REGINA -- Saskatchewan lakes are expected to be busy over the weekend, with forecasted temperatures above zero drawing many fishers out.

With a potentially busy fishing weekend comes a set of annual reminders to make any fishing trips safe.

John Maczko with Amphibious Response Support Unit One, a Saskatchewan-based water rescue team, said it’s important for fishers to let someone know where they’re going as well as what time they should be expected back.

“If you don’t arrive in time, make sure that they start to try to contact you and also take additional precautions or additional measures if necessary by calling first responders,” Maczko said, adding there are tools available for use in case of falling through the ice.

Maczko also recommends looking out for certain signs of thin ice like a difference in colour or ridges appearing, especially when riding an ATV or snowmobile or driving a vehicle onto the ice.

“It may appear to have some melting as well and those areas are certainly unsafe,” Maczko said. “It’s really about taking those precautions, really having a good look when you’re going out.”

The reminders are amplified by a recent incident that saw a 25-year-old ice fisher riding an ATV go under the ice at a reservoir in southeastern Saskatchewan.

Ice fishing is also proving to be popular with the normal slate of winter activities cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

Greg Prokopetz, who co-owns Pokey’s Tackle Shop in Regina with his brother, said he’s seen both the holiday rush and a separate rush to get on the ice in recent weeks.

“People want to get outdoors, they’re tired of being locked up in a house, we got some of the best ice fishing in western Canada right here around Regina,” Prokopetz said.

“We got young families, and there’s no hockey, no soccer, or anything like this so you can get the kids out and some are really taking to it, the kids are really starting to enjoy it.”

Ice conditions can vary based on the weather and the body of water and the province recommends thickness should be checked before every trip onto the ice.