Want to get out on the ice and start fishing? It’s not safe yet
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – You may want to wait before heading to West Michigan lakes to fish. After a slow start to the season, ice anglers are eager to hit the hard water.
But the flash freeze of recent weeks, with inches of snow added on top, may be giving hunters a false sense of confidence.
“The weather was warm before this cold snap, so the water temperatures never dropped below freezing before we got snowed in,” said PJ Gullett, DNR conservation officer. “So we didn’t get a strong, clear layer of ice underneath.”
Officer Goulet works primarily within Ottawa County.
“If we had that weight, the milky would look like frozen ice or frozen snow, and that’s not normally solid ice,” Gullett said.
On Wednesday, Sgt. John Knott of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division was called to a water rescue involving an ice fisherman.
While the hunter is fine, Sergeant. Knott says the lakes in Ottawa County are not safe.
“I’m not going on any ice in Ottawa County at this point,” said Sgt. Note. “I’m an ice fisherman, too. I’m dying to get there, but it’s not worth chasing a fish with your life.”
How can you mitigate risks if you decide to go out on the ice?
“People can bring their potatoes with them,” Officer Goulet said. “You know, you can poke the ice and check it as it moves and check its strength as it moves. Ice picks are made to have retractable metal picks coming out of their ends. If you go through that, you’re going to need to get those metal picks to cut through the ice and pull yourself out. “
You should also bring a throw rope and a flotation device, preferably a life jacket. You can find them at stores like Brenner’s Bait and Auto in Comstock Park.
“Early on the ice, I always carried a rope with me and I pulled people out and saved their lives,” said co-owner Randy Brenner.
Brenner has been fishing since he was 4 years old.
While they had been slow all winter, everything changed.
“There have been quite a few people coming out the last couple days,” Brenner said.
All the excitement has everyone, from retailers to law enforcement, hoping everyone stays safe this season.
“If they don’t feel safe, don’t go out there,” Brenner said.
“Use common sense when you go out on the ice, please,” said the sergeant. Note.
The Michigan DNR has a complete list of snowboard safety tips, including:
- Your safety is your responsibility! There is no “inch thickness” that can be relied upon to determine if the ice is safe.
- You can test the thickness and quality of the ice using a potato, needle bar, or punch.
- Stronger ice: clear with a bluish tint.
- Weak ice: Ice consisting of melted and frozen snow. It appears milky.
- Stay away from ice with slush on top. Melting ice is only half as strong as pure ice, and indicates that the ice is not freezing to the bottom.
- A sudden cold front with low temperatures can cause cracks within half a day.
- A warm spell can take several days to weaken the ice, causing the ice to melt during the day and freeze again at night.
- Ice weakens with age.
- If there is ice on the lake but there is water around the shore, be very careful.
- The stronger the current on the lake, the more likely the ice will flow into open water.
- Avoid icy areas with protruding debris such as logs or brush.
- Watch for bubblers or de-icers in the pavement because ice near these mechanisms will be unsafe. Always check for ice and be aware of your surroundings.
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