NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts ice fishermen are experiencing a shortage of ice this season.
Several fishermen were seen on the ice at Northampton’s Oxbow Marina Tuesday and the first thing they did when they got on the ice was check the depth to make sure it’s safe to stand on.
“It’s a good time to come out here with my friends, cook food, have a good time and hopefully catch some fish,” Joe of Springfield said.
While ice fishing is a fun outdoor activity, it needs to be enjoyed safely, with caution and preparation always on the mind.
“I would recommend walking a few feet out on the ice and drilling a hole just to be safe,” Joe told 22News.
Although there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice, 4 inches of new, clear ice is generally safe to venture out on foot. The fishermen we spoke with said they were measuring a solid six inches on the Marina Tuesday.
Of course, ice fishermen always hope for a cold winter season so the ice is thick, but so far it hasn’t been as cold as they would like here in western Massachusetts. Many fishermen are seeing less ice compared to this time last year.
“You don’t want to play any games when you’re coming out on the ice, it’s a life or death matter,” Mike Strong of Springfield said. “You don’t want to risk anything, you don’t want to go swimming this time of year. You never know what could happen.”
Ice fishing is one of the fastest-growing sports in the entire sportfishing industry. Fishermen say it’s not about what you catch, but the experience you have while out on the ice.
“You can just hang out and relax if you want to,” Shane Signor of Belchertown said. “You can have your friends come out. That’s the beauty of it. It’s what you choose to have that day.”
Signor said he hopes colder weather is in store as we head later into the winter months, that way the ice thickens up and it’s even safer to step foot on.