Be careful on the ice

After a week of mild, sometimes rainy weather, area lakes and ponds are beginning to show some signs of wear.

On Thursday, emergency crews scrambled to Hermon Pond, where a motor vehicle was reported to have gone through the ice.

Unfortunately, I suspect that the Hermon incident won’t be the last as we make the transition from winter to spring.

And while ice anglers are required by law to remove their shacks from lakes and ponds, those who are doing the retrieving ought to realize that ice is beginning to degrade, and caution is advised.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has posted an ice-thickness safety guide on its website, but cautions that the chart applies only to new, clear ice. Ice that has begun to degrade may be white or mottled in color, and is much weaker.

2 inches or less: Stay off.

4 inches: May allow ice fishing or other activities on foot.

5 inches: Often allows for snowmobile or ATV travel.

8-12 inches: Supports most cars or small pickup trucks.

12-15 inches: Will likely hold a medium-sized truck.

The DIF&W adds another caution at the end of the list: “Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.”


John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.