FOND DU LAC – It’s been an unseasonably warm December in Wisconsin, and while the warmth may be welcome for some eager to escape the wrath of winter, the lack of cold is causing some problems for Wisconsin’s winter traditions, including ice fishing.
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Fishing Association runs a statewide ice fishing championship, with the first qualifier event scheduled to be going on right now. But association president Ted Bonde told WTMJ there’s a big problem.
“I just drove by Fox Lake and I’m in Fond du Lac right now by Lake Winnebago – there is no ice!” Bonde said.
Not just thin ice – no ice. That’s forced the association to delay events by at least a week. There may be good news on the horizon, however. Bonde said there is a favorable forecast that could bring the return of ice to the lakes and rivers they need.
“It looks like the ice should be good a week after, but even that we’ll have to see because it’s ice fishing – we’re going to have to push back until it’s safe,” he said.
Safety is the priority for Bonde, who is not just in charge of making sure he is safe on the ice but the high school students who take part in the association’s events. Until the ice is at least six inches thick, no students will set foot on the ice even after it returns.
“We usually have 10 to 15 people that are checking the ice before we go out all over the place,” Bonde said.
And that’s a key point Bonde wanted to emphasize – not all ice is created equal, and even if they get their wish and ice fishing is able to be done this winter, it’s important to make sure your specific body of water is safe to fish on.
“It’s different in every location you ever go to. Whether it’s north up towards Shawano or in the Fond du Lac area or even down by Milwaukee, Madison, if you’re on a river versus a lake, it’s going to change every single place you go,” Bonde said. “So just because you hear the ice is safe in one place doesn’t mean it’s safe everywhere.”