Welcome to the start of the 2021 portion of the ice fishing season!

Thankfully, we have fishing as a distraction from this continuing pandemic and the craziness of the current state of our politics.

You can control your efforts, not always your outcomes -- a lesson well learned by those of us that fish that easily translates to all aspects of life.

Learn from your experiences, see the beauty, and enjoy your journey -- lessons from fishing that also apply well to life right now. And, to quote Aaron Rodgers from a few years ago -- RELAX -- a great benefit from fishing, and a great message for life as we know it now as well.

Fishing can help drown out all the noise and put what is important to us in perspective. For most of us it is faith in a belief system, family, friends, work, and participating in the aspects of life with others that bring fun, joy, excitement, and relaxation to our world.

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If you are taking the time to read this, it is probably because fishing is in the mix for you with fulfilling some of the wants and needs in your life, like it is in mine.

I have been seeing many starting to drive their pickup trucks out on the area lakes. As soon as one person starts, others start the old “monkey see, monkey do” behavior and start driving out, too.

Then when there are more driving out, more think that it must be OK. Don’t be that person. We have a foot of ice on the area lakes now. Only small vehicles (not half-ton or bigger trucks), sleds, side-by-sides, wheelers, or track rigs should be driving on the ice -- until we get another cold snap and build another 3 or 4 more inches of ice, and have a consistent 15-plus inches of ice on the area lakes.

Single-axle or skid houses only, for now, also to be safe and reduce the risk of flooding areas. Do not crowd areas now, either, as the ice is at a thickness that can still have significant sagging with too much weight in an area.

With more people taking up ice fishing, as observed with the increase in ice activity, some do not have good ice knowledge. I observe this as I see way too many that are not only driving on the ice, but traveling/driving too fast!

Slow down! Ice driving speeds when we get started with more vehicle traffic should be 10-15 mph. A 20 mph max speed if we get over two feet of ice. The weight of a vehicle traveling on the ice pushes a wave under the ice. Be the role model, and help others approach ice with common sense and safety.

When we do get another cold snap, it will not only build more ice, but will help firm up the snow cover on the ice. The above-freezing temps we have had recently, as well as the significant bright sun days, have melted some snow and made it a very wet and heavy covering.

The cold will freeze that up with the significant moisture in the snow now. Travel will be even better with a firm crust over the top of the ice. Be safe, make good decisions, and I am expecting this 2021 to be better for all of us.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide service in Detroit Lakes)