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Think ahead before stepping onto ice

Brandi Delaney, student writer

Fishermen: it's almost time to grab those rods and reels.

Winter is approaching and lakes in the area are freezing over. People need to be careful before they head out onto the ice.

According to the Minnesota DNR handbook, recommendations for safe ice activities include guidelines for ice thickness. The ice should be at least four inches thick for walking. For those who take snowmobiles out on the lakes or enjoy driving ATVs on the ice, the minimum thickness should be a solid five inches.

Every year over-anxious people take to the ice before it's thick enough to hold the extra weight. Be aware of the thickness of the ice because the thickness can vary from place to place, even on the same lake.

Before driving a car or a small truck on the ice, make sure it is between eight and 12 inches thick. For a medium sized truck, the ice should be between 12 and 15 inches thick.

The most common way to check the thickness of the ice is to take an ice auger and drill it into the ice. Be sure to watch the different areas because the thickness may not be the same throughout the entire lake.

"When I go ice fishing I just walk out to my fishing spot with my ice auger and drill a hole in the ice so I can measure the thickness of the ice and see if it's safe enough to drive out there or not," said Shane Sundheim, a contractor.

People have different reasons for going ice fishing: the excitement, the thrill, or just something to do?

"I think that ice fishing is an exciting sport for the wintertime, and it's a fun way to spend time with the whole family," said Tonya Delaney.

Tim Stone, a student at North Dakota State University said, "When I go out on the ice I think that it is a time for me to relax and enjoy myself."

According to the Upper Red Lake fishing Web site, Upper Red Lake has become a popular spot to drop a line in Minnesota. Upper Red Lake is known for the nice sized crappies that have been caught over past few years.

Stone went on a fishing trip to Upper Red Lake.

"I was very pleased with what I brought home," Stone said. "I caught all crappies and there were some nice sized two-pounders in the bunch."