OSHKOSH – There’s barely any snow on the ground, but ice fishing has already started on Lake Winnebago waters.

“Looked like a good day to be fishing. Thought I’d give her a try. Didn’t do a whole lot, but it beat working,” said Larry Kissinger, an Oshkosh resident.

This isn’t the earliest start we’ve seen, but is a departure from recent history, according to Don Herman, who’s been checking ice depths for local anglers for years.

“Actually in the last 10 years, this is pretty early. Normally it’s been the third week of December, last week of December, something like that. I’ve already seen it where during deer hunting they’ve been out, but this is kind of early this year,” said Herman with Otter Street Fishing Club.

In more sheltered lakes and back bays, the ice is already thick enough to walk on.

At Asylum Bay near Oshkosh, it was about four inches thick across most of the bay – the minimum thickness to be considered safe to walk on.

On some of these bays, the water isn’t too deep. So even if you go through the ice, you won’t go in too far.

But the risk is even greater in places like the Fox River and Green Bay.

We couldn’t find any anglers out just yet, and the Coast Guard says that’s probably for the better.

“I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t recommend that at all yet. A lot of the ice that’s forming is very suspect and thin,” according to Wayne Spritka, senior chief with the Sturgeon Bay Coast Guard.

In fact, they say it’s probably best to think twice about the ice anywhere you go this early in the year.

Even though the best fishing can be early in the season, no fish is worth a life.