Fish for free with family

From Saturday, Jan. 19, through Monday, Jan. 21, Minnesota residents age 16 years or older can fish or dark house spear without a spearing or angling license as long as they bring a buddy 15 years or younger to join in on the fun

HIBBING — This weekend the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites you to grab your ice fishing gear and get ready for “Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend.”

From Saturday, Jan. 19, through Monday, Jan. 21, Minnesota residents age 16 years or older can fish or dark house spear without a spearing or angling license as long as they bring a buddy 15 years or younger to join in on the fun.

The idea behind the event is to foster family time and inspire outdoor hobbies while enjoying a special weekend of fishing in the land of 10,000 lakes.

“This weekend is a way to encourage anglers to take a kid fishing,” said Jeff Ledermann, education and skills team supervisor with the Minnesota DNR. “Ice fishing is a great way to get outdoors in winter.”

Trout fishing is also on the table this weekend. The trout stamp requirement won’t apply to those fishing with kids during “Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend” because stamps are only required for trout when angling licenses are also required.

Before you slap on wool socks and load the truck, be sure to brush up on all the recommended ice and winter safety rules issued by the DNR. Activities with kids are always more fun when safety is at the forefront.

A complete list of ice safety guidelines can be found at mndnr.gov/icesafety.

Also, always remember that ice is never considered 100 percent safe; it can be several feet thick in one area of a lake and only a few inches thick just yards away. Use caution and be prepared.

Here are a few ice safety tips to get you started:

• Check with locals on ice conditions and potential hazards before heading out onto the lake.

• Let others know where you will be fishing and when you will be back.

• Keep an ice safety kit on hand.

• Ice strength is based on a variety of factors that all play together. These include: the size of the body of water, water chemistry, currents and springs, rough fish, depth of water under the ice, local climatic conditions, distribution of load on ice and more. That’s why it’s never safe to judge ice merely by the appearance, age, thickness, temperature and/or amount of snow cover.

• Be sure to check ice thickness every 150 feet. This can be done by stabbing the ice with a chisel until a small hole forms and using a tape measure. Ice augers and cordless ¼” drills with long bits can also be used.

• No one should venture onto ice that’s less than 4 inches thick.

• White ice or “snow ice” is only half a strong as new, clear ice.

• For new, clear ice, there should be at least 4 inches for ice fishing or activities on foot; 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV; 8 to 12 inches for a car or small pickup; and 12 to 15 inches for a medium truck. Double these amounts in the case of white or snow ice.

• Do not drive a vehicle onto ice unless necessary; and if you do, be prepared to exit quickly in an emergency by keeping the windows down during travel. Discuss exit plan with passengers ahead of time.

• When parking on the ice, cars, pickups and SUVs should be at least 50 feet apart and moved every two hours to prevent sinking.

• Make a small hole next to the parked car to monitor for sinking. If water begins to flow over the top of the hole, move the vehicle immediately.

• Avoid alcohol to prevent judgement errors.

• Wear a life vest under winter gear, but not inside enclosed vehicles while traveling on ice.

• Carry a pair of ice picks to help pull yourself up in case of a fall on wet or slippery ice.

• Watch for and avoid large cracks, depressions or pressure ridges.

• Always have a buddy when walking out on the ice but be sure to walk apart so if one falls in, the other can go get help.

• Educate yourself on other ice safety tips.

To learn more about “Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend,” visit http://bit.ly/TakeaKidIceFishingWeekend.

General fishing information can also be found at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/index.html.

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