Ice fishing in the North Woods has become synonymous with the wintertime, but because of county budget restrictions, not having a large enough workforce or the equipment to plow certain boat landings, angler options may be limited this season.

Many local, town-owned landings are taken care of by the towns themselves. However, Vilas County and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)-owned landings are not plowed in the wintertime. This was addressed by Todd Bierman, park and recreation supervisor of Vilas County Forestry, Recreation, and Land Department.

“The boat landings and forest roads in Vilas County forest are not plowed in the wintertime,” said Bierman. “Just like the state of Wisconsin and the U.S. Forest Service does not plow the landings or roads in their forests.”

Bierman highlighted that this is not something new. However, he noted that the department could push for plowing equipment and staff items to be budgeted in, in the future, but fiscal constraints have prohibited them from doing so thus far.

On a town level, there are many open landings that are taken care of in the wintertime. Bierman did note that the county-owned landings on Boot and Hunter lakes in the town of Cloverland are taken care of by the county.

Fisherman should be advised that the Hunter Lake landing turnaround is not plowed, but the parking lot is accessible. However, Boot Lake’s landing is wide open with plenty of parking space and lake accessibility.

Comments from two local fisherman at the Hunter Lake landing last week detailed how in the past the turnaround was plowed, which helped make it less likely to get stuck getting on and off the lake.

Cloverland Chairman Scott Maciosek spoke on how ice fishing is an asset to the community and if the county-owned landings aren’t plowed, this will prompt fishermen to go elsewhere.

Town of Washington Chairman Jim Egan stated that the town-owned landings on Deerskin, Anvil and Lynx lakes are plowed throughout the season by the town. Additionally, the town takes care of the county-owned Eagle Lake landing road and parking lot as a courtesy.

The town of Lincoln only owns one landing on Catfish Lake, but it is plowed and taken care of by the town, according to town Chairman Bill Hassey. Dale Mayo, town of Conover chairman, added that the town-owned landings on North and South Twin, Stormy and Pioneer lakes are plowed and maintained by the town as well.

Bierman also highlighted that the county could potentially outsource the plowing to different agencies, but in the past these agencies have been hesitant to take on the job because of the liability aspect. He noted that a lot of individuals may think lake ice is safe if the landing is plowed, but that is not always the case.

All anglers and adventurers going out on the ice this season are reminded to practice safety, check ice depths and take preventative measures, if one does fall through the ice, by wearing a life jacket. For additional ice safety tips, visit dnr.wisconsin.gov.

For more information, contact Bierman at [email protected] or visit vilascountywi.gov.