On thin ice: a word of warning

wwny On thin ice: a word of warning

WELLESLY ISLAND, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ice fishing is a staple of the north country. But, this year officials say it’s best to stay off the water.

"Ice this year has been abnormally thin due to the warm temperatures. We've seen an incerased number of people fall through, vehicles, and recreational vehicles as well," said

Senior Chief Peter Nelson, U.S. Coast Guard Station, Alexandria Bay.

They say there have been at least 10 instances this winter.

In Clayton, you can see and hear the thin ice moving and breaking.

The Clayton Chamber of Commerce had to cancel the annual ice fishing derby because there was no thick ice.

"Right now it's pretty thin, you've got to be real careful. I would not take an ATV or any vehicles out there. If you've been out there ice fishing, a lot of these guys out there ice fishing know what they're doing. If you don't, you might want to reconsider," said Mike Hooson, Clayton Chamber of Commerce.

The seasoned fishermen stay close to land and test the ice before walking on it.

"Normally when you come out on the ice, you bring a spud, this is a spud, and you just pound the ice like this, and you're good to go," said Jay Ferguson, ice fisherman.

Then, they drill to determine if the ice is deep enough to stay on.

"Now I can count; I got nine inches here, we're good to go," said Ferguson.

But accidents can happen to even the most experienced ice fishermen.

"As a matter of fact, today is my 32nd anniversary of me going through, Valentine's Day 1988. I went completely under. I don't actually remember much of it, I just know I dragged myself 150 yards to shore and I was actually found by this man, he was a fire chief at the time, and found me frozen on the side of a hill. You don't ever underestimate the St. Lawrence River," said Ferguson.

Or any body of water, for any on-ice activity.

"If we could encourage people not to go out, that's definitely the safest thing to do, but if you're going to go out, you need to be prepared," said Nelson.

Look at the ice conditions, don’t go out alone, wear a life vest, bring tools that can help you if you fall through like a tracking device, whistle, or ice picks.

Copyright 2020 WWNY. All rights reserved.