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Published March 19, 2012, 05:03 PM

Anglers Warned to Stay Off Diminishing Lake Ice

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The ice is normally thick enough this time of year to still support those who go out to fish. But with this year's warm weather, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department wants anglers to stay off the ice.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The ice is normally thick enough this time of year to still support those who go out to fish. But with this year's warm weather, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department wants anglers to stay off the ice.

The water is flowing along the shores of Devils Lake, but even where the ice is thickest, it's still unsafe to venture out.

Ice houses are required to be off the lake by March 15, but that usually doesn't signify the end of ice fishing season.

"Last year at this time some guys were still driving pick-ups, taking four-wheelers out there. We fished into April last year, and with this warm weather, not much ice and not much snow, it's just going away a lot quicker," Ed's Bait Shop owner John Dircks said.

Water along the edge of the lake makes it difficult to get out on the ice. But even if you can make it to the middle of the lake, Game Warden Paul Freeman doesn't recommend it.

"There's probably still three feet thick, but it's all honey-combed and black and just not gonna support any weight," Freeman said.

"I would tell them not to. I would tell them just for their own safety, to stay off," Dircks said.

Even with the warnings, Dircks says some people still took the risk this weekend.

"There was a few guys this weekend walking out, but I think that's the last of it," Dircks said.

If you absolutely must go on the ice, it's best to take extra precautions.

"Wearing a life jacket would be smart were you really really needing to get on what's left of the ice," Freeman said.

If you do have the fishing bug, Dircks recommends you hold on until you can fish from the safety of your boat.

"If the weather stays like this I think the ice should be pretty much taken care of in the next couple weeks. Give it two or three weeks we should be able to get some boats out there, but some boat ramps in and start fishing with the long rods," Dircks said.

It's hard to tell exactly when the ice will melt.

Freeman says the ice is too unstable for anyone to accurately measure it.

There are some smaller lakes that have melted enough to take your boat on. There are also large gaps of flowing water near bridges on Devils Lake.

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