CEDAR RAPIDS- A return to colder, and more normal winter weather, has at least a few fans. And a good number were out on the ice on eastern Iowa lakes and rivers this New Year's Day.
Ice fishing was a much riskier recreation last winter due to the higher-than-normal temperatures. In fact, three Iowans drowned in just a week's time in late January and early February after falling through thin ice. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) warned anglers to get off the ice much sooner than normal after those fatal accidents.
But this winter, the ice is a whole lot different. At the Prairie Park Fishery in Cedar Rapids, at least a dozen ice anglers were out trying their luck over the noon hour on the holiday.
One experienced angler, Brad Frisbie, said last year just wasn't that much fun or that safe.
"Last year as bad as I wanted to go out I wasn't going to go out on three inches of so-so ice. And I'm just happy to be out here this year getting a chance to do it," Frisbie said.
Those who fish on ice said three inches of ice is usually considered the bare minimum to go out on frozen rivers and lakes. The ice at the Prairie Park Fishery, a backwater of the Cedar River, was at least six inches deep.
One of the anglers who lost his life last winter after breaking through thin ice was from Cedar Falls. The other deadly accident took the lives of two people who drowned in a farm pond in Central Iowa.