Would you walk out on this frozen lake already?

A lone ice fisherman tries his luck on Cazenovia Lake in Central New York.

A lone ice fisherman tries his luck on Cazenovia Lake in Central New York.

Driving through Madison County on Thursday, I couldn’t help but sneak glances to my left after I turned east from Route 92 onto Route 20 in Cazenovia.

With this deep freeze we’ve shuddered through of late, would the lake be frozen over already?

Yes. Yes, it was.

So on my way back toward Syracuse, I pulled off into the parking lot that flanks the south end of Cazenovia Lake to take a shot or two.

Lo and behold, out there about a football field away, stood one lonely ice fisherman.

I know from decades of driving past this popular and pretty little lake — according to the New York State DEC site, it cover 1,164 acres, with a length of 3.9 miles and a maximum depth of 45 feet — that once February sets in, the fishermen even set up fishing shanties. The DEC site says that the lake is a good ice fishing spot for black crappie and bluegills.

But Jan. 9 seems kind of early.

I suppose some people actually measure the ice thickness here at the south shore of Cazenovia Lake.

I suppose some people actually measure the ice thickness here at the south shore of Cazenovia Lake.

How thick does the ice have to be to be considered safe to walk out on and fish, anyway?

Said NYSDEC site tells me three to four inches.

I was not ready to measure the thickness at shore anyway, anyhow.

So you must trust me that in the photo above, that black spot toward the middle is indeed an ice fisherman.

You wouldn’t catch me walking out there to get a closer shot.

Have you ever gone ice fishing? If so, how long do you usually wait in the winter? Do you measure the ice or just have faith?

32 thoughts on “Would you walk out on this frozen lake already?

  1. Thanks for this great post, Mark. When I was in my early 20’s, my then boyfriend convinced me to walk across the Charles River, separating Boston and Cambridge. He was a science-y type and very smart, and he had lots of reasons and guidelines about making it perfectly safe, including staying away from the posts of the bridge. He was right (that is, I’m still alive to write this and we didn’t fall through the ice), but I still can’t believe that I did that. Eeeeek!


  2. A friend of mine on Syracuse’s west side once rode in a car over the ice on that lake. I was shocked and thought I’d never do something that dumb. Then, many years later, in Alaska, I did what so many did at that time in Fairbanks. I drove over an ice bridge on the Chena River. A day later, Dave and I saw a truck get stuck in the frozen ice-covered river. A woman walked out of the truck with her child while her husband remained behind waiting for the tow truck. Yeah! What was I thinking?


      • I haven’t seen the show, but I think I would be uneasy about that with a heavy rig. The people at the hotel we stayed at joked that they took bets on who would be the first tourist to wind up in the lake. It was March and the sun was starting to unthaw the ice. The pick up truck driver was driving on a different section than we’d been on. The “ice bridge” we drove on saw a lot of traffic the day before.


  3. no, really, no. every year we end having so many people who have to be rescued for making the wrong choice on the ‘ice question.’ just doesn’t tempt me at all )


      • LOL..I spent so much time on “frozen” lakes and ponds as child…those occasional cracking sounds would send me “speed skating” for the shore!


      • I just recalled the time we were skating on the “pond” across from my grandparent’s house. It was actually more of swamp in the summer. My brother’s and a neighbor had set a barrel in the water in the fall so they could jump it while ice skating in the winter. Well, we were all skating out there one day, the boys jumping the barrel, when the neighbor kid jumped the barrel and went through the ice! It was so funny…The bottom of the swamp was just that..and he got stuck in muck at the bottom. Thanks Mark…recall is wonderful. 🙂 We all laughed so hard!


  4. I remember ice skating on Oneida Lake one New Year’s Eve, close to the shore … it was downright exhilarating. It’s the people who go out on snowmobiles who take the biggest risks, and put rescuers in harm’s way as well. We read about this every winter.


  5. I’ve not been ice fishing. But when we were kids dad used to take us to this little lake on our farm property. He would send the kids across first to see if it was safe. Dad’s reasoning was….if he went and fell in we couldn’t save him. But he could save us. I’d like to think all these years later that he had checked it out prior to taking us there! 🙂


  6. No, never, ever would you get me walking on the ice, never mind making a hole and fishing. Great pictures though. It does look very beautiful and quiet.
    Still no snow here – but loads of rain.


    • It is pretty. And pretty cold. Although it’s supposed to go over the freezing mark today, Rachel. I’m with you. I wouldn’t go out until I saw many, many other people not falling through. And I have kept a keen eye on your puddle pictures from London, my friend!


  7. Oh, that’s one of my anxieties that sits in rank with balloon rides. Yeah, I’m getting shivers thinking about writing this uncertainty I have about stepping out onto a frozen body of water. My preference would be a frozen five, six inches to be safe.

    I am sure the lake had a nice freeze from the temperatures earlier this week, but now CNY is warming up.


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