Burlington – On Jan. 6, a tragic and fatal ice fishing accident occurred on a pond in Burlington, a town in Otsego County about 80 miles southeast of Syracuse in Upstate New York.
Two brothers were ice fishing on the newly frozen Basswood Pond that day, which, according to officials, only had about 1 inch of sketchy ice on it, which is anything but safe for ice fishing.
The incident occurred in the afternoon at about 2.45 p.m., killing one of the brothers and injuring the other.
According to the New York State DEC’s Press Release, a dog walker called 911 after seeing the two ice anglers fall through the ice.
Thankfully, a forest ranger was at the Jacobs Road trailhead one minute away from the pond. He rushed to the scene, seeing one of the men treading water, but couldn’t spot the other one.
The Ranger went on the ice, crawled toward the 42-year-old man, and used a throw bag to help him get out of the icy water.
The man was able to grab the rope, and the Ranger pulled him onto a sled.
At 2:55 p.m., only 10 minutes after the incident, the Ranger pulled the sled to shore, where members of the Edmeston Fire Department were waiting for them.
The men from the fire department used their truck to warm the man, who had started to suffer from hypothermia.
The Ranger then returned to the ice to search for the rescued man’s brother.
At 3:05 p.m., he managed to locate the 41-year-old from Richfield Springs in approximately seven to eight feet of water.
Thanks to a joint effort by the New York State Police, Otsego County Emergency Services, and Edmeston, Fly Creek, Schuyler Lake, and West Edmeston volunteer fire departments, the Ranger and the submerged man were helped out of the water and onto shore.
At 3:23 p.m., the second man was transferred to EMTs who began CPR.
Both brothers were then taken to the hospital. The first was treated and released. Tragically, the second brother was declared deceased by the hospital later that night.
This shows just how dangerous it can be to go fishing on thin ice. Please make sure always to check the ice thickness with your spud bar or auger, and never take any chances!
An ice fishing trip isn’t worth risking your life for!
I’d also like to thank the brave Forest Ranger, who, thanks to his swift and decisive action, prevented the death of a second human being and fellow ice angler. That deserves a tremendous amount of respect.
Furthermore, I would like to send my condolences to family, friends, and, most importantly, to the man who so unimaginably tragically lost his brother!
Ice Conditions Remain Sketchy on Many Lakes in NY
The winter season in New York and many other US states was off to a fairly warm start, and many waters didn’t have any ice at all at the end of the year.
Warmer temperatures persisted into early January and have only recently been replaced by colder weather.
It has been colder for a while now, and some lakes are finally getting good ice. On the other hand, recent storms and snowfall have made things difficult on many other waters.
And more storms and unstable weather are on the way, according to the latest weather forecasts!
With these unstable conditions, many NY ice anglers must exercise more patience and wait for more stable cold fronts and thicker ice.
Again, please avoid thin and sketchy ice at all costs! I know you’re anxious to get out there, but don’t take any unnecessary risks!
You might miss out on some ice fishing action, but you’ll be around to experience the coming open water season!
Check the Latest NY Ice Fishing Reports!
Lastly, I would like to mention a few essential ice safety tips that could save your or someone else’s life.
Make sure to use the available references online to get the latest ice and ice fishing reports for NY!
Here are a few informative and helpful Facebook groups you can consult:
- Ice Fishing New York
- New York Ice Junkiez
- Upstate NY Hardwater Ice Conditions and Fishing
- U.N.Y. Ice Fishing
You can also check out the New York State DEC’s Ice Fishing section.
Wishing you all a wonderful day and tight lines. Please stay safe out there!
Some Basic Ice Fishing Safety Tips
Lastly, I would like to mention a few essential ice safety tips that could save your or someone else’s life:
Tip #1: Always check ice thickness
The first and most important thing is always to check the thickness of the ice!
Generally speaking, you should stay off ice that’s less than 4 inches thick. PERIOD!
Personally, I prefer 6 inches, just in case, but 4 will generally do, though. However, you must check the ice on your way out constantly.
Especially, 4 inches of ice can quickly turn into 2 or 1 inch. And boom, you’re going through!
Ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice
|Ice fishing or other activities on foot
|5″ – 7″
|Snowmobile or small ATV
|7” – 8”
|9” – 10”
|Small car or SUV
|11” – 12”
|Medium SUV or small truck
|16” – 17”
|Heavy-duty truck with wheelhouse shelter
Tip #2: Trust your spud bar
A spud bar or ice chisel is probably your most important tool on the ice! It’ll help you check the thickness and compactness of the ice.
Personally, I wouldn’t head out without one. It’s really vital!
A spud bar allows you to test the ice quickly and frequently, saving you time and energy, as you won’t have to drill dozens of holes with your auger.
Tip #3: Always wear ice picks
Never go on the ice without wearing that good old trusted pair of ice picks around your neck!
If, God forbid, you should fall through, these things can end up saving your life!
Without them, you might never be able to pull yourself out of the water and onto the ice.
So please don’t take them off while ice fishing. That’s not the point of bringing them!
Tip #4: Don’t go ice fishing alone
This is a great safety tip for early ice that you might be uncertain about.
The buddy system can ensure that your friend or friends can help you in case of an emergency or that you can help your friend or friends!
Making your way back onto the ice alone can sometimes be an impossibility. Having someone around who could help you or quickly get help can make all the difference!
Besides, it’s always more fun to go fishing together with your buddies.