A veteran Lake Windermere ice fishing shack owner is warning others to stay off the ice after he nearly lost his shack last week.
Jim McGilvery put his shack out on the lake in early December, after two weeks of frigid temperatures in late November that resulted in the lake completely freezing over on Monday, November 29th, but he had to pull it off a week later when warmer temperatures began to thaw the ice.
“A lot of us who go ice fishing were tricked by the cold days we had (in November). The lake didn’t freeze quite as much as we thought,” said McGilvery, adding that in the fall he’d promised he wouldn’t try to put his shack out before December 15th at the earliest, but was tempted by the lure of being first on the ice at the start of the winter.
“I don’t know if it’s peer pressure or what that convinced me to put it out there. I thought it was safe, but clearly it wasn’t yet. I’m just thankful I got it off,” he said,
After the close shave, he’s waiting until after Christmas to put the shack back out.
“I wouldn’t even walk out there,” said McGilvery, speaking on Friday, December 12th when temperatures were still warm. “You’ve got to be careful out there. Mother Nature can be tricky and people need to be wary.”
Two corners of the shack had almost gone right through the ice before McGilvery managed to get it off the lake.
“I almost lost it,” he said.
McGilvery’s ice fishing shack is one of local repute, as it’s often festooned with LED lights, uses solar power and has a skating rink beside it. He is always welcoming friends and strangers alike to spend time in it.
“It’s fully contained. I can stay out there for four days at a stretch if I have enough food,” he said.
McGilvery’s ice fishing shack is well-known enough — and visitors to it plentiful enough — that other ice fishing shack owners refer to him as the mayor of Lake Windermere.
The shack and all its accoutrements weigh more than 1,200 pounds (55 kilograms) and when McGilvery put it out on the lake, he used his truck.
But with the ice melting, he didn’t dare take his truck out onto the ice to get his shack off, so he and a friend used nothing more than harnesses and rope to manually bring it back to shore — one pulling, the other pushing. It took seven and half hours for them to drag it to Kinsmen Beach.
Apparently several people were sitting in The Station Pub watching, and they placed a bet on whether or not the pair would make it to shore without going through the ice, McGilvery said.
“I’d like to see some of that $100 wager,” he joked.
A third friend gamely took his truck a little way on the lake to help the pair haul the shack the final 60 feet (20 metres) up onto dry land.
McGilvery says being fooled once like this by Mother Nature is enough, saying he’ll be back out later this winter when it’s safer.
He is, as usual, welcoming anybody to come out to the shack once it’s up, to fish or skate.