Experts to anglers in Utah: Careful, you’re on thin ice

Posted at 9:52 PM, Jan 31, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- One of Utah’s most popular winter activities has been too dangerous to enjoy due to the unusually warm weather.

On Saturday, Utah kicked off the first of four ice fishing tournaments to be held this winter. However, it may be the only one in which fishermen and women can actually walk out onto the ice.

“It was good enough to fish on, but it’s definitely not the quality of ice that we would have hoped for,” said Chris Haramoto, who is the Park Manager for East Canyon State Park, where the event was held.

Many lakes, rivers and other bodies of water around the state have been unable to freeze over.

East Canyon State Park had to cut the competition short by two hours because the ice was melting so quickly and becoming unsafe. Ideally, the park prefers a thickness of one foot. Saturday’s ice was between six and eight inches. Anything less than six inches is considered dangerous.

“The ice was a little scary getting onto, we brought a plank to walk out on, without that we probably never would have made it back off the ice, at least without getting wet,” said fisherman Eli Gourdin.

Utah has three more of these competitions scheduled for state parks this February, but, as of now, it appears fishing in those events will be limited to boats and the shore.

At Bountiful Lake, Alonzo Ramirez drilled his auger in several different locations, all of them too unstable to stand on. His son was forced to fish off the pier.

“Yeah, we like to get out there because it’s good bonding time between me and my son--but this year all my fishing gear is collecting dust,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said he’s been checking the weather every day; he has more than $600 in ice fishing equipment he’d like to use.

“I can’t use my sled, my tent is at home, my heater is nothing, we just came out here to see if we could do it this year to say we got out on the ice, but it’s not happening I guess,” Ramirez said.

However, Ramirez also understands the risks of going onto the ice when it’s not thick enough. An ice fisherman died in Flaming Gorge earlier this year when he fell through the ice, and a 12-year-old boy died after falling through ice at a community pool in Magna.

“I can just tell by looking at it it’s really slushy and stuff and it’s not worth it, I was throwing rocks out there and some of them were going through it, so we are just doing some shore fishing now,” Ramirez said.