OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ) - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says if you're preparing for sturgeon spearing, be careful of ice conditions on the Lake Winnebago system.
The DNR says ice conditions on the lakes are highly variable. In some spots, the ice is more than a foot thick, while in other spots, the water is open.
Ice is generally thicker on the east side of Lake Winnebago than on the west side after high winds Jan. 21 blew the ice onto the eastern shore, leaving open water on the west side.
Since then, the DNR says swings in temperature and wind conditions have continued to keep ice conditions varied. The DNR does not monitor ice conditions and reminds people that the ice is never guaranteed to be safe. The DNR recommends checking with a local fishing club for current ice conditions.
The DNR has also shared the following tips for people going out onto the ice:
- Ice should be at least 4 inches thick before walking out onto it, 5 inches if taking a snowmobile, ATV or other vehicle.
- Wear proper clothing and equipment - dress in layers including wool hats, mittens and waterproof boots. Include a float coat to help you stay afloat and slow body heat loss should you go into the water.
- Don't go out alone - Go out fishing or spearing with friends, take a cell phone with you, and make sure someone knows where you are and when you expect to return.
The sturgeon spearing season begins at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. It is scheduled to end Feb. 24, but can end early if harvest caps are reached. Harvest caps are separate for Lake Winnebago and the upriver lakes of Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan.
The DNR did check the clarity of the water on Lake Winnebago on Monday. Staff members found that they could see about eight feet down into the water.