Sheriff's Column: Ice fishing and ice safety
Each month I speak about how fortunate we are to live in an area that many people can only dream of.
We have such a wide array of things to do whether that be enjoying our trails, our change in seasons or our area lakes and woods.
With the weather ever changing we are in full force of our colder months, which brings us to the time when we need to talk of ice safety as well as ice fishing.
I was born and raised in our lakes area and I consider myself fortunate to be brought up to hunt, fish and trap. I live to enjoy the change of seasons and will continuously fish our area lakes, in the winter and summer months, for as long as I am physically able to do so.
I realize and understand that ice fishing on first ice can be almost magical as it looks like a sheet of glass and it seems as though fish are willing to take many of the things you show them.
With that said, I continue to mention to people that there is no such thing as safe ice and I will repeat this warning as long as I’m your sheriff.
As you read this article, let us keep in mind that when we venture out on our roads, we never go out thinking that we will be the one involved in a crash today. The same thing applies to falling through the ice; we will never be the ones to fall in as it only happens to other people.
In reality, it can happen to any one of us. It does happen and creates a very traumatic situation for all involved. No fish in this world is worth your life, your equipment and certainly the lives of the ones who come to rescue you.
It is very well known that current and wind are large factors in effecting the strength of the ice. Many people believe that because we have ice on the lake that the current is not moving underneath. This is far from the truth and it should be known that you may have 8 inches in one spot and 1 inch in another due to the changing currents and wind.
Oftentimes we see a thin skim of ice on area lakes, snow blows over the top of it and we believe that it is thick enough to venture out. We subsequently have a person or several people in the ice cold water fighting to keep afloat and, in turn, fighting for their lives.
Springs, rivers and streams all have a factor in determining the thickness of the ice. Logical thinking is when a body of water is connected to a river or stream, it will cause unstable and weak ice. Spots where the body of water is slightly deeper than the surrounding water can also cause the ice to be slower to form and generally weaker.
Some simple tips for all of us to remember before venturing out on our area lakes:
• Know the area, the direction of the wind, the topography of the area and certainly the ice breaks that you may cross.
• Watch the temperature. While it may not be warm enough to melt the ice, it may very well weaken it substantially.
• Go to areas and waters that you or someone with you may know. If you don’t know the area, take some time to get to know it. We are blessed with wonderful bait shops, guides and people who are very familiar with our area. They have always been very helpful in passing on knowledge and I know for a fact that they would be happy to help in any way possible.
• If you’ve ever been in the water in the winter time, you understand that you will be in a state of shock when it happens and you will not last long in that water before you go under. So, go out as far as you can make it back if you’re wet.
• Please exercise caution and remember that no number of fish and no costly equipment is worth your life. You will be risking not only yours but also the lives of the people who come to save you.