Iffy winter has made going on some Maritimes lakes and rivers a roll of the dice
ROTHESAY, N.B. -- A warning for anyone heading onto a lake or river in the Maritimes: In many places, the ice cover this season is not nearly as thick as in more traditional winters.
However, that’s not stopping some enthusiasts from venturing onto sometimes questionable ice on the Kennebecasis River.
There are dozens of ice-fishing shacks alongside the Renforth wharf, where fishermen say there is plenty of ice underneath them.
"We're doing pretty good this year," said one fisherman. "There's about 15 inches here."
But, for the second year in a row, some fishermen have ventured into the middle of the river, about a kilometer from shore, and are using vehicles to get out there.
"This year, for some reason, I'm not really comfortable with it," said Katherine McCarty. "We went out last year. We have a pop-up tent, and we don't mind going out with the bike and a pop-up tent, but we're not going out with the truck and the hut."
Dick Chiswell grew up along the river. He also wonders about how safe the ice is this winter.
"They must be boring holes," Chiswell said. "They must know how deep it is or how thick it is, but parked in that close proximity, I just don't know. I'm a little afraid, but so far, two winters they've been OK."
There are more people enjoying the Kennebecasis River during the winter than ever before, but people who know the river say there are places along the river system that are never completely safe, and should be avoided, or at least approached with an abundance of caution.
In a handful of locations along the river, conditions can change rapidly, as the tide changes and cracks the ice.
"Like those flashes, those pressure cracks, they can swallow you up in a hurry," said Rothesay resident Blair McKay. "And even when you know where they're at, they can throw a curve ball at you."
Earlier this month, a Quispamsis man was killed when his all-terrain vehicle hit a patch of open water -- a place where there had previously been ice.
The river gets crowded with people and vehicles, especially on weekends.
"Saturday there will be a lot of people out there -- a lot of people," said McKay.
All of them are outdoor enthusiasts, who are relying on ice that is not as thick as in winters past.