Winter weather brings ice fishing back after slow start to the season

NOW: Winter weather brings ice fishing back after slow start to the season

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - The past week of snowfall has opened plenty of opportunities for winter activities, not just sledding and tubing. The age-old practice of ice fishing gets a big boost as well.

ABC57’s Dante Stanton visited Potato Creek State Park Sunday, where he spoke to local ice fishermen to learn more about it.

Max Horton, who's been ice-fishing for 66 years, said of the weather, “A week ago last Thursday, this was all open water. And within four days, we had four inches of ice. That’s unusual.”

Unusual, but nearly perfect conditions for ice fishers looking to get out on the water after months of unusually high temps.

Adam Brinkhoff, who's been ice-fishing for over 10 years, said, “I tell you what, once we finally get ice, you gotta jump on it, because we don’t have it much through the seasons anymore. So, you got a good week of ice fishing and then it’s dried up.”

While some scoff at the idea of trekking across a frozen body of water, for these men, the appeal is simple.

Brinkhoff explained, “Nobody out there to bother you. You get out there and you just hear nature. You hear the birds, the geese flying by, as soon as the sun starts settling and the temps start dropping, you hear that ice cracking and shifting and making more ice and it’s just the coolest sound ever.”

The peaceful nature is a big draw for many ice fishers, but the safety aspect can’t be overlooked, whether you’re a beginner, or a vet like Max Horton.

Horton added, “Safety is the main thing, learn how to read the ice, ya can’t see nothing but snow. It’s nice to get hooked up with somebody else for the safety point of it. And there’s always safety, nowadays we have float suits. They actually float if you fall through.”

Horton recommends starting simple with a spud, a tool in the shape of a pointed walking stick that you poke into ice ahead of where you’re walking to make sure the surface is solid enough.

He says you can start small or go big with heavy equipment and sleds.

Horton explained, “You can start out with just a couple of poles and a spud would do it, you can punch holes with a spud. But the easier I make it on myself, the heavier the sled gets!”

It's also not recommended to go ice fishing unless the ice is at least four inches thick according to

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