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Ice May Not be Safe for Fishing

December 10, 2012

TOP PHOTO: Bonnie Jo Hanson/Times-Record Ice anglers should heed this sign. Colder weather in the forecast should help make the ice on lake Ashtabula, as well as other area lakes, more stable. BOTTOM PHOTO: Scott Tichy/Special to the Times-Record This ice house sank into Lake Ashtabula last week. Ice conditions on the lake are uncertain because of warm weather and rain earlier in the week.

Ice anglers should know what they’re doing before they go out onto the ice. This is what Scott Tichy, park ranger for the Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Ashtabula, wants people to know.

No ice is ever really safe, said Tichy, but ice conditions on Lake Ashtabula are currently poor. Some of the ice is thick enough for walking on, and some isn’t. And when a person is on the ice, he can’t tell if it is an inch thick or four inches thick, the recommended thickness for walking on.

It’s best to stay off until the weather is cooler, urged Tichy.
The ice on Lake Ashtabula is particularly unstable now because of recent weather, he said. Last Friday the temperature hit 50 degrees and it rained on Monday.

In fact, said Tichy, in the past several days two permanent ice houses went through the ice on Lake Ashtabula.

Tichy recommended waiting until ice is at least four inches thick before walking on it. At this point, Tichy refers to the ice as “bucket ice,” or ice that is only safe for fishing with a pail. Even a portable ice house could be too heavy on four to six-inch thick ice by the time one factors in the weight of the house, an auger and other equipment and a person.

ATVs, snowmobiles and portable ice houses can more safely be on the ice when it’s six to ten inches thick.

At 10 to 16-inches its safe for small cars and pick-ups to be on the ice, though the North Dakota Department of Natural Resources suggests that it’s best to avoid driving on ice.

At 16 inches or more, it’s considered safe for mid-sized cars or pick-ups to be on the ice as long as it’s solid and clear, according to the DNR website.

Remember, though, ice on Lake Ashtabula changes day to day, according to Tichy.

due to currents and the such.

Before venturing onto any ice, Tichy recommends the following safety guidelines; talk to local folks before going out, this could be park rangers, resort owners, or cabin owners who are familiar with the lake; bring ice picks to climb out of the ice in case of a break-through; and ice anglers should always let someone know where they are.

“Be safe,” said Tichy. “The fish are biting, but fishing’s not that great yet.”

Tichy recalled a drowning in Jamestown last winter when a man fell through the ice last year.

“We don’t want that to happen here,” he said.

And if a ice house goes through the ice, Tichy pointed out, the owner is responsible for getting it out, which could be expensive by the time the owner pays for a crane, a driver, and all the other costs involved. If the owner doesn’t get a ice house out of a lake, a hefty fine may be in store, he added.

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