Recent thaw puts damper on winter activities - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Recent thaw puts damper on winter activities

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Many ice fishermen, snowmobilers and ice skaters got a nice start to the season, but are now seeing their plans put on hold.

Just out of downtown Madison, anglers come from far and wide anxious to catch the big one. Some are luckier than others, some more daring than others.

"If it's even marginal I don't step out there," says Gordon Hartman.

A good strategy to have when you're standing over thousands of gallons of freezing cold water.

"If you know the ice, we don't take any chances," says Bill Marks.

But not everyone shares the same motto. With so much excitement some get a little carried away with the fishing.

"Recently the warm temperatures and things like that have warmed it up and the ice isn't very solid out there," says Lt. Jerod Nadolny with the Madison Fire Department.

For Nadolny and the rest of the Madison Ice Rescue Team, those are the people they typically deal with. The people who just can't help but push the limits.

"We've gone to calls where ice shanties are half in the water already because the ice is starting to melt and people are standing next to them fishing," Nadolny says.

Not only is thawing ice tough for ice fishing, but if you like figure skating or pond hockey, your days on the rink might also be numbered.

"We are thinking that we'll need to close our ice rinks for the weekend," says Madison Parks Department Community Relations Manager Laura Whitmore.

With ice turning to slush, conditions just aren't as safe as they should be -- keeping rinks, sled hills and cross country trails closed until the cold comes back.

"When we say they're closed please stay off the rinks in order for us to get these back into shape quicker," Whitmore says.

The good news for ice skaters is that rinks can open back up as soon as it gets cold again. For snowmobiling, however, it might take a little longer to recover since the trails are starting to get a little bare.

For ice fishing, there's still enough ice in several parts of the lakes, but firefighters and ice rescuers urge fisherman to use common sense before getting out onto the ice.

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