LAKE AREA – A frozen and snow covered Buckeye Lake was definitely scenic this week, but as of Wednesday no ice fisherman had ventured onto its surface. But, that’s a good thing, said Buckeye Lake State Park manager Tim Waln. “We never recommend that people go out,” he said. Waln said the park never gauges ice depth or offers information to fishermen, simply because management believes the ice is never completely safe. If someone were to venture onto the ice, “Be very careful,” said Waln. “Don’t go alone.”
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ web site reiterates that no ice is safe ice, but lists some recommendations for ice fishermen. For one person and gear (approx, 200 pounds) at least four inches of ice is critical. Always fish with a partner or in an area with several other anglers present. Let others know exactly where you are going and when you plan to return. Place a cell phone in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture in case you get wet. Sprinkle sand around your feet for better traction on the ice. Wear a life vest in case of an emergency or at least take along a PFD seat cushion. Avoid areas of feeder streams, springs, bridge pilings, docks, & dam structures since ice is usually very thin.
According to the website, if you fall into the water, try to remain as calm as possible. Slip your loose boots off to better tread water. Use ice awls to pull yourself out of the water. If no ice awls are available, call for help and try “swimming out;” let your body rise up to firm ice & crawl out. Stay flat, distributing your weight on the ice. Keep your clothes on once out of the water. This will keep you insulated. If someone else falls in, use “reach (stick or fishing pole),” “throw (rope or PFD),” “row (row or push a boat),” and “go (call for help).”