Families ice fishing near open water renews safety warnings

News source from CTV News

Manitoba officials are warning people about melting ice on lakes and rivers.

Saturday afternoon near the Lockport Dam, families were out on the ice trying to catch the end of ice fishing season.

Patchy ice revealed people just steps from cold, open water, with a current underneath.

Stuart Mckay noticed children on the ice near open water Friday and took photos.

“This is the worst I’ve seen it, because there is a lot of activity and the ice conditions are horrendous,” he said.

“All it takes is one of these kids to step on one of those bad places there gone. In the water that quick.”

Nader Harb, 15, learned his lesson after a close call two days ago when his foot went through the ice.

“Up to my ankle-ish. I didn’t take another step. I went back. My dad helped me and he said don’t go any farther,” said Harb.

“We ask that people stay away from open water and to use caution if they are on lakes and rivers this time of year. The ice thickness varies across Manit‎oba so it is essential to check the thickness of the ice prior to undertaking any activity,” said RCMP in an email to CTV News Saturday.

The Lifesaving Society of Manitoba recommends ice should be at least 10 centimeters thick for ice fishing in the middle of winter.

However, it’s different during shoulder seasons. After several freeze and thaw cycles already this year, the society doesn’t recommend people go on ice, which can have air pockets, varying depths and is unpredictable.

Friends Jacky Guo and Tiang Yang caught eight fish Saturday. With warmer weather, they said their excursion to the Lockport Dam would be the last of the season.

“We came here early this morning and it was minus 11, so when we came here the ice was very good,” said Guo.

Professional guide Donovan Pearase runs Blackwater Cats Outfitters. He said he’s still taking people out to a few places on Lake Winnipeg, but it’s not safe near the Lockport dam.

“The river system is a totally different animal. It’s been chopped by the amphibex preparing for spring flooding. There are signs posted, stay away, and that dam, it’s a very turbulent area,” said Pearase.

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