Friday, January 4, 2008

Fishing Horror Stories - Ice fishing safety

I came across this post in one of my favorite fishing forums. I hope the original author (GraphixDude) doesn't mind me posting it here, but I thought it was a good reminder of ice fishing safety (of which I know nothing about - being from the tropics of Australia).

Ice fishing in Michigan.

Since I was a little kid, my uncle has taken me ice fishing every winter. Usually we go to remote lakes in the Allegan County area, and my uncle has a history of fearlessly fishing on thin ice either late or early in the season. This always made my mom nervous about letting me go with him.

I was about 12 or 13 years old, and we were fishing on a lake called "Hodge Lake"...a very deep lake with natural springs that feed it. There are spots in that lake where the ice is black in huge areas and it usually indicates thin ice.

There was a dusting of snow covering the whole lake and the ice was VERY smooth and slippery. The temperature was FREEZING cold with a very low wind chill. I was setting up tip ups in one section and my Uncle was setting some up in another area. For those that don't know these are devices made of 3 sticks - 2 that cross each other and one that goes verticle into the hole with the cross as a stand to hold it up. On the bottom is a spool of line and on the top is a little orange flag. You put a minnow on the hook hanging from the line, and when a fish bites, the little orange flag "tips" straight up so you know you have a fish. You usually catch big bass and northern pike on these.

After setting the tip ups, we got close to each other and started to fish with regular ice fishing rods....tearing the blue gills and perch up. Suddenly far on the other side of us one of the little flags popped and my uncle ran over to check it. About 35 yards from the flag (in a spot we hadn't yet walked) my uncle suddenly disappeared with a loud crack in the ice that vibrated the ice all the way where I was standing. Immediately my uncle surfaced and started to yell and claw for the edge of the ice. It kept breaking as he tried to pull himself up. I grabbed a long nylon rope from the sled we use to pull our stuff out and threw him the rope then walked backward to the edge of the lake to a tree....tied the rope then tried to get close to him. My uncle had the rope, but he was getting weak so I tried to get closer to him to help him. Just as my uncle was yelling at me to get back away CRACK - I went in too. Fortunately I had the rope in my hand still when I dropped into the cold water. I only fell in to about my armpits and relatively easily pulled myself back out.

Just like an Angel, all of a sudden this guy with a big ol beard appeared on the edge of the lake (to go fishing also) and saw the problem going on. He carefully made his way out on the ice a little ways and pulled my uncle out of the water with the rope.

Finally my uncle was out and we were all on the shore. I was wet and Freezing my butt off but unharmed....uncle was shaking like crazy and cold. The guy that helped us decided not to fish there on that lake needless to say. We had to leave our tip ups and the fish we had caught for fear of the ice breaking if we went out to collect them. We got in the truck after a million thanks to the guy that helped us out and drove the 10 miles from the lake to my Grandfathers house. There my uncle got his butt chewed out by my grandpa and my grandma made a big fuss over me. I will never forget the Chocolate chip cookies she made me that day!

I guess that is the most horrific thing that has ever happened to me while fishing though. I was pretty scared.

It took a lot of convincing for my mom to let me go fishin with Unc again, but over the years we have caught a ton of fish through the ice. Ice fishing is my favorite way to fish but you have to be very careful. Now we go every year to Saginaw Bay and catch walleyes a mile out on the ice.

I take no credit for this post


Fish Hunt & Explore said...

Just an amazing story/just goes to show how fast thinks can happen. Great site

Tom said...

Thanks for the comment - I am glad you enjoyed your time here.

You have a nice site BTW!