With very a mild winter and many southern lakes having poor ice conditions, state recreational safety specialists are cautioning that anglers may want to remove their ice fishing shelters prior to established deadlines.
The first of a number of deadlines for ice anglers to remove ice fishing shelters from inland and boundary waters was last week, when all ice fishing shelters had to be removed from Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters by Monday, Feb. 20. This earlier date, affecting the Mississippi River south of the Minnesota-Iowa border, is set to correspond with Iowa regulations.
The deadline was March 1 for Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters and is March 15 for Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters.
For inland Wisconsin waters, ice fishing shelters must be removed daily and when not occupied on Sunday, March 4 for waters south of Hwy. 64; and Sunday, March 18 for waters north of Hwy. 64.
But this year, with poor ice conditions on many lakes, safety specialists say anglers may not want to wait until the deadlines. Open water has been appearing on an increasing number of southern lakes, and many shorelines have thin ice, making access for removing shelters treacherous.
Failure to remove a shanty or ice fishing shelter by these deadlines could result in a forfeiture of $263.10. Additional costs may be incurred if the DNR must arrange to have the shanty removed, or if the shanty or ice fishing shelter breaks through the ice and must be recovered and disposed of.
After these dates for removing ice fishing shelters from a frozen lake or river, an angler may continue to use a portable shelter, but must remove it daily and when it is not occupied or actively being used.