BAY COUNTY (WJRT) - (03/12/19) - The official start of spring is just over a week away, but another important date is fast approaching for anyone who leaves their shanty on the ice overnight.
"Midnight on March 15, so we'll give you the day to fish on that and keep your shanties up, but that night we're going to want you to take your ice shanties off," said Lt. Jeremy Payne with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The March 15 deadline is for the northern half of the Lower Peninsula, including Bay County.
Lt. Payne said one reason for the deadline is safety.
"We want to keep our resources clean," Lt. Payne said. "We want to make sure that in summer months, when you're out there boating you're not hitting debris and what not that's in the water."
Not removing your ice shanty could lead to a $500 fine. In addition, if your ice shanty has to be fished out of the water it'll cost you even more in recovery expenses.
Some angler told us the state imposed deadline comes later than their self-imposed deadline.
"We're ready to start up our season for work, so after today I'll be all done and then on to spring fishing," explained Josh Popp who was heading out onto the Saginaw Bay from Linwood. "After all that ice blew out when we had the 60 mile an hour windstorms, I haven't gone out far after that."
And with the temperatures predicted for Thursday Lt. Payne said Mother Nature will likely force some anglers off the ice before the Friday deadline.
"It is questionable, it is unpredictable, you know we just want to make sure people are out and recreating and doing the things they want to do, ice fishing and whatever it is, but we want to make sure that they're safe," Payne said.
Click on the 'Related Link' with this story to learn more about ice fishing regulations from the DNR.