Freezing temps bring ice fishermen early this year

6:52 PM, Dec 16, 2013   |    comments
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NUNICA, Mich. (WZZM) -- The continuing streak of freezing temperatures in West Michigan is reeling in a unique group of fishermen early this season. 

Last December, ice fishing was almost non-existent in West Michigan, but WZZM 13 followed an ice fisherman, who's finding this year to be quite a catch.

At Bruce's Bayou, the open water is covered by a sheet of ice. Instead of boats, there's a trail of footprints that lead to John Overway. "If a fellow doesn't have a boat, you can fish on the ice."

Overway is one of several ice fisherman taking advantage of the freezing temps and making up for lost time, last year. "There was so much warmth, it kept freezing and thawing," says Overway.  "I didn't go on the ice before Christmas, I waited until I knew there was a good four inches. We got that now, so I'm comfortable with that."

Ice fishermen say that last December the ice wasn't even safe to walk on, but this year many of them are even comfortable enough to set up a shanty.

"Some shanties have sold out already statewide and even nationwide," says Cory Melvin, co-owner of Fish On Bait and Tackle.

At Fish On Bait and Tackle, items leftover from last year are finally selling. "A lot of the product we are selling now we already paid for in the past and it is almost pure profit," says Melvin. "Last year at this point we didn't even have ice, so we were selling nothing."

The store says it also gives people the chance to buy ice fishing Christmas Gifts. For now, Overway is more focused on a tasty pre- holiday treat. He was hoping to catch 10 fish by the end of the day. "That's a good one," Overway said as he caught his first fish.

Ice fishermen have several safety recommendations including, making sure the ice is at least three or four inches thick and spreading out from another, instead of gathering together in a small area. They also say some bigger bodies of water, like Muskegon Lake, may need longer to freeze before they are safe.

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