Ice Fishing and Hot Ponds

With ice and snow finally arriving across the state, outdoor winter recreation is now on the horizon.  As you get ready to hit the trail, the slopes, or the lakes, it is crucial to remember that there are dangers to many winter activities.  One of the most popular winter activities in Michigan is ice fishing, which has its own inherent risks.  The nature of the sport dictates that you spend hours in freezing temperatures, but that can easily be handled with proper clothing and preparation.  The more serious danger that one might encounter while ice fishing would be the potential of falling through weak ice or unknowingly venturing out into a section of open water. Learn more about what one group near Saginaw Bay has been doing to warn others of the dangers lurking on the ice.

A sign Chuck Groya is putting on display in bait shops and party stores, alerting ice fisherman and snowmobilers of the Consumers Energy hot ponds on the Saginaw Bay. Courtesy of MLive.


We recently received a letter from the Saginaw River Mouth Safety Group (SRMSG) alerting us to a potential danger when out on the ice.  There apparently have been an increasing number of rescues needed for ice fisherman out in the Saginaw Bay in the last few years.  Some of these rescue attempts have even come too late as there have been a couple deaths caused by weak ice and open water.  The SRMSG has informed us that there are areas in the Saginaw Bay known as the “hot ponds” which are patches of open water or exceptionally thin ice caused by warm water discharge from a nearby energy plant.  As the warm water leaves the facility and enters the bay, it impedes the formation of ice in certain areas, which leaves certain sections of the Bay unsafe for traversing during the winter. 

The SRMSG has been working to make this issue widely known in the Saginaw Bay area in an effort to increase public safety and save lives.  They have been in contact with local foundations and businesses to get signage alerting the public to the dangers of ice fishing on, or traversing over, the hot ponds area of the Saginaw Bay area.  So far, they have not been able to come up enough funds to place enough signage in the area. If you are interested in contributing to this effort, please contact the Chairperson Chuck Groya at 989-860-8329. And learn more by checking out this recent article from MLive.

So if you are going ice fishing this winter, whether or not it is in the Saginaw Bay area, be conscious of your surroundings.  If you are going in a new area, ask about the ice conditions and about if there are any areas that you should stay away from.  To be safe, stay away from areas where there might be warm water discharge.  Simple things, like being aware of your surroundings and being careful on the ice, especially if it is dark out, can prevent you from needing to be rescued.


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