Our Opinion: Be responsible, safe on the ice

Published 5:32 pm Friday, December 8, 2023

Assuming the weather becomes conducive to routine opportunities for ice fishing, anglers will once again be heading out to fish Minnesota’s frozen waters.

It’s a pastime rooted in the state’s tradition, but this pastime comes with certain responsibilities as well, namely picking up after yourself when it’s all said and done.

To this end, a new state law, that took effect on July 1, requires all trash be placed in a container secured to an ice house or vehicle. This would include beverage containers, cigarette butts and fish remains.

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It’s hoped that this new law will help keep conservation efforts focused on picking up after yourself and will allow conservation officers to first educate, followed by a possible civil penalty of $100 if it’s deemed the law was violated — a petty misdemeanor.

Each year, landowners and conservation officials are faced with the task of cleaning up shorelines of garbage that accumulates from anglers leaving their trash on the ice.

For a state that views its outdoor opportunities with such high regard, it’s a shame when some choose to take advantage of it through laziness, carelessness or even forgetfulness.

Minnesota has great environmental attributes and opportunities. Our lakes, forests, parries and more give state citizens and visitors ample choices for getting outside.

Leaving your trash only takes away from that and also acts to get in the way of local water conservation efforts. Local government and groups around Austin and in Mower County have put extensive resources into improving our waterways over recent years.

Their work has turned these resources into viable recreational opportunities, but to keep those opportunities as quality as possible it’s up to each of us to account for our own actions.

When a day of fishing is complete, pick up your garbage and ensure everything is accounted for before leaving the ice.

DNR Graphic

That accounts for yourself. With recent fluctuations in temperatures (Thursday reached into the 50s) ice is likely vulnerable in places.

Be alert when venturing out on the ice and ensure for at least four-inches of thickness before going fishing. Look for clear, clean ice and at all times be aware of standing water on the ice.

Ice fishing is a unique opportunity for people in Minnesota but it’s up to us to not only keep it pristine, but to also be safe every time we head out.