By Ren Clayton

MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — This time of year, ice anglers in Minnesota are preparing.

“They’re just getting ready. Gotta put the line on their reels, oil for their augers,” said Bob Sonenstahl, who has run Wayzata Bait and Tackle for 47 years and has been fishing even longer.

“When I was a kid here, on Thanksgiving Day we were always fishing on one of these lakes,” said Sonenstahl. “There was always 2 inches of ice some place, we could find it and get on it. But now with the amount of people and traffic and heat, these things don’t set up like that.”

At Gray’s Bay in Minnetonka there is ice covering a large portion of the water, but not everywhere. So, like many lakes across the state, it won’t be safe for a while.

For example, the average date of Lake Minnetonka being completely covered in ice is Dec. 8. With our warmer weather, it will likely be later this year.

As you go farther north, of course, ice coverage increases. White Earth Lake in Waubun has a light covering across the water with 2 inch thickness at the shoreline.

The Department of Natural Resources says 4 inches is the minimum to go ice fishing, and to make sure it’s at least 8 inches before you drive a car on the frozen lake. They also remind that no ice is ever 100% safe, no matter how thick it is. The DNR advises to check the ice every 150 feet.

“Still paying attention. Walking with a chisel, checking as you go. Common sense,” said Sonenstahl.

Use that, and you’ll be ready to tackle ice fishing season when it arrives.

Ren Clayton