Ice Fishing on Thanksgiving, 11.25.17

The smaller lakes in Cook County have been frozen for nearly two weeks, and the overnight temperatures have been cold enough to make ice. I plan to check a few of the smaller lakes for thick enough ice this weekend, with my brother visiting from Denver for Thanksgiving who is excited to catch anything on the ice.
Normally ice fishing on Turkey Day is not possible around here since our lakes take such a long time to freeze-over, but this year it might be possible. I would never encourage anyone to be the first angler to brave the ice, but it seems that every year someone goes much sooner than I would. It takes two inches of ice to be safe for walking, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and six inches for vehicles. Ice is never safe, and common sense can go a long way for anyone not sure about the lake they choose to fish.
The best method is to punch a hole every 20 feet or so to check if the ice thickness is consistent while hiking to the spot you would like to fish. Beware of running water entering the lake, which will cause thinner ice or discolored ice which could indicate a change in thickness. Take notice of the condition of the ice while it is being bored by the auger; does it seem flaky and weak like shale, or hard and robust?
A few “must have” safety items would include: rope, ice picks, whistle, life vests, hand warmers, and an accurate float plan (letting someone know where you are going and when you are expected to return).

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