And where there’s ice, there are ice fishermen.
The winter is a great time for anglers to chase their favorite fish species. Water that could only be accessed by boat during the spring, summer and fall months can now be reached via a short walk over the frozen surface of your favorite fishing hole.
But ice can also be perilous, especially early in the season. Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources offers several worthwhile tips for ice fishermen:
• Never venture onto the ice alone or without telling your plans to a responsible adult.
• Always check the thickness of the ice with a spud before venturing out onto the ice.
• Carry a set of ice picks — basically a device with two handles, each with a nail or similar metal spike sticking out of one end, attached by a rope. This can be used to pull you out of the water should you go through the ice.
• Different parts of a lake will freeze solid more quickly than other spots.
• Underwater springs or currents can greatly affect the safety of the ice.
• Clear ice is the strongest. Ice formed by melted and refrozen snow appears milky, is very porous and weak.
• Ice covered by snow should be presumed unsafe.
• Four inches of ice will generally hold an average-size person on foot.
• Snowmobiles and off-road vehicles need at least 8 inches of ice.
Ice fishing is one of the true joys of winter for many outdoorsmen in Michigan. Just remember: No fish is worth risking your life. Be sure the ice is safe before heading out for a morning on the hard water.