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Ice Fishing Creates Work for Rescuers

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Erie County Sheriff's helicopter pilot, Captain Kevin Caffery, is preparing for Ice Fishing season, but not because he wants to catch a good meal.

"We average about 22 rescues a year, sometimes we do more than that" Caffery said. "I know in one day alone we've pulled 19 people off of Sturgin Point."

Caffery said that experienced ice fishermen know their limits and typically can take care of themselves, but first time fishers can sometimes take unnecessary risks. "On Lake Erie we've seen them walk all the way across the lake. Probably on average they're out a couple of miles, but we've seen them out four or five miles, we've seen cars on the ice, motorcycles on the ice. You name it, we've seen it."

An east-blowing wind over Lake Erie can pose problems for ice fishermen. Winds in that direction open cracks in the ice rather quickly.

Despite the frigid temperatures over the past week, Lake Erie has still not frozen over. The National Weather Service predicts that with the weekend warm-up, The lake won't be completely frozen until at least the end of the month.

Caffery's hopes for this winter season are simple. "It's a very, very popular sport, and we certainly support the sport of ice fishing, however we want people to use common sense when they're out there."

BELOW: Pictures taken from the Sheriff's Chopper

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