Guide: Lake danger not what it’s cracked up to be

Farm Forum

Jeff Katzer, a Devils Lake fishing guide, said reports of danger on Devils Lake winter ice have been blown out of proportion and are costing the ice-fishing industry money and customers.

Katzer, a guide for Woodland Resort located on Creel Bay, said reports earlier this month that ice roads on the gigantic lake were closed when cracks appeared near pressure ridges overstated the situation.

He said some ice roads were rerouted just to be on the safe side.

“But nobody is unsafe. Nobody’s fish house went through the ice. We get these pressure ridges every year, but this is a little worse than usual,” said Katzer, who thought the situation may be due to unusual cooling and warming conditions.

The Weather Guys website says the ridges are caused by the contraction and expansion of ice and there’s an exaggerated effect when there’s little or no insulating snow cover.

“We are moving people through up here. We moved stuff around because of the ridges, but you just need to be cautious around them,” he said.

He’s running about 15 miles of ice roads on Devils Lake, about half of normal, not because of the ice conditions, but because the fishing is very, very slow, according to Katzer.

“We have no idea why it’s so slow this year. Anglers all over the lake are saying that,” he said.

Katzer said the pressure ridges pop up every year in pretty much the same exact locations on the lake.

On Lake Sakakawea, Game and Fish warden Ryan Tunge said he’d advise everyone to steer clear of the pressure ridges. He said the ridges on Sakakawea mostly form out on the “big water,” the remote middle expanse of the lake, rather than the back bays where most people fish.

He said a pickup went through the ice on Beaver Bay two years ago, when the driver encountered an inverted pressure ridge, which buckled under the water, not heaved above where it could be seen.

“Just steer clear of ’em. It’s not worth losing a pickup truck or possibly more for a fish,” Tunge said.