DNR on spring thaw: ‘No ice is safe ice’

Kent County

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan got its first taste of spring-like weather Thursday. As it warms, the slow thaw can create dangers for people on the ice.

All of the anglers in the Lower Peninsula have to remove any overnight ice fishing shanties by midnight Friday. Anyone can still decide to take day trips to ice fish, but the Michigan Department of Natural Resources stressed several safety tips (PDF).

“It (the ice) looks pretty thick. You can walk on it, but it really doesn’t take much (weight). It’s not safe to be on when the conditions are the way they are today,” DNR Conservation Officer Jim Nason said.

He used the ice at Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids to illustrate what to look for if you want to explore on the ice a little while longer. The spring sizzle could be seen in the puddles and breaks in the lake’s ice. There was also lots of slush.

“If there’s slush on the ice, you want to stay off the ice,” Nason explained. “That’s an indicator that the ice is no longer freezing from the underside.”

Nason said that slush also means the ice is half as strong as solid ice would be.

“No ice is considered to be safe ice, no matter how thick it is. You don’t know what’s going on underneath the ice with currents and streams,” he said.

Underwater activity can create some of the biggest problems.

24 Hour News 8 saw several visitors checking out the icy conditions at the beach at Holland on Thursday evening. Some people stepped onto the ice for quick photos.

“Everything that you would bring ice fishing, if you’re going to  walk out on the ice, you need to have it regardless of what activity you’re partaking in,” Nason said.

The DNR said bigger lakes, like Lake Michigan, are usually the most dangerous because of tides and currents.

For anglers, Nason recommends bringing an ice spud, life jacket and around-the-neck ice spikes.

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