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Unseasonal temperatures blamed for drop in ice fishing participation in southern N.B.
Ice fishing on the Kennebecasis River is getting fewer people this year after last winter’s freeze and thaw saw dozens of shacks get flooded and destroyed.
This winter's weather is proving to be better, but recent warm temperatures didn't bode well with fisherman Elmer Hebert.
"Lost my shack there about a week ago,” said Hebert. “I think it was the channel running through there. I was in a bad spot, started sinking down. But I got it out anyway, saved some of the stuff."
Hebert says he'll rebuild again next year, but many have given up on trusting Mother Nature.
There are only around 25 shacks out on the Kennebacasis River at Renforth Wharf, when there are typically about 140.
Fisherman Mike Nickerson says his shack flooded last year and had to be hacked out of the ice.
“We had to basically rip it apart by hand," he said.
Nickerson says although there’s six or seven inches of water on the ice, he doesn’t feel worried with his shack hoisted up.
"There's no question that you got to keep an eye on things or you could end up in the same mess as last year," said Nickerson.
The dwindling number of shacks could mean a better year for those who do venture on the ice.
"By this time last year we were already iced in and whatnot, and there's not as many shacks and there's not as much snow, so the weight isn't here on the ice that there was last year," said Nickerosn.
But no matter the number of shacks or the amount of snow, Saint John’s Emergency Management Organization is warning anyone heading out on the ice to use caution.
"The water, what might look like it's stable, you could pass right through,” said Kevin Clifford of Saint John EMO. “I know there's a photo about a week ago of a fishing shack having gone through the river so we are in an environment whereby our trusted winter, what might have been stable is not stable any longer."
The Renforth Fishing Association runs their season from Jan. 1 until mid-March.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ashley Blackford.