Thin Ice: Why You Should Be Wary of Frozen Lakes and Ponds

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It’s that time of the year when ponds and lakes across Connecticut start to freeze up but our recent warm weather means that ice can be dangerous.

While some of our local ponds and lakes may look covered in ice…the ice thickness can be deceiving. And until our weather gets much colder, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is advising you to stay off.

"The rule is no safe ice,” says Mike Beauchene, Supervising Fisheries Biologist for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Until we get a prolonged cold snap with high temperatures below freezing and low temperatures in the single digits. It’s not safe to be on the ice.

"Even if you may see what appears to be a skim or a covering across a lake or pond the rule is statewide is that it's not thick enough to support people and you could fall through very easily,” says Beauchene. "Once that first layer of ice gets over and then we continue to have cold weather the ice thickness will build because highs in the 30s and 40s and lows in the 20 isn't going to build ice quickly."

According to DEEP, if the ice is less than 4” thick, stay off. 4” thick or more is generally safe for ice fishing or other activities on foot, and ice needs to be 5-7” thick for a snowmobile or ATV.

When we do eventually get colder weather, the DEEP recommends you call a local bait or tackle shop near the lake or pond you want to venture out on. They get ice reports from local fisherman. The DEEP does not routinely monitor ice thickness. But they are offering classes to teach you about ice fishing.

According to Beauchene, "ice fishing is an awesome way to get out and be socially distant with your connected family members."

And it’s the perfect activity for boy scout troop 199 in Fairfield.

"We've been looking for engaging activities for our scouts to do during the winter months,” says Dave Hinkle, Scoutmaster for Troop 199 in Fairfield. "And this was kind of a fitting activity."

The DEEP is offering free classes that consist of a virtual Zoom lesson followed by a mentored ice fishing trip when the weather cooperates.

"When we have the opportunity to actually be outdoors on the ice out at a nice freezing cold lake that's what I think gets everyone really excited,” says Hinkle.  “Because they're actually going to be able to use and touch the equipment and get to see it first hand."

For more information on how to take part in the ice fishing lessons offered by DEEP, just visit their website here.

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