Driving on Thin Ice: When Fishing is Worse than Totaling Your Car

This isn't one of the vehicles from Lake Geneva, but it shows why a flooded engine is a problem for the vehicle and the lake's ecosystem.

I wasn’t there, but one of my mother’s really good friends went on an ice fishing trip on Lake Geneva. The ice fishing went off without a hitch, but there was a group of vehicles parked some ways off from the primary ice fishing area. At some point late in the day, the ice gave way and many, though not all of the vehicles, ended up plummeting into the lake. It’s tempting, when you know the ice is thickly frozen, to take your vehicle out there. There will be others with just such a cavalier attitude, and maybe 9 times out of 10, everything is fine. But that one time where there’s a thinning spot that cracks at just the wrong place and time, and you’ll end up with something like the photo above.

Now, there are a few lessons to be learned here.


1) Pretty much never take your vehicle out on a lake if you can at all avoid it. Endure the mild inconvenience of having to haul your gear a few more feet. Try to use an ice fishing hut rental, or one that’s portable and can be moved without the aid of a motorized vehicle.


2) Always closely read and follow all the signage. Look to stick to designated ice fishing areas where the ice is tested regularly and strict weight guidelines are enforced. Recognize that what’s safe in a designated area may not be safe elsewhere on the lake.


3) Know that if your vehicle does go into a lake, chances are the cost will be more than just totaling your car. The people with cars in Lake Geneva ended up paying $1,000 tow and recovery fee each, in addition to having the car totaled.


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