Rescuers emphasize safety as anglers get on the ice - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rescuers emphasize safety as anglers get on the ice


MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin ice fishermen are expected to take over local waters as the cold temperatures continue.

"Early ice is one of the favorite time for anglers to be out there, the water is rich in oxygen so the fish are active and looking for bait," Madison Fire Department Lt. Jon Mast tells 27 News.

At the same time, Mast says this can be one of the most dangerous times to take part in the sport. What they call 'first ice' or early ice isn't as strong as what fishermen see in mid-winter. Over the weekend, the lake rescue team responded to their first call when an angler fell through the ice near Brittingham Park in Madison. Mast says that person is okay, but the incident is a reminder of safety.

"Take a look at the ice when you're going from land on to the water. Make sure it's nice, good, thick ice, we're looking for, you need four clear inches of ice to support one person," Mast says. He adds that the ice should be thicker thank 4" for more than one person and any gear.

The team also wanted to show 27 News what happens when someone falls in the water so they geared up a member and sent him onto the ice attached to a rope. "You see, that's the problem is that when people fall through that ice continues to break away in front of you," Mast points out. That's why he says it's important to check ice thickness along the way, always have a floatation device and fish with a buddy.

Mast says the lake rescue team responded to 13 calls for people needing help on the ice last year. One of those calls was deadly.

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