With the warmer weather, comes the urge to get in as much ice fishing as possible before removing the ice fishing shack.

While this impulse is understandable and definitely worth following through on, the deadline is fast approaching for shack removal. 

According to the Ministry of Environment, the removal of any ice shack in southern Saskatchewan must be completed by Mar. 15.

North of Highway 16 in the northern region, fishermen have until Mar. 31.

This removal date must be obeyed, lest the fishermen in question receive a weighty fine, bigger than any fish they are going to catch by waiting an extra day.

Lindsey Leko, a conservation officer, doesn't want to see any of these $50,000 ice castles getting fined, let alone sinking to the bottom of the lake once the ice thins. 

"Over the years of doing this, we've had all sorts of excuses," said Leko. "So we always tell people just to plan and prepare and make arrangements to get that shack off the ice in proper time."

If the ice shack gets sunk, drifts away, or is discovered abandoned after the removal deadline, it can carry a littering fine back to the owner. 

"I think back in 2014 there was an individual that was charged $2,800 for leaving a shelter on the ice," said Leko. "That was in addition to a littering charge."

Shacks that get left out in the beginning freeze-thaw cycle of spring emergence can often become frozen to the lake. It is recommended that people bring a friend, and have a way to chip the ice or a lever to pry the shack free.

Another concern is that as it warms up, the ice is beginning to thin. In order to take a truck on the ice, it should be made certain that there is still 12" of ice to work with. Failing that thickness, lighter vehicles like sleds or ATVs may be used, or a shack may need to be pushed or dragged to the edge of the ice before being attached to a vehicle.