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Thread: Ice fishing

  1. #1
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    Ice fishing

    I don't engage in ice fishing and have no plans to do so. But I do have a couple of questions about it, since our new drive to town in Maine goes by a lake where they ice fish. In Michigan there is a lot of ice fishing but it's colder there, and not so much sun in the winter, I am finding. Here in Maine it is five degrees now, but it was 38 yesterday and bright, and we are in the mountains, so there is a big shift in temperature during the day.

    Anyway, we drive by these lakes and there are out there with their shanties, but you can see the melting occurring. It is kind of terrifying. In Michigan there would be a certain day on Lake Michigan when "the ice went out", very dramatic, and it moved out--but this is an inland lake, and I know it will ice faster than Lake Michigan, for sure. But there are all these old guys out there (by which I mean older than me, by appearances) looking really hearty and I am thinking any one of them goes through that ice they have maybe 2 minutes and they are dead of hypothermia.

    So how do they know when it is safe, and how do they know when it is not safe? Because I am seeing a lot of ice with melting signs that I would not go near from my ice skating days. I would never have let my kids out on ice that looked like that, either.

    How do they know it is safe at any given time?

  2. #2
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Funny you ask. I just had my first ice fishing experience yesterday. My summer neighbors are "real" Vermonters and very outdoorsy. They came from their primary house on Friday to go ice fishing here this weekend. They took me out about 100 yards out on the lake on their snowmobile (fast but fun!) and then showed me their set-up. They don't use a shanty, but there were a couple of shanties around on the ice. The ice is about 6 inches deep where I was. My neighbor will go out and run the augur through and measure--and since they have about 15 tip-ups, they're essentially testing the depth in 15 places. They conceded that sometimes they are unsure of the integrity of the ice--they'll watch for pressure cracks, and they can tell the different between ice that's been wind-sheltered and ice that has not, and other little signs and signals about its safety. I think because they are so experienced they just "know"--but even they say there are times you don't REALLY know.
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    Oh wow, info from the field--how cool! Fifteen points of testing sounds good. That last part about not really knowing sounds not so good.
    Was it freezing??? I mean the air, not the ice.

  4. #4
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    It was in the high 20s all week pretty much.
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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Lake Erie has quite a substantial ice fishing business through the private marina operators. In order to survive, they test the ice regularly and then rent huts, and other equipment for hours or weekends. Their insurance rates are substantial so they are very careful. Individuals watch to see what the marinas are doing and then go out. There is also a history with water under the ice. It can turn ice into mush overnight under certain conditions. Smaller lakes may be different than the larger lakes.
    Good for you, Cath, for getting out to see what it is about.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    We have never had a thread on this forum about ice fishing. never! Wow, interesting!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    In Wisconsin as kids we would ice fish and use a tobaggon slide where you would go down and shoot out onto the lake. It was so fun.

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    I find the whole idea of ice fishing fascinating. The thought of being out on a frozen lake, drilling a hole in the ice and sitting there just terrifies me. I would not be able to relax...and I'm not fond of cold. But, I don't often hear of anyone dying on the lake....

  9. #9
    Senior Member Tradd's Avatar
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    I’ll be doing an ice diving class this winter.

    A few years ago there were a bunch of ice fishers that got caught on a big piece of ice that broke off and floated away on Lake Erie, if I remember correctly.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catherine View Post
    Funny you ask. I just had my first ice fishing experience yesterday. ...
    An important question to me would be, did anyone catch anything? There was a time when I did ice fishing and have fond memories of the fish fries afterwards.

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