Friday, 17 January 2014

Ice; fishing safety, common sense rules and regulations

Happy family on Family Day
Ironic seeing people on the ice in winter,
whereas they drove in circles on the water all summer!
It's been a wonky season for those who depend upon snow and ice for winter income, not to mention those who enjoy winter activities. Some of my readers are shocked with the winter weather patterns! The ice is pretty unpredictable in many spots. Heaven forbid we have incidents, such another tragic loss of life. Everyone (OPP and OFSC) was warning us to stay off the ice in December. Now, in January, there are still danger spots. Ice Storm 2013 was a bad sign of Climate Change for all of us.

One of the joys of winter for many is ice fishing. That has been a bit wonky lately, what with Ice Storm 2013! Even our wetland hasn't been frozen, and it's only about 4' deep in spots. There are many cases of people going through weak ice, often near rivers where fast-flowing water precludes ice thick enough for people and machines.

The worst was a family on ATVs, in March, 2009. Traveling on a lake which, in the past, was safe in March. However, they were driving between two islands, where water moves faster, ice is weaker. Losing a precious woman/mother/leader, a mover and shaker in this region, was tragic.

ICE: accidents waiting to happen
Muskoka's Carolyn Bray, and her daughter, have gone through the ice on Lake Rosseau and drowned.
The gray ice is a bad sign of melting ice!
The snowmobile incidents (2012), Sledding at the speed of suicide, can be horrifying for families.
In 2013, OPP put out a press release:
Snow machines - 2013 Canadian incidents
Ontario Provincial Police: The OPP is also issuing a timely public warning that 16 people have died in snowmobile incidents so far this year (as of March 25, 2013) and seven of those deaths have occurred within the last three weeks. 
At the risk of preaching to the choir, I would hope that someone calls people to be sensible and careful and err on the side of caution. I hope that a good word would cause someone to remember that somebody out there loves you. This is what the OPP and OFSC tell us...

No Ice is Totally Safe: 

  • Check ice thickness and quality before riding onto any frozen water. 
    I love this photo: showing open water where the bubblers lie.
    Fishing huts nearby! 
  • Understand that ice conditions may vary from day to day, from hour to hour and from place to place. 
  • Never travel on ice alone, at night or while impaired. 
  • Avoiding slushy ice, untracked ice, or ice near moving water or dock bubblers. 
  • Watch out for obstacles like rocks, stumps, docks, ice roads and fishing huts. 
  • Wearing a buoyant snowmobile suit and carrying ice picks.

 In many parts of this continent, you must register your hut. This is true in cottage country in many locales, including Ontario. There are also rules and regulations around these huts.

The M.N.R. still requires registration of permanent ice huts in many Fisheries Management Zones, and registration numbers must be clearly displayed on the hut. Permanent ice huts must be removed on or before specified dates. It is an offense under the Public Lands Act to leave any ice hut out after ice break up. Anglers are encouraged to check the provincial fishing regulations summary guide for specific details.

... anglers must register new or previously unregistered ice fishing huts ... of Muskoka and Parry Sound. (The above article shows a sinking hut!)

I love this shot –showing the variety of huts!
Many use snow machines and/or ATVs
to get to a favourite fishing spot.
This one, between two islands,
might be dangerous in March.

First you build a fire, then you dig a hole!
Some were listing, melting in the ice!

Good exercise, hard work!


Christine said...

Thanks for pointing out the dangers of ice fishing.

Powell River Books said...

Never been ice fishing. Sounds too cold for me, but I guess some of the fishing "shacks" can be pretty fancy inside. - Margy

Hilary said...

Good advice and good reading. We have friends who will be coming up to visit, next weekend and they'll be bringing their hut and gear. Looking forward to it.