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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Tread smartly! Don’t put yourself on thin ice

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Tread smartly! Don’t put yourself on thin ice


I made my usual rounds last Thursday to some of the bodies of water in our area just to check on what ice might have formed during our recent cold snap.

Some appeared to be frozen over, while Black Pond was ringed with ice, but the center was still open water.

The next day — Friday — I took our nine-pound monster Charlie over to the Meriden Dog Park to get him some exercise. As most of you already know, the Meriden Dog Park is a thing of beauty located at Beaver Pond Park off of Hicks Avenue.

While there, I noticed a vehicle pull into the parking lot and a gent started to unload some ice fishing gear. I was sort of amazed because only a couple of days earlier, Beaver Pond had some open water on it.

The gent made his way out onto the ice and began to cut a hole in the ice with what appeared to be one of those new electric-power augers. It seemed like only a second before he had a hole drilled through the ice.

“Wow,” I thought. “That ice doesn’t seem to be that thick.”

The gent made another hole in the same rapid time and then made his way back to his vehicle.

I went over and asked him how thick the ice was.

“Three inches,” he replied.

Yes, I was concerned for his safety and, in fact, made it a point to go back to the area a couple of more times. He seemed to be all right regardless of the “Thin Ice” sign that was posted on the shore.

The next day, Beaver Pond was covered with water and melting ice. Then the rains came, and we all know what that can do to the ice.

Yes, I do keep harping on the dangers of going out on thin ice, but if this saves a life, then I am happy. Just this past week news came of a couple of drownings by people who took the chance.

Hello, “rocket scientists.”

One has to wonder what anyone is thinking when ice starts to form on a body of water and they throw rocks that weigh a pound or less on it to see “if the ice is safe.” Can anyone tell me how that small rock equates to a human body weighing over 100 pounds?

Over the years, I have seen some weird things done by ice fishermen who simply had to tempt fate just to get some time ice fishing. I once saw a couple of gents on Dog Pond up in the Goshen area wearing PFDs in case they went through ice they already knew was “iffy.”

Thankfully, here in Connecticut, we do not allow cars and trucks to venture out onto the ice like they do in some states.

My brother Paul, who resides in Vermont with his wife Pat Hennessey Roberts, told me about ice fishing one of the Vermont Lakes on the Canada border. He said that he had driven his truck on the ice one week and, when he returned the next week, a bunch of fishermen were standing on the shore looking out at a pickup truck that had broken through the ice.

Luckily the driver got out to safety.

Another time in New York state, a February fishing derby almost turned to tragedy when a well-meaning sport decided to use his brand new pickup truck to plow some of the snow off the ice to make the fishing easier. The truck went into the water and was completely submerged. The driver was pulled from the water by some of the fishermen.

New ice under fresh-fallen snow can also be dangerous because it does not allow you to look ahead for any spots that might seem dangerous to cross.

I can attest to this because of some personal experiences. The first was a number of years ago when a friend and I journeyed to Rogers Lake to do some ice fishing. I remember it was on a Monday, I was laid off from work, so we decided to try Rogers Lake.

I knew that some buddies had fished it on Sunday. We got a few inches of new snow Sunday night, so the ice had a fresh coating of snow all over when we arrived.

As we made our way out we encountered snow with a darker hue to it, so we opted to bypass it. When we got to where we wanted to fish, I started to chop a hole and the ice chisel went right through on a single blow.

Our angels were watching over us because we followed our same tracks we made to get there and got off the ice safely.

On top of that, we talked to one of the residents on the lake and he said that the dark snow covered areas that were open water the previous day.

I never forgot that lesson. Are you listening?

Another time, on Gardner Lake, three of us had fished on the northern part of the lake one weekend and had a heck of a time catching fish. The ice was about five inches thick. We decided to return to the same spot the next week. The weather had been cold enough, so we had no worries — until we got there.

The area that we had fished the week before was now open water! It was about the size of a large house, but it was completely open water.

To this day, I can only speculate what caused it, but I do think it might have been an underground spring in the lake.

There are so many unknowns that can have an effect on ice. An email I received from the Fishin’ Factory in Southington said it all: “Remember, ice is never 100% safe!”

The email contained an ice safety list. It stated:

■ 3 inches: single person on foot; ■4 inches: a group in single file.

It goes on to list safe ice for various vehicles, but I don’t want to put any ideas into someone’s head.

The list does say that this is for SOLID, CLEAR BLUE/BLACK POND AND LAKE ICE. I haven’t seen any ice like that around here in a couple of years.

Like they said, ice is never 100 percent safe. Enough said.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving our great country.