Ice Rescue Ladder
Spud bar spud bar spudbarspudbar...
If you fall thru at late - honeycombed - ice you may find that picks will only help you pull yourself up onto ice that still won't support your weight. On more than one occasion I used my spud bar to spread my weight as I got out on crappy honeycomb that I had no business being on - even if the water was only armpit deep.Keel on the bar...
I also pull my gear on a longer rope than most. I also usually travel with both a "gear sled" and a flip top with minimal gear inside that...ya know how when you start to pull your sled you have to give it a jerk to get it going?...That long rope has kept my gear from joining me in the water and that slight friction (sleds/ice) has given me a slight "anchor' to pull against.
I can remember all the major times I've gone thru - especially in deeper water or when I've had to wade a good distance...in the past I've had folks argue with me for suggesting that any risk is acceptable but heck - it's icefishing. Risk is inherent.
Those times I've fallen thru or walked on bad ice have taught me a lot about ice conditions - lessons I'd never had if I only walked out once the ice was 4" or more and quit once we've had the first good warm-up of late winter. Now that I chose to take less risk than I did when I was younger that knowledge keeps me dry now.
I may still sometimes be the first or last out in every season but that's on foot. Vehicles are different and I would never EVER be the first or last out there during any season. The risk is too great.
I feel for the families, and the time of year makes it even harder to bear, I'm sure.
We always say we will stay safe, and I carry picks, even on 2ft of ice, and I wear a striker floating suit, but what about the guy that doesn't have those with him, and needs help to get out? I think I'm getting a rope tonight to add to my gear for the whole season. You made me think about it too much. Thank you.