MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We are experiencing some of the coldest high temperatures in decades in the Twin Cities. The bitter Arctic air is setting records but the cold doesn’t mean the lakes are safe.

Ice fishing is Minnesota’s trademark sport and the more miserable the weather the more ideal the conditions.

Shawn Schlosser is an ice fishing guide at DH Custom Rods & Tackle near Lake Minnetonka.

“Being out there in the elements. The way we fish especially, constantly moving around, drilling holes finding those schools fish it’s a blast,” Schlosser said.

This year the ice is coming in early, and so are his bait shop customers.

“Here at DH we are already starting to see orders come in. We’re a little backlogged which is awesome for the business, I’m super excited about,” he said.

According to Hennepin County Water Patrol, some smaller lakes are frozen, but anglers need to wait a little longer to dive in. Deputy Alan Lange has performed several rescues.

“If it looks tempting, just stay off. We need more cold weather, we need several more days of cold weather to develop that ice that’s thick enough to walk on,” Lange said.

Lange says he can tell by the ice that’s coming in on Lake Minnetonka, its only about an inch thick. It needs to be four times thicker to be safe.

“I know these fisherman want to get out early. They just need to have some patience, it will get there. But if they get there and they fall in, they’re endangering me too, my partner, anybody else that’s got to come out and get them,” he said.

It’s advice Schlosser fully agrees with.

“I mean turn around and get out of there, it’s not worth it. Fishing’s fun and I absolutely love catching fish but it’s not worth my life,” he said.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says over the last season, five people lost their lives after going through the ice. Just this past weekend, two anglers fell through, but were able to rescue themselves.

Again, ice should be at least four inches for walking and at least a foot for driving.

Click here for more information on ice safety.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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