Halfway between ice-in and ice-out, February is prime time for ice fishing with the family. The Department of Natural Resources recommends McColl Pond in Savage or Wolfe Lake in St. Louis Park, where winter aeration systems protect native and stocked fish populations.
Wherever you go, you’ll want to verify ice thickness before heading out. According to the DNR, cold shock can take effect in under three minutes, inhibiting even the most capable swimmer’s ability to keep afloat. Four inches of ice can generally support a person on foot, however it should be noted that this benchmark only applies to new ice. Old, partially thawed or snow-coated ice can be unstable, even at 12 inches of thickness, and ice near the bend of a river can be weakened by sub-surface currents. Bring along a tape measure and cordless drill with auger bit so you can re-assess the ice every 150 feet. And don’t forget felt-lined boots, spare socks and of course, a buddy.
Outside of state parks, a fishing license is required for anyone age 16 and over, with the exception of active or recently discharged military, residents of nursing homes and individuals over 90 years of age. If this is the year you attempt some ice fishing family fun, visit dnr.state.mn.us for more tips, regulations and safety information.