Vogt’s Notes: I’ll never stop stressing it - Ice anglers, be careful on that early ice

Be aware of safety tips when venturing out on the ice at any time of the season

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Last Saturday night, my husband and I were bewildered to see around two dozen vehicles parked just off Highway 371 along Round Lake.

Temps were in the single digits, so we knew ice was forming.

But we still couldn't believe all the anglers who were out there somewhere in the dark on the ice.

I’ve seen them on North Long and Round Lakes as I drive by, many times looking like they’re standing on the thinnest sheet of black ice.

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I say a silent prayer for them, and do my best to trust they know what they are doing.


We’ve heard about the 200 ice anglers who became stranded when the Upper Red Lake ice they were on broke away. Everyone - those stranded and the rescuers - made it off the ice safely.

A Department of Natural Resources conservation officer who responded said the incident was caused by a combination of strong wind coming from the south end of the lake with early and unpredictable ice.

That’s what scares me - “early and unpredictable ice.”

I know all too well that not all situations end successfully, as the one did on Upper Red Lake.

So anglers, I reiterate the rules the DNR and other law enforcement agencies share this time of year.

While ice is never 100% safe, ice in the early stages of formation is particularly dangerous, the DNR said in a news release. Falls through the ice or into open water at this time of year can turn tragic quickly, and each year result in serious injuries or deaths.

The DNR warns parents to watch their kids closely and don’t let them play on early ice.

DNR ice safety tips include:


  • Wait until there’s at least 4 inches of new, clear ice before walking out onto it.
  • Wear a foam life jacket or flotation suit.
  • Don’t go out alone, and let someone know about trip plans and expected return time.
  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure.
  • Check ice thickness at regular intervals; conditions can change quickly.
  • Bring a cellphone or personal locator beacon.
  • Inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts before heading out.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page: “Remember ice conditions can change as you move around on the lakes. What was good thick ice where you left shore can be completely different depending on where you are on the lake.”

The sheriff’s office shared a graphic with these recommendations for ice thickness:

  • Less than 4 inches, stay off the ice.
  • 4 inches to walk.
  • 5-7 inches for a snowmobile.
  • 7-8 inches for a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle.
  • 9-12 inches to drive a car.
  • 13-17 inches to drive a truck.
  • 20-plus inches to drive a heavy duty truck with a wheelhouse shelter.

Be careful out there.


A couple weeks ago in this column, I asked readers to join me in writing down three things you are grateful for every day in the next month.

I plan to really think hard each day and reflect on what I’m truly thankful for in hopes of alleviating holiday stress

How are you doing on this?

The idea is that writing down what you are grateful for will help reduce stress and improve your mood, especially during the chaos of the holidays.

I’ve been diligent in writing down three things every day. However, I don’t know that it’s helping me much.

It’s part of a “Surviving the Season” challenge I’m doing through work, and I do admit the weekly tips I receive via email to successfully weather the holidays are encouraging and helpful.


So far, tips include “embrace the simple things” and “simplify for your sanity.”

I’ll keep writing down what I’m grateful for, and I’ll share more of this journey as the holiday season progresses.

Just remember - you don’t have to do it all.

And thank you to those who shared what they’re grateful for on my Facebook page. Keep the comments coming!

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt - Vogt's Notes.jpg
Nancy Vogt, PineandLakes Echo Journal Editor

Opinion by Nancy Vogt
Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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