Mich. ice thin for free fishing weekend, officials warn

Associated Press

Lansing — Anglers should use caution when going out onto frozen lakes and rivers for the state’s Winter Free Fishing Weekend because recently warmer weather has melted ice, leaving unstable patches or open water, officials said.

Even with this week’s cold snap, the previous spell of warm temperatures and snowfall have combined to leave weakened ice in some areas ahead of Saturday and Sunday’s fishing event, which allows people to fish in Michigan without a license, the state Department of Natural Resources said.

The DNR’s Sgt. Mike Hammill, whose district includes Luce, Mackinac and Chippewa counties in the Upper Peninsula, said some lakes have heavy slush covering ice. Hammill said people shouldn’t drive cars or trucks onto the ice under current conditions.

“Ice conditions really vary from lake to lake this year,” said Hammill, DNR District 2 area law supervisor. “Overall, the ice conditions are poor compared to previous years.”

Some lakes in the Upper Peninsula have springs that are reportedly more active this winter, contributing to the undermining of ice strength, the DNR said. Last week, Lake Gogebic had 8-10 inches of solid, clear ice that was topped with 8 inches of slush.

Earlier this month, two snowmobilers fell through ice on Lake Gogebic. The DNR said they got out safely with no injuries.

The National Weather Service has forecast colder temperatures in Michigan through the weekend, which the DNR said may help to improve ice conditions.

With the exception of the license requirement, other fishing regulations remain in effect for Winter Free Fishing Weekend, including daily bag limits.

Recreation Passports aren’t required this weekend for entry to state areas where fishing is available.