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Despite the recent flashes of cold, local ice thicknesses can vary greatly and extreme caution should be used.
By Toby Lapinski  |  January 29, 2019
Nick Kanaras jigged up a pile of panfish over the weekend while fishing on 5 to 6 inches of ice. He did note that some spots had open water and/or thin ice around the edges.

Ice fishermen in Southern New England have been lamenting the roller-coaster ride which has been our 2018-2019 winter weather pattern so far. In order to get that ice fishing fix, we have been forced to drive north and west to find safe, fishable ice. Last week’s cold snap finally extended the band of safety a bit south, but the mid-week warm-up and rains put a hurting on the ice.

This is a good time to remind ice anglers that there is no 100% safe ice (see some basic guidelines below.) Ice thickness from lake to lake and even spot to spot on a given lake can vary greatly from such factors as water current, underwater springs, wind, rain, snow and so-on. Initially ice thickness in the very least should be tested every few feet with the use of a spud bar, and then periodically throughout an outing to monitor changing conditions..

Unfortunately, some anglers (and winter enthusiasts) didn’t put enough concern into the ice conditions, figuring it had been cold enough to make things safe. Well, on Saturday night the following news item was posted on Patch.com.


OLD LYME, CT — One person was rescued and another person died Saturday afternoon after they fell through the ice while ice skating at Rogers Lake, WTNH News 8 reports.

Emergency personnel responded to the lake at 3:15 p.m. after two adult men fell through the ice, News 8 reports.

One person was found and taken to a hospital and is in stable condition, Fox 61 reports. The second person died, according to reports.

There was a large emergency personnel response including Connecticut State Police and the LifeStar helicopter, WFSB 3 TV reports.

The general rule is that a minimum of 3 inches of clear, black ice is required for the average adult to safely walk on ice, while a minimum of 4 inches is recommended for ice fishing. 5 inches can generally support a snowmobile or ATV, and 8 – 12 inches is required for a small automobile.

Keep in mind that these are basic guidelines and not hard-and-fast rules as ice thickness can vary greatly due to a wide variety of reasons. The best advice is to assume that all ice is unsafe, and ice thickness should be checked as one navigates around a lake or pond with all safety equipment readily accessible.

For a look at some great ice fishing safety tips, check out the article by Kierran Broatch, Ice Awareness: Tips For A Safe Hardwater Experience, and remember that no fish is worth losing your life over, ever.

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