Michigan Police Left Baffled After Unclaimed Ice Fishing Gear Found at Open Hole, No Missing Person Reported

by Jennifer Shea
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Jackson County, Michigan police were left puzzled after they responded to a call and found unclaimed ice fishing gear near a hole in a frozen lake last week. 

Authorities are trying to figure out if a person fell through the hole in Little Wolf Lake on Saturday, MLive reports.

Michigan Authorities Search for Missing Angler

Police Chief Duaine Pittman said a local had called the Napoleon Township Police about the odd scene at the lake.

By 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, the hole had partially refrozen. It seemed possible someone fell through the ice and then pulled themselves out and left, Pittman told MLive.

“It appears somebody may have gotten out,” he said. “The problem we’re having right now is we’ve got a bunch of recovered ice fishing gear and no one’s called to say, ‘Hey my gear was out on the ice, I fell through, I got out, I went home and went back to get it and it was gone.’”

Both the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team and the Napoleon Township Fire Department looked underneath the ice. But they didn’t find anyone.

“Visibility was terrible, but they checked the best they could,” Pittman said. “There’s obviously a possibility that someone could have went through and us not be able to find him with the divers, depending on currents.”

So police have been making the rounds door to door, asking residents if they saw anything or knew of any missing person to report. By Monday, no one had. 

Authorities ask that the person who left their gear at the lake call in and describe it to them. Anybody with information about the incident is also invited to call them at 517-536-4487. 

“Hopefully someone will come up with something and we’ll be able to track this guy down and get him his stuff back,” Pittman said.

Ice Fishing Has Its Own Set of Risks

Ice fishing can be a dangerous pastime. It’s important to always keep safety tips in mind while pursuing it. For example, remember that new ice is typically stronger than old ice. Sometimes as little as four inches of new ice will support one person’s weight, and as much as a foot of older ice will not.

Moreover, ice doesn’t freeze evenly. It can be a few inches deep in one spot and a foot deep somewhere else. And ice near the shore is often weaker than ice farther out.

Snow over ice can be problematic. That’s because the snow insulates the ice and slows down the freezing process. Plus, the weight of the snow means the ice can support less added weight on top of it.

Finally, ice that freezes overflowing currents is usually dangerous. It’s particularly hazardous near bridges, culverts and streams. When there are schools of fish under the surface of the ice, their movement carries warm water up to the surface from the bottom of the lake. That can cause holes to form in the ice.

Hopefully, the angler in Michigan didn’t fall into the hole in the ice there, and they will turn up to claim their gear before too long.

Outsider.com