Ice fishing season is almost over in Saskatchewan and the Ministry of Environment would like to remind people that their ice shacks have to be off any lakes north of Highway 16 by March 31 and shacks south of the highway should have been off by March 15.
Every year there are several ice shacks that are abandoned on the lakes and this causes problems for not only for the ministry, who have to spend extra money and man power to remove them, but can be dangerous for people who use the lakes in the summer time if the structures fall through the ice.
“It creates some hazards, some environmental issues depending on the materials and stuff they’re made of, if they fall into the water and stuff like that,” said Richard Hildebrand, conservation officer with the Ministry of Environment. “Down the road, once the ice melts off, then if they’re out there and they’re submerged, it could create hazards for boaters and skiers.”
Some people abandon their shacks for various reasons, whether they’re frozen to the ice and tough to get out or they wait too long until the ice becomes unsafe, but Hildebrand said leaving a shack out there can come with consequences.
“Just for example, last year, there was a fellow out of Saskatoon that left a shack and the courts ended up fining him with a $2,800 fine for leaving his shack out there and littering and whatever else is associated with that,” he said. “That’s a pretty expensive fish.”
When a shack is left behind it can also pose risks to the conservation officers who are forced to go out and remove them, because by the time they realize they are abandoned, the ice is starting to become unsafe.
Ice fishing season for lakes south of Highway 16 ends on March 31 and for the northern zones it ends on April 15. So even though shacks have to be off the ice before these dates, there is still time to go out and enjoy some winter angling.
“We want people to get out there and enjoy. We’ve got some great fishing in the province and just try and be out there and be safe. This time of year, it can be a lot of fun out there and generally the fish tend to be biting quite a bit,” said Hildebrand.
“Make sure the ice is safe and just watch, especially this time of year if you get near running water and things like that. The ice can be of poor quality, so make sure that you’re testing it before you get carried away and go out there.
“Have fun and just make sure that you take home any garbage you take out.”