With several days of extreme cold weather in both South Dakota and Minnesota, you would think that everything should be fine to walk out on the lake to drill that ice fishing hole right? Best to be safe and go through your pre-ice fishing checklist.

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Of all the cool new ice fishing gifts you opened for Christmas nothing is more important than the lifejacket. Our South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department (SDGFP) encourages everyone, including those who have years of ice fishing experience, to double-check their gear.

After seeing the first ice anglers walk out on a country lake last week, it was a reminder that ice conditions are always changing.

To have a safe ice fishing experience SDGFP reminds us that it takes at least two inches of ice to support an angler, at least six inches to support an ice shack, and over a foot for a vehicle, but that applies to strong, clear ice.

And one other important note, dark or cloudy ice is not as strong as clear ice.

What you need for a safe and fun ice fishing outing:

Safe ice
Drill test holes
Warm clothing
Food and water
Leave the alcohol at home
Charged cell phone
Tell others your plan and timeline

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Stacker analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine which states have the most registered hunters. Read on to see how your state ranks on Stacker’s list.

Gallery Credit: Meagan Drillinger

Great Bear Ski Valley

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