You’d think that with all the cold weather we had in February that we’d have good ice to drive on lakes until the 4th of July. I get excited about late season ice fishing, warm sunshine, fish go on feeding binges. I wasn’t able to get out on the ice that much this winter but I was out with the recent warmer temps. I just about had a heart attack when I saw the ice conditions at the ramp drive on. Talk about bad ice! It looked scary.
I’ve only witnessed one vehicle break through the ice at a ramp years ago. That ramp is loaded with springs and open water nearby making drivers nervous at season’s end. It looked sketchy when we drove out and a few hours later when we decided to leave there was a submerged full sized truck at the only ramp on the lake. The driver was sitting on the hood of the truck; a frantic looking woman was on shore, her cell phone in hand. I was in a smaller sized Toyota Tacoma and my son Josh was right behind in his full sized Ford F150.
I decided right away that I wasn’t going to stop. I punched it. There was no other option. When I drove out on the lake I noticed how bad the ice at the ramp was so I did a quick mental recon of the ice. There is only one launch on this lake so we had no other options. I thought I could get around the submerged truck far enough away but close to him and not bust through and still be far enough away from the open springs to not become a fish crib!
Josh expected me to stop and make a plan so needless to say he was getting more nervous as I kept going, accelerating all the way. His customized truck was bigger than mine, sporting big tires, a pair of sky roofs and all the fancy paint that made his classic F150 cool. The guy on the hood of truck looked up as we approached and I saw terror in his eyes as I was headed right at him, picking up speed. The woman on the phone froze as her chin dropped down enough to nearly swallow her phone. I’m sure they thought it was the end of the world as they knew it.
At the last minute I cut to the right to avoid his submerged truck, hit the brakes and turn back to avoid the open waster springs, hoping the ice was good. I made it and kept on driving! Looking back in my rear view mirror I saw Josh had made the same maneuver, following the old man’s lead. He was right on my tail. We had both came in hot and hit the ground running and just kept on going right passed the tow truck. We had fish to clean!
Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org