Park officials urge fishers to take extra precautions on ice - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Park officials urge fishers to take extra precautions on ice

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Authorities are urging people to take extra caution when ice fishing.

They said recent warm temperatures did not impact the amount of ice, but melted the snow off the top of it.

Still, officials warn people can never be too safe when venturing out on frozen lakes and rivers.

"You can never take enough safety precautions," said Lori Eberhard, Park Manager at George Wyth State Park in Waterloo.

Eberhard said it's better to be safe and measure or "test" the ice frequently.

"Don't trust somebody else because they were out there. Just because you were out there two days ago doesn't mean it's the same. It might be thicker, it might not be," she said.

Eberhard said 2-inches of ice will typically hold a person, and 8-inches is usually thick enough for a vehicle. However, she said frozen lakes and rivers are never really safe for anyone because weak spots can form just about anywhere.

According to Eberhard, weak spots can form from sunlight, strong wind and the current of the water beneath the ice.

Ken Depuew of Decorah has been ice fishing for 10-years. He measures the ice frequently to make sure he's avoiding the danger zones or weak areas.

Depuew spent Saturday fishing with his friend on Brinker Lake at George Wyth State Park in Waterloo.

"We always play it safe," he said. "If it gets to the point where it's too warm or something, we stay off the ice."

He said catching a fish isn't worth risking his life.

Depuew said he carries ice picks, a flotation device and 50-feet of rope in case the ice breaks and he falls through. He also recommended fellow fishermen use the buddy system.

Eberhard said she wants people to have fun while fishing, but one can never be too safe.

"Any sport that you do, there's always a safety factor. If everybody takes the safety precautions, you're less likely to have a tragic event happen," she said.

Ice fishing is free at George Wyth State Park for fishers who have their license.

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