Duluth Fire Officials to Anglers: Be Prepared, Think Twice Before Fishing on Lake Superior Ice

If the ice is at least 4 inches thick, and the wind isn't coming out of the West-Northwest, proceed with caution and the right gear.

DULUTH, Minn.- As winter continues Lake Superior is getting more frozen. But emergency officials and experts encourage people to think twice before venturing out on that ice.

“That ice is always shifting in there too so you definitely have to watch what’s going on,” said Marques Hoglund, who works at Marine General.

And the ice was on the move off of Brighton Beach Tuesday — demonstrating just how powerful, and ever-changing lake-ice can be – which can leave you stranded in minutes.

“Lake Superior, very unpredictable,” said Capt. Bob Mielke of the Duluth Fire Department.

“Even though it is a lake it does have strong currents that go through it,” he said. “So you could have 6 in of ice in one spot and less than an inch of ice in the next step.”

That’s why Capt. Mielke said the big lake is not for the faint of heart. But if the ice is at least 4 inches thick, and the wind isn’t coming out of the West-Northwest, proceed with caution and the right gear.

”Just always need to be prepared for that worst-case scenario it’s good to have like I said ice picks with you and then even just a set of dry clothes in the car,” said Capt. Mielke.

And gear is where Marine General on London Road comes in.

Staff say anglers from mid-state are getting their augers and rods and chasing Lake Trout now that walleye season is coming to an end.

“The fact that you can fish in deep water use heavy tackle and they’re big,” Hoglund said.

“I mean most fish are a lot of times in that 20 in range and up so I mean it’s not uncommon to land a fish that’s over 20 lbs., even so, it’s a big draw for people and it’s a lot of fun too,” he said.

They’re selling out of bait almost every week so they advise anyone going out to fish to keep those ice-picks on hand and it doesn’t hurt to drill a hole immediately to check its strength.

“You can do that and with the snow, it’s kind of hard to use a spud bar or an ice chisel,” said Hoglund. “Usually you can use that and walk your way out and hit that right in front of you.

But even the experts say there’s no knowing how Lake Superior feels on a given day — so proceed carefully.

“No fish is worth your life,” Hoglund said.

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