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Feb 26, 2016 5:17 PM

Soft ice puts NH law enforcement on alert for Meredith's Ice Fishing Derby this weekend

MEREDITH - The Great Meredith Ice Fishing Derby kicks off this weekend with first responders ready to step in if the thin ice causes accidents on the water.

"So we will have officers out there in larger numbers than we normally would," Fish and Game Major John Wimsatt, said.

Fish and Game officers fanning out to lakes and ponds ready to help any fishermen who fall through soft ice.

"It’s certainly an unusual year, we haven’t experienced these type of ice conditions in a long time but the big message this weekend is to use common sense,’’ Wimsatt said.

A 40-year veteran firefighter in Meredith is preparing for one of the busiest seasons ever for rescues.

"Unless you are on one of the smaller lakes where the ice has had a chance to form better; yeah, the big lake is not good,’’ firefighter Don Smith of Lake Winnipesaukee said.

Don’t forget your safety rope, ice picks, a flotation vest and a lightweight sled to easily bring your gear on and off the ice.

The howling gale brought wind chills well below zero and these hardy two went to Lake Waukewan about a half mile away from the big lake.

"This area is the only place that’s safe ice. The area we try to go to it’s usually open water so you can’t get to the ice so we had to come here,’’ Paul Gere of Lowell, Mass., said.

Yet we found soft spots even on this small lake with 12-inch thick ice: a leaning bob house ready to tip into open water and an open patch of water right near the shore.

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