Weather creates difficulty for ice shanty removal

For many of the lakes in the Madison area, Monday, March 3rd is the deadline for ice fishers to remove their shanties off the ice.

Around this time of year, lakes are usually thawing. Therefore, causing no problem for fishers to comply with the deadline, but this gripping winter has caused many ice houses to do the same.

"With cold weather it's been pretty hard the last month or so," said Nick Foulk, who has been fishing on Lake Mendota all winter.

Catching fish isn't the only problem anglers are facing due to the harsh winter.

"Just the winter conditions -- there's a whole bunch of factors that make it a little difficult for anglers to pull their shanties off the lakes," said Jake Donar, DNR Conservation Warden.

Today, Nick had enough luck to catch a northern on his line, but last weekend he wasn't so lucky -- his ice house was stuck.

"The shack got frozen in the ice, so we had to come out and bust them out," said Foulk.

His whole fishing crew spent 2 hours breaking it loose to make sure it can make it off the ice by Monday. It is exactly what the DNR wants you to do.

"Get a hold of local vendors, family, friends, someone to help," said Donar.

If you've exhausted all of those resources, the DNR has one more for you. They've set up a tip line, where you may be given some leniency from your local warden.

"One of our representatives there will put them in contant with a local warden, and them it will be up to the warden's discretion to work with that angler on when they should be able to get that shanty off the lake," said Donar.

If your shanty is stuck, the warden may grant a few days extension to get shacks off the ice, but will use their discretion since it is still against the law to leave them up after March 3rd.

Since his ice house got stuck, Faulk has been taking the necessary precautions.

"We put the 2 by 10 under the wheel, so that it won't freeze back in the ice," Faulk said.

Measures that will allow him more time to catch fish.

As mentioned, the 3rd is the deadline for most of the Madison area lakes, but each one is different. If you would like to see the date required for a lake or need to call the tipline, visit the DNR's website.

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