UNDATED (WHTC) - The Arctic blast that brought nearly a foot of snow and bone-chilling temperatures to the Lakeshore has lured ice fishermen out onto area ponds and streams. However, in two separate incidents yesterday, it’s still not totally safe for setting up the shanties. According to Ottawa County Marine Unit Sergeant Cal Keuning, he and his colleagues were first called to a pond outside of a condo off of 92nd Avenue and Perry Street east of Zeeland, where an unnamed 78-year-old resident had chopped a hole into the ice before realizing that it was too thin to support him. As he was turning back, he broke through the ice and went chest deep into the water. Efforts to climb back onto the ice were hampered by the ice cracking off. He was able to eventually get to a dock, where a neighbor pulled him out of the pond.
A couple of hours later, an unnamed 61-year-old man fell into Millhouse Bayou east of Grand Haven, and a bystander used a long metal pole to pull him to safety. Both fishermen suffered minor injuries.
Sergeant Keuning says that ice fishermen need to know some basic safety tips before going onto the ice, such as recommended minimums of four inches of ice to support them and eight inches for a snowmobile. In addition, wear a floatation device, carry ice picks for self-rescue, err on the side of caution as to not go onto the ice if conditions are questionable, and leave a game plan behind in case you go missing for others to find you.
Predicted warmer weather next week may force ice fishermen and fisherwomen back to shore.