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TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Early ice fishing

Q. I've heard a couple of reports already of anglers walking out on the ice at Upper Red Lake and a smaller lake in the region. What is the earliest you've ever ventured out on frozen water?...

Q. I've heard a couple of reports already of anglers walking out on the ice at Upper Red Lake and a smaller lake in the region. What is the earliest you've ever ventured out on frozen water?

A. I've ice fished the weekend after Thanksgiving a handful of times, and the cold weather that has descended in recent days could make that a possibility this year, as well, on some smaller bodies of water.

My most memorable first-ice excursion, though, occurred in late November 2000, when I joined Bruce Mosher, Beltrami, Minn., inventor of the Ice Buster Bobber, and ice fishing pioneer Dave Genz on a small lake in Polk County. Genz was in East Grand Forks for an appearance, and he and Mosher talked me into joining them for some ice exploring the next day.

Genz and Mosher tested the ice with a spud bar, which broke through without a whole lot of force, but they felt confident enough to keep going so I followed -- a bit nervous, I'll admit -- at a safe distance.

When we started fishing, we were set up on a measly 2 inches of ice. The ice made horrible sounds if we got within 50 feet of each other, and I vowed I'd never again fish on ice that thin, even with seasoned pros such as Mosher and Genz and even though we had safety gear at the ready.

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Instead, I'm more inclined to follow the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' guidelines, which call for a minimum of 4 inches of ice for walking, 5 inches for a snowmobile, 8 to 12 inches for a car and 12 to 15 inches for a pickup.

No fish is worth the risk of taking stupid chances on thin ice.

If you have a question for Talkin' with Dokken, call (701) 780-1148 or send an email to bdokken@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: FISHINGWEATHER
Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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