Minnesota ice-fishing houses succumb to thin ice &


Mar 11, 2001
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Ice fishing houses yield to Mother Nature


Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

FISH HOUSES ON Sleepy Eye Lake were pictured on Sunday sinking through the ice after warm weather was followed by heavy snow and windy conditions on Feb. 9.

By Randy Sobrack, Editor/Publisher

Barricades with "Thin Ice" signs were put up along the public access entries to Sleepy Eye Lake on Sunday after three fish houses were reported sinking through the ice with one house completely going through on Saturday.

According to Sleepy Eye Fire Chief Bob Zinniel, the fish house that went through the ice was recovered in seven feet of water on Saturday.

"It's a mess," is the only way Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer Greg Abraham of Lake Crystal could describe the scene on area lakes.

"There are ice fishing houses going down all over the place and I don't know how (the owners) are going to get them out," Abraham said. "But most importantly, we are urging people to be extremely careful before going out on the ice. We don't want anyone getting killed."

According to Abraham, the sun in recent days melted snow and ice around numerous houses on area lakes. And then strong winds over the past couple of days "just ate the ice away and houses starting going down."

An aerial survey by the DNR has found open water on numerous lakes in southern Minnesota, Abraham said. "It's treacherous to say the very least," he stated.

The situation poses a "real dilemma," Abraham said. Attempting to retrieve the houses at this time is dangerous, but leaving them will only delay the problem. "If we get a cold spell and the ice re-freezes, the houses that don't sink will be frozen in until ice-out. And I can only imagine the scene when the ice goes out and houses are floating around the lakes."

By law, dark houses, fish houses and shelters must be off the ice no later than midnight, Feb. 28, if they are south of a line starting at the Minnesota-North Dakota border formed by U.S. Highway 10, east along Highway 10 to Minnesota Highway 34 to Minnesota Highway 200, east along Highway 200 to U.S. Highway 2, and east along Highway 2 to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.

Abraham said the DNR is discussing the situation but "right now we just aren't sure how to deal with this. But again, we are urging people to use extreme caution before making any effort to retrieve their shelter."

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