ED GILBERT: Be careful while ice fishing now

By Ed Gilbert • Last Updated 9:46 am on Monday, January 13, 2014

Sure, we’ve had a lot of cold temperatures and ice has been forming on the lakes. However, caution is required.

Along with the cold we’ve also had a lot more snow than is usual this early in the season, and one needs to be aware that there could be some unseen soft places lurking below. Even on good ice it is a good idea to take a prod or walking stick along to test the steps ahead as one moves.

Another fact is that ice is usually somewhat thinner at or near the edge of the lake, so be careful there when getting on or off the ice. Also, the same is true around and near docks, so caution is needed there as well.

Now, some may scoff at this, but it is a good idea to fish with another fisher or two, because there is safety in numbers. When my fishing pal and I go on the ice, we take a sled along and one of us takes the lead while the other follows behind. And, if we’re somewhat unsure of the ice we even tie a rope between us. Now, some may think that could be dangerous as well, but again. there is safety in numbers.

Most ice fishers have also experienced ‘rubber ice’ at one time or another. My buddy Gary and I were fishing Hamlin Lake up by Ludington one day, and it had warmed up over a few days so the ice was somewhat thin and sort of rubbery to walk on.

You may ask, “Why in the world did you go out there at all?” Well, any true ice fisherman will tell you that you just do it, but in retrospect it is nuts to go out on such ice!

Fortunately for Gary and I, the northern pike were so hungry that day that they were almost jumping out of the fishing holes onto the ice! Well, we limited out and got off the lake soon after, but got a little wet when we broke through about 10 feet from shore. You will recall that I mentioned that hazard earlier.

Now, I mentioned pike but most fishers are out after some great pan fishing early on in the season. And the bluegill and specks are hungry right now, and very tasty as well!

Really, I haven’t said much herein that most ice fishers are not aware of already. I’m really trying to mention some items of safety as a reminder, and hoping that if you go ice fishing right now you’ll take caution. I lost a good friend a couple years ago through the ice up near Baldwin. Please be careful and don’t become a statistic.

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