YUP!! Been there done that once! I was coming back off the ice in Little Sturgeon a couple years ago in my Toyota Camry and cut the corner heading towards Carmody Park. Didn’t see or realize that there was thin ice and some open water and low and behold, my Camry and I were going down fast!!
I was able to open the door before the ice prevented me from doing so. I climbed out of my car just in time to realize I was under water. When I surfaced I kicked like hell and dug my bare hands into as much ice as I could muster the strength to do so (I didn’t even OWN a set of picks at this point). Somehow I got on top of the ice, not being very knowledgeable about going down in a broken ice scenario I immediately stood up to make a break for solid ice.
Guess what happened next!? Yup, splash back in the bay I goes, and once again I’m finding myself clawing ice and kicking my legs like there’s no tomorrow! Somehow by divine intervention I think I was able to belly up on the ice and since the shock wore off by then I was starting to get my wits about me and some of my military training (NAVY) cold water survival popped back in to my head. I remembered to spread my body weight out as much as possible and barrel rolled for about 20’ then slowly got on my knees, thank god I didn’t go back into the freezing cold water. I stood all the way up and same results. I started the quarter mile trek to some guys that were perch fishing and they offered wonderful assistance, (nice warm vehicle, blankets, and even a ride to Southern Door School where my wife teaches.
Long story short, I went out and bought an ICE ARMOR RISE float suit and all the safety equipment an ice angler should always have I.e. picks, whistle, rope, float suit, spud bar, and everything essential to WALK out on the ice. I will never drive a vehicle out on the ice ever again! If conditions suck I just don’t go. No perch, Walter, whitey, crappie, etc. is worth risking my life again! When you hear people say there’s two kinds of ice anglers, the ones that have done the INVOLUNTARY polar plunge and the ones that haven’t YET, I now understand where they were coming from!!
I hope my experience and story will save at least one life for whoever reads this! Tite-lines to all!!