With early spring, use caution launching boatsThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants early season boaters to know that conditions at ramps may make boat launching a challenge.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants early season boaters to know that conditions at ramps may make boat launching a challenge.
Due to this year's early ice out, DNR crews are faced with the need to inspect, repair and make ready launch ramps and access sites much earlier than anticipated. Many launch ramps have also been damaged by ice action, which is an annual occurrence. Launch ramp repairs and dock installations have started statewide and should be completed by the May 12 fishing opener.
Boaters can help by being prepared to inspect the ramp above and below the water to ensure it is in good condition prior to launching.
"Regardless of the time of year, it's always a good idea to check the condition of the ramp prior to launching to ensure there are no hazardous conditions present that may impede access or cause damage to equipment," said Nancy Stewart, public access program coordinator for the DNR's Parks and Trails Division. "In addition, many lakes statewide are experiencing low water levels, which may also make launching a boat more difficult."
Boaters should take extra time and effort when launching their boat this spring to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable boating experience:
Check the condition of the ramp to ensure it will accommodate the launch of the watercraft.
Make sure watercraft is water worthy prior to heading out on the water.
Have hip boots or waders available in case there is a need to enter the water to help guide the boat and trailer, especially where docks are not available.
Lower the motor only after being assured there is sufficient water depth.
Watch for free floating ice sheets and other floating obstructions that may be present.
Boaters also are reminded to observe all laws aimed at preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, including emptying all water from bait containers and bilges, and leaving drain plugs removed while transporting a boat. The DNR also points out that while the early spring has brought unseasonable warmth, water temperatures will remain quite cold for some time yet, so wearing a life jacket is strongly recommended.