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Warm weather is bad news for ice fishers

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Anglers, beware of the unusually warm weather.

It is causing dangerous ice conditions on Michigan’s lakes and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says mandatory ice shanty removal dates are approaching.

This also happens to be free fishing weekend, February 18 and 19. All fishing license fees will be waived. Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing on all waters for all species of fish. All other fishing regulations still apply.

Ice shanties on Lake St. Clair must be removed by sunset Sunday, Feb. 26.

For counties in the southern Lower Peninsula, shanties must be removed from the ice by midnight Wednesday, March 1.

The deadline for removal from waters in the northern Lower Peninsula is midnight Wednesday, March 15. Counties in this area are: Alcona, Alpena, Antrim, Arenac, Bay, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Clare, Crawford, Emmet, Gladwin, Grand Traverse, Iosco, Isabella, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Montmorency, Newaygo, Oceana, Ogemaw, Osceola, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon and Wexford.

On Michigan-Wisconsin boundary waters, ice shanties must be removed by midnight Wednesday, March 15. For all Upper Peninsula counties, shanties must be removed by midnight Friday, March 31.

After the mandatory removal dates, ice shanties still may be used but must be removed daily from the ice.

But the department says, regardless of the date, shanties must be removed as soon as the ice is unable to safely support them. The ice can quickly become unsafe for anglers to retrieve their property.

If shanties are not removed, fees will result.

Shanty owners whose structures fall through the ice are subject to penalties of up to 30 days in jail, fines of $100 to $500, or both. If a shanty is removed by a government agency, the court can require the owner to reimburse that agency for an amount of up to three times the cost of removal.

SLewis@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2296