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Here's how Mainers can tell when pond ice is safe for fishing

Officials advise Mainers to avoid ice less than two inches thick and to bring safety gear.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Ice fishing is a pastime unique to outdoorsmen and women in the north.

But a peaceful trip can quickly go sideways if not enough care is taken before wandering onto the frozen water.

“This time of year, most ponds aren’t safe to be out on—the bigger ponds,” Maine Game Warden Cody Lounder said. “Basically, what I’m looking for: Is the middle of the pond open? Are the edges of the pond open? Smaller ponds, there’s a few inches that you can go out onto safely.”

Lounder said to look for melted areas on the ice and bring a chisel to check the thickness as you make your way out to drill holes. Wear an inflatable vest or standard life jacket.

Also, he said that any ice less than two inches thick is not safe to walk on.

If you see someone fall through the ice, Lounder said, you should call 911. If you can extend a ladder or rope out to the person, those can be good tools to bring them back to shore. But, try not to walk out to the person, or emergency crews might have to rescue two people instead of one.

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