MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New snow can make it tough to safely navigate our frozen lakes.

There have already been a handful of people who put their ATV or snowmobile through local lakes. That’s why the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding people to be safe as their head out to snow shoe, ski or ice fish.

“It’s great. Love taking the kids ice fishing. They’re always into it. And enjoy it,” said angler Noe Alvarado.

There are parts of Lake Minnetonka right now where the fish are really biting.

“Lots of walleye, sunfish, even a couple of northerns. It was a good day,” said angler Zach Froman.

There’s a solid 10 inches on Lake Minnetonka where these anglers are fishing, but conditions vary across the lake and across the state.

“You want to see at least 4 inches of clear, solid ice before stepping on the ice,” said Lisa Dugan, from DNR.

Five to 7 inches are needed before you take an ATV or snowmobile on a frozen lake. Ice chisels are recommended to check the ice first. The DNR also wants people to carry ice picks and even wear life jackets in case the worst happens, knowing that more and more people are heading outdoors during the pandemic.

With more snow on the way, the DNR says snow can hinder ice making. It acts as insulation and keeps ice from forming.

The size and depth of the lake also matter, as do unseen currents below the ice. Sheriff’s departments are responsible for thin ice signs, but water patrol says it’s best to approach each excursion with the mindset that no ice is completely safe.

“People are ready to have something to do but they just get out too early. You just have to wait and be safe,” said Froman

The DNR also recommends 8 to 12 inches of ice are needed for a car or small pickup, and 12 to 15 inches of ice for a medium-sized truck.

“I know people get anxious to get out there, but you got to do what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to be safe,” said Alvarado.

John Lauritsen