Ice fishing’s days are numbered but late season angling still possible with caution

Ice fishing season is wrapping up
Ice fishing season is wrapping up(kbjr)
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 12:59 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The calendar is rapidly closing in on ice anglers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Ice shanties have to be off the ice in the southern parts of the states by March 1st. The deadline for the mid sections is mid-March. Hard-cores in far northern Minnesota and the U.P. have until March 31st. Russ Francisco of Marine General reports that 90 percent of ice anglers have given up for the season but good fishing remains for those who are careful on our frozen lakes.

Be cautious on the ice during the waning days of ice fishing season
Be cautious on the ice during the waning days of ice fishing season(kbjr)

“They’re crummy, you can’t drive on them really because we had some thawing and then a good crust so people can still go but you have to pay attention to what you’re doing.” said Francisco.

Water safety experts tell us that late season ice fishers need to wear some kind of flotation device when venturing out.

“This is a float coat and it has reflective material and foam inside that will help to float a person and you can get gear like that from many of the shops in town that could have a full body suit that you can use and that’s actually an excellent idea if you have to kneel in the snow to cut your hole in the ice to get the fish out.” said Steve Daniel of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary - the water safety section of the Coast Guard.

Fishing aficionados are also working to get the lead out of our lakes. Tackle companies are replacing the poisonous metal with things like steel, brass, tin and bismuth.

“And some companies are coming out with more tungsten stuff not only to keep profiles smaller in heavier sizes but it keeps the lead out of the lakes like you said.” said Marcus Hoglund of Marine General.

Walleye and northern season is already closed but Russ Francisco says lake trout and crappies are still biting. This time of year, they’re in shallow water.

“Because what those fish will do is they’ll come up where there’s some light and some minnows hiding and they disappear off your depth finder and you think they’re gone for the day so crank it up shallow right under the ice.”

Ice fishing shelter removal dates for Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan include:

March 1 for Minnesota and Wisconsin border waters, March 6 for Minnesota lakes south of Highways 2 and 200, March 15th for Wisconsin and Michigan border waters, March 20 for Minnesota lakes north of Highways 2 and 200, March 31 for Minnesota and Canada border waters plus the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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