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Get rid of ice chunks, garbage when removing fish houses

Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed a few issues on several different lakes that need to be discussed. The issues are about safety and consideration for others. One concern is how many piles and/or blocks of ice I have seen just left on the ice. The blocks are usually left by spear fishermen after they move or remove their spear house. These blocks can be a hazard for others, especially at night. Can you imagine hitting one with your ATV, snowmobile, or vehicle?

Piles of ice have also been left by anglers after ice houses have been moved or removed. This year may be worse for these piles than in years past. The snow that has banked the houses has been iced by the warm weather and powerful sun and then frozen by the cooler temps. Some of the house flooding under the houses, along with the frozen slush piles can create problems for others. It only takes a few minutes with your ice chisel or a maul to knock down these lake obstructions. Use your shovel to spread the pile out after you chunk it up. Make sure you also use your chisel to get your wood blocks up out of the ice and take them with you as well.

It is hard to believe that we still have some of the homemade ice house builders forgetting to put reflectors on their ice houses. It is costly to run into a house for the owner of the vehicle, and a waste of the money to build it for those that get run into because it couldn't be seen. It is dangerous and can be resolved with such a simple solution for preventing this type of tragedy. Houses get run into every year somewhere in the state. I hope it hasn't happened locally, but it could, as there have been a few out on the ice in our area without reflectors. It is the law because it is a safety issue. I know that sometimes this type of accident isn't just because of reflectors. Excessive amounts of alcohol and driving ATV's, cars, trucks, and snowmobiles on the lake account for many of the winter ice accidents and problems.

Another preventable irritation for others has a very simple solution. Pick up your garbage and dispose of it properly. Leaving your mess behind for others to deal with is selfish, disrespectful and inconvenient. I know I am not alone in having the frustration of cleaning up others' messes. Cris Carter would say to this kind of immature littering behavior; "C'mon man." Have we not all been educated about the importance of good stewardship? Let's practice being good citizens of our community on the ice and water too.

We are getting to that time of year that you will want to make a plan for your fish house removal. South of Highways 10 and 34 you need to have your houses removed by midnight March 5. For the houses on lakes north of Highways 10 and 34 you will have until midnight March 19 this year. After the removal dates, shelters may only remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise when they are occupied. Also remember that it is illegal to leave or store your shelters at the public access. Please make sure you clean up after yourself when moving or removing your ice houses. Don't be "that guy."

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)