Anglers have limited window to retrieve fish houses as standing water turns to ice

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Another warmup is headed our way, and that has sent some Minnesota anglers scrambling to pull their fish houses to safety.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office put out a warning on Wednesday about standing water on the ice. Greg Kappes was at Lake Minnetonka on Thursday to retrieve his own ice house — and quickly.

“What I saw was like, ‘Wow! This is not good,'” he said.

Ice houses are a common sight on Lake Minnetonka during the winter, but unusually warm weather and heavy rain storms in the past few weeks have led to melting snow and standing water.

“I saw some guys, and it looked like they were kneeling down, and I realized they weren’t kneeling down. The water was up to their knees,” Kappes said. “Then I saw these fish houses, and this was 2 feet up on their fish house. This was bad — I mean really bad.”

Dropping temperatures are now causing that standing water to refreeze, raising concerns that if anglers don’t act soon, their fish houses could get stuck on the lake.

“Well the issue that you’re going to have now is that your ice house is going to be in 6 inches of ice once it freezes, and you’re going to have a really hard time getting that out when it’s time to get the ice houses off the lake,” Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Petrone said.

The official time to get fish houses off the lakes is coming soon. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the deadline for shelter removal is March 6 for southern inland waters and March 20 up north.

Temperatures nearing 40 degrees this weekend could allow for others to get their houses, but another deep freeze and chances for snow next week could present issues for people who wait much longer.