Safe fishing, not yet: Patterson Lake and Indian Creek have 4 and 5 inches of ice, but caution urgedThe last couple years the sport of ice fishing has taken a backseat to inclement weather conditions.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
The last couple years the sport of ice fishing has taken a backseat to inclement weather conditions.
Last year the Dickinson area was hit by a hard snow that resulted in only a select few having the resources to travel out on the ice.
“Last year there wasn’t much ice fishing at all around southwestern North Dakota,” said Jeff Hendrickson, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department southwest district fisheries supervisor. “As soon as the lakes froze over, we got that snow and it just made for ugly conditions. There was so much slush that people couldn’t even get out on the lake.”
The season reached December with a so far mild winter, ice fishers are still venturing out to catch some walleyes, northern pike or perch.
“I did see someone ice fishing on Patterson Lake last week Wednesday,” Hendrickson said. “It was 62 degrees and somebody was out there ice fishing.”
Hendrickson and Greg Knutson of Andrus Outdoors in Dickinson each said travel out on the ice with extreme caution.
“One of the guys that I talked to went out there (Patterson Lake) and just kept drilling holes just to see how see how thick the ice is,” Knutson said. “Right now I would stand fairly close to shore. The middle is going to be pretty thin right now. Until it gets really cold it’s going to stay like that for awhile. If there isn’t more than four inches of ice, people shouldn’t be out there at all.”
Knutson said as of right now the main two spots ice fishing is occurring is Patterson Lake and Indian Creek, located outside of Regent. Lake Sakakawea, the most part, isn’t fully frozen over.
“Patterson Lake has approximately 4 inches of ice, so you still have to use caution when you are out there,” Knutson said. “Indian Creek is about 5 inches of ice.”
Though the thickness of the ice will continue to increase as the winter months go on, Hendrickson said ice is never a certainty.
“We always say ice is never safe,” Hendrickson said. “It’s never totally safe. People adventuring out this time of year have to be really careful, pick a lot of holes when you go out, walk single file and by all means don’t be driving out there until there’s 15 inches of ice.”
With Patterson Lake being restocked just a couple years ago, the catching of fish can be much easier as this point in time.
The fish that’s catching most fishermen’s attention at Patterson Lake are walleyes. Knutson said people should throw back some of the younger walleyes.
“The thing right now, it would be nice if some of the people would throw back the little walleyes,” Knutson said. “The little walleyes are starting to bite and they are only about 12-inches long. They aren’t really big enough to eat right now.”
Walleyes aren’t the only fish being caught in Patterson Lake. There some good size northern pike and perch out there.
“They are catching some nice northern pike out there,” Knutson said.