Anglers worry weather could shorten ice fishing season - KOTA Territory News

Anglers worry weather could shorten ice fishing season

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Anglers like Joe Mentock cannot wait for winter's cold weather to freeze over Wyoming's lakes for the start of ice fishing season.

"I can't go in a boat, so ice fishing's a good way for me to be on the lake and all my friends can come with us," said Mentock.

Joe's fished out on Lake De Smet for nearly 30 years, some seasons as early as mid-December.

But having to wait until January is tough sometimes.

"Very eager.  I love ice fishing.  I love fishing totally.  No matter ice fishing or the mountains-stream fishing," said Mentock.

While the anglers enjoy hitting the ice on a nice sunny day too many days like this could cut the season short.

"You get some warm weather like this and it can make things unpredictable," said Fisheries Biologist with Wyoming Game and Fish Andrew Nikirk.

Nikirk says that the lake's ice is thick enough for safe fishing, but anglers can never be too careful this time of the season.

"Early ice and late ice can be some of the most unpredictable.  Drill test holes as you're going to your favorite fishing spot on any given lake.  good, clear ice is safe ice," said Nikirk.

The ice fishing season usually stretches into mid-March and Nikirk says fishermen and their families from all over the state and parts of South Dakota visit Sheridan and Johnson counties.

Those travelers and Joe are crossing their fingers the area gets the cold temperatures needed in the coming weeks for that to happen.

"As long as the weather at night is cold, it'll help the ice last longer.  The warm days are very nice, but we like the cold nights to keep the ice going," said Mentock.

Wyoming Game and Fish advises anglers to check the ice's thickness each time on a lake.  Ice that is at least three inches thick is usually safe, but not for driving a vehicle on.

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