Ice conditions are in great shape and getting better. We have very solid clear ice ranging from 8 to 12 inches as of Thursday. We will continue to develop good ice with the consistent cold weather and the minimal snow coverage. If we can get a good base of 15 inches of ice or more before we get any significant snow, we will be in for a quality ice season with minimal risk for flooding, slushing, and sagging ice.

Stick to sleds, ATVs, and UTVs for another week to maintain good ice safety practices. We should have a consistent 15 inches of ice for truck travel.

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More skid and wheel houses are showing up on the ice, and as others see this, they start getting anxious to get their own out. Do not be the "monkey see, monkey do" type of person. Make good informed decisions for yourself, and always err on the side of caution.

For the next week, only single axle houses and skid houses should be pulled out. Do not pull the houses out with trucks at this time. Use sleds, ATVs, or UTVs to pull permanent houses onto the ice for the next week. Wait with trucks and double axle houses until we are pushing 15 to 18 inches of ice. Do not crowd areas with heavy houses, rigs, and foot traffic.

Gary Thompson and his crew with Tri State Diving also do ice recovery work. He has been busy already with the early ice season, as people take unnecessary risks on the ice. Crossing pressure ridges has been an issue already a number of times this season that has prompted using his expertise, experience, and equipment.

If you do get into trouble, don't create a bigger problem for yourself trying to solve a problem that you don't have the knowledge, experience, or equipment to handle yourself safely. Do not put others at risk. Utilize available experts like Gary to handle your situation.

Remember, we are very early on the calendar still for this ice season compared to the last number of years. You will have plenty of time to get out and enjoy this ice fishing season. Red Lake and Lake of the Woods are still not yet letting Vehicles onto the ice. Don't be in a rush here. We are wise to be behind those classic early ice fishing locations, and follow their lead when it comes to vehicles and larger houses making their way onto the ice. We will still be driving out on the ice a week or more before Christmas. So follow the advice from a few years back of Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and R-E-L-A-X.

FYI, the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Fishing Show will be going on through Sunday at the Scheels Arena in Fargo. Lots of great deals, informational presentations, and the latest in ice fishing gear/equipment/electronics/lures. Dave Wassness of the F-M Walleye Club will be holding a kids clinic on Sunday.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)