Great Lakes covered in 79 percent ice

The Great Lakes are covered in the most ice since 1996.

With ice comes ice fishing and Ken Allabaugh is more than happy with conditions on the lakes.

"The ice is doing extremely well" says Ken.

The Great Lakes are 79 percent covered in ice due to the frigid cold this season.

"It varies from 20 to 24 inches of ice to 26 to 28 inches so there is plenty of ice out there for fishing" Ken says.

Even with ice the thickest in nearly 2 decades, Ken still says safety is key.

"Know your conditions of what you're going out in, pay attention to the wind, the ice conditions, listen to what everybody tells you on the radio".

A radio being an important piece of equipment the United States Coast Guard recommends along with your cell phone.

"We encourage people to take a radio out, we are always monitoring channel 16 so that provides a different option" says Petty Officer 2nd Class Donald Hamilton of the Saginaw River station.

When the ice melts later this spring, the focus turns to preventing fishermen from becoming stranded on the broken ice, something the ocast guard says they are ready to respond to.

"We have our cables ready to respond when we walk up to half a mile out. Anything longer up to 10 miles our special purpose airboat is ready to go" says Hamilton.

While the air stays frigid and the ice stays frozen, fishermen will continue braving the elements, taking advantage of the uncommonly thick ice.

"Just stay out of the wind, have a heater, have all the nice stuff and try to stay warm" says Ken.