Despite the cold weather ice fishing is alive and well at Mississquoi Bay.

From our new english editor
Rebecca Cavanagh-Nelson

In the winter, the bay area turns into a community unto itself, as fishing shanties sprout from the ice as early as late December with as many as 2,500 fishers visiting the bay each weekend.

With recent worries about pollution and fish consumption, a study was requested by the Mississquoi Bay Environmental Group. The study is still not complete but everyone is advised to use good judgment and caution.

Finally, here are some very important rules to keep in mind if you plan on venturing out to the ice :

  • Wait to walk on ice until it is a minimum of 2 inches thick. Many people wait until ice is 4 inches thick. Snowy ice is less sturdy than clear, hard ice.
  • Currents and weak ice are usually under lake bridges.
  • Carry a pair of ice picks tied together with strong cord and wear them around your neck. You can use the picks to hoist yourself up if you fall through the ice. Holding one in each hand, you can alternately punch them into the ice and pull yourself up and out. You can make these at home, using large nails, or you can purchase good ones at stores that sell fishing supplies.
  • Avoid alcohol at all costs. It weakens judgment and enhances hypothermia.
  • Leave your car or truck on shore.
  • Let people know when and where you are going out on the ice. Leave information about your plans with someone — where you intend to fish and when you expect to return.
  • When going out on the ice, probe ahead with an ice chisel. If the chisel goes through, gingerly turn around and retrace your steps off the ice.
  • Heated fishing shanties must have good ventilation to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Open a window or the door part way to allow in fresh air.
  • Wear a personal floatation device and don’t fish alone.
  • Avoid going onto the ice if it has melted away from the shore. This indicates melting is underway, and ice can shift position as wind direction changes.
  • Waves from open water can quickly break up large areas of ice. If you can see open water in the lake and the wind picks up, get off !
  • Carry a safety line that can be thrown to someone who has gone through the ice.
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