Keep-off-iceWhile most Iowans enjoyed this week’s warm, non-winter weather, the spring-like temperatures caused significant melting of many lakes and streams, making ice fishing iffy for anglers.

Even though the warm spell is over now, the effects remain, according to Joe Larscheid, chief of the fisheries bureau of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“The season started off really well,” Larscheid says. “We had really good ice fishing in southern Iowa and very good ice fishing in northern Iowa, but this unseasonably warm weather has a consequence. We’re starting to melt ice and it’s becoming less and less safe to ice fish.”

Larscheid says even during the dead of a very frigid winter, ice fishermen have to exercise extreme caution. “Ice is never considered safe,” he says. “There’s always currents under the ice, there’s things going on even when you have a lot of cold weather, you can have weak ice. You always have to be careful.” For one adult, the ice needs to be at least four inches thick. For a group, it should be five to six inches thick.

Larscheid says ice fishing conditions are now questionable in roughly half the state. “In southern Iowa, some of our ponds are down to less than one inch of ice right now,” he says. “In northern Iowa, there’s still some areas that are safe but it’s starting to pull away from shore which shows the ice is getting weaker.”

The southwest Iowa city of Shenandoah had a very unseasonable high temperature on Wednesday of 68-degrees, but forecasters say much of the state will see highs back in the 20s by the weekend. Learn more about ice fishing conditions at

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)