Early ice fishing reports from many areas of the state have been promising. However, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department advises winter anglers to be cautious when moving or removing permanent fish houses and travelling on state lakes.
Robert Timian, chief game warden, said an unseasonably mild winter has caused some ice houses to already break through the ice. “Record breaking high temperatures and strong winds this winter have resulted in inconsistent ice conditions in much of the state,” Timian said. “Anglers should assess the need to move their respective ice houses. If ice conditions on a lake deteriorate, they should check the weather forecast and consider removing their house.”
While snow and colder temperatures are yet to come, those conditions might come too late to help form solid ice for any length of time. “When we get into late February, warm weather and longer daylight will deteriorate ice conditions, causing shorelines that are already thin to weaken,” Timian said. “Therefore, we suggest anglers be aware of these unique winter conditions and be prepared to move, or even remove their ice houses.”
Whether the ice house is removed now or in two months, Timian advises anglers to do so before the ice begins to thaw. “Fish houses can become frozen into the ice under these conditions, causing some anglers to only take parts of the house that are easily retrievable,” he added. “This is unacceptable. The owner has a legal responsibility to remove the entire house and its contents.”
Permanent fish houses must be off the ice by midnight, March 15. Portable fish houses may be used after March 15 if they are removed daily.