Tips For Safe, Successful Late-Season Ice Fishing

LINCOLN, Neb. — Safety is always paramount when ice-fishing in Nebraska. Safe, fishable ice can disappear quickly during February or March.

Daryl Bauer, fisheries outreach program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, has the following tips for safe late-season ice-fishing:

-- Ice gets thinnest and worse near shore first, especially in areas exposed to the afternoon sun. Be especially careful when you start seeing weak ice in those areas.

-- Four-inch-thick ice may be fine for early in the season, but it may not be enough late in the season. Use a spud bar to check ice thickness and hardness.

-- Be careful around objects, such as logs, standing trees or rocks. Anything that might absorb more warmth from the sun can result in weaker ice adjacent to it.

-- Check ice conditions throughout the day with a spud bar. On a warm day on late ice, conditions can change by the hour, and that especially is true if the wind is blowing.

-- Be careful about getting on the ice early in the day, then fishing all day. After a warm day you might find it hard to get off the ice where it was no problem first thing in the morning.

-- Other than a spud bar, have other safety gear, such as ice picks, close at hand. Fishing late ice with a partner is recommended.

“There will come a day, maybe even a time during a day, when you just have to walk away from the ice, so be safe,” Bauer said.

On the other hand, Bauer said late-season ice-fishing can be quite productive.

-- Water temperatures under late, thawing ice are surprisingly warm. That spurs fish feeding activity as fish often begin moving toward shallow water to find prey.

-- Walleyes, northern pike and yellow perch will move toward spawning areas in shallower water at late ice.

-- Fish are more likely to suspend under late ice, partly because of warming water but also because of the presence of prey higher in the water column.

-- Active fish mean you can use bigger baits, faster, more aggressive presentations and get more bites. But always cover water.

S.D. GFP Hopes To Reopen Randall Creek Campground In Time For

Memorial Day

PIERRE — South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) officials say the campground at Randall Creek Recreation Area near Pickstown could be for ready for campers as early as mid-May.

The bridge leading into the campground is being replaced following flood damage last spring. The day-use area and boat ramp remained open and accessible to vehicles. However, with the bridge unusable, the campground has been closed since last March.

“We’re excited to get back into the campground, and we know our visitors are too,” said Jon Corey, District Park Supervisor. “The wet conditions and flooding hit everybody pretty hard last year. We’re all looking forward to a well-deserved summer of camping, fishing and roasting marshmallows.”

Corey says the bridge is expected to be completed by Memorial Day weekend, but the park isn’t ready to start taking reservations just yet.

“Normally, reservations open 90 days before arrival,” he said. “Reservations for mid-May arrivals start opening right about now, but we’re going to hold off opening them up just yet. We want the construction crew to get a good start, and we’ll evaluate in mid-March. That will allow us to make a better determination about May and June availability.”

Camping reservations at Randall Creek for arrivals before June 19 will open once a more solid completion date can be determined. Visitors can follow the construction project on the park’s Facebook page, To sign up for email notifications about reservations opening, contact

Register For Pelican Lake’s Becoming An Outdoor Family Event

WATERTOWN — Registration for Pelican Lake Recreation Area’s Becoming an Outdoor Family event opens Saturday, Feb. 29, at 7 a.m. CST.

Held July 15-17, the event is designed for beginner camping families, families who want to try new outdoor activities, and those who enjoy the company of like-minded families.

Workshop fee is $90 per family. The fee includes instruction in four skills sessions, program materials, and equipment use during the workshop. The full schedule can be viewed online at

The program includes instruction in your choice of four hands-on classes, participation in four general sessions, a t-shirt for each family member, and an electrical campsite for two nights. Families arrive Wednesday, July 15, and depart Friday, July 17. For an additional fee, registrants can come a day early or stay through the weekend, departing Sunday, July 19.

A park entrance license is required to enter the park and is not included in the registration fee. Participants are responsible for personal items such as bedding, towels, food, clothing, and a tent/camper.

Session choices include archery and air guns, birding and birdhouse building, deer hunting 101, fishing, geocaching and orienteering, wildlife hike, outdoor photography, paddling, plant and tree ID, trapping 101, and waterfowl hunting 101.

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