Ice Concerns Highlight 'Free Fishing Weekend'

On Saturday and Sunday, you can fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a license, thanks to the DNR's annual 'Free Fishing Weekend'.

But a warm winter has officials urging fisherman to be especially careful. 

      "Use caution when you go out," says Warden Matthew Groppi. "Use your auger to check ice depths. Near the shorelines are where it thaws out first, so those are the areas people need to use the most caution." 

The Milwaukee Fire Department spent the weekend practicing shallow-ice rescues at the Summerfest Lagoon. The department had no trouble simulating falls through the ice, a warning to those who venture out this weekend. In some areas, ice depths are less than 2 inches. 

      "There's no way for sure to know that the ice is safe," says Captain Christopher Schutte. 

Schutte is urging residents not to attempt rescues if someone does fall through the ice. Instead, call 9-1-1, and attempt to throw a flotation device or rope to the individual who has fallen through. If you do fall in, Schutte says use your elbows to keep your chest above the water. If your able, pull yourself out of the ice, and roll away from the hole in the ice. 

"The last thing you want to do is stand up, because chances are you're going to go right through again." 

The DNR is offering free loaner gear to those who would like to try ice or open-water fishing this weekend.

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