Greenbo ice not yet safe

By G. Sam Piatt - Contributing Columnist



Still no word yet on when or if Greenbo Lake will be stocked with rainbow trout this month.

If it happens, there will be no fishing for awhile anyway.

Early this past week, when the afternoon temperature rose to the mid-50s, the 181-acre lake was frozen over.

The tanker truck carrying the trout from the hatchery backs its rear wheels into the water at the boat-launching ramp and releases the trout from a chute directly into the water.

Now, however, workers would first have to cut a hole in the ice to release the fish.


Let me hasten to add that the ice is thick enough to prevent casting, but not thick enough to walk on.

Just thick enough to get someone drowned or perhaps to come close to dying from hypothermia.

Fisheries officials from both Ohio and Kentucky have issued warnings that the potential hazards of walking on frozen lakes, ponds, and rivers can be extremely dangerous.

They’re talking about lakes such as Turkey Creek and Roosevelt in Ohio and Greenbo in Kentucky.

“The cold, snow, and ice add an extra level of risk to outdoor recreation,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “No matter how thick it may appear, stepping out on frozen water can lead to tragedy. People need to remember, there is no such thing as 100-percent safe ice.”

Besides thickness, there are lots of factors that affect the strength of ice.

Those include:

* Thawing and refreezing can weaken ice.

* Pockets of air can form under the ice on lakes where the water levels are raised and lowered by flood control.

* The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process.

* Ice formed over flowing water and currents is the most dangerous.

Even the best swimmers may experience complete exhaustion and symptoms of hypothermia.


If you see someone fall through the ice, it is important not to go on the ice after them. Ice that breaks once will break again.

One solution is to carry a 25- foot length of rope and crawl on your belly as close as you can to the person holding on to the edge of ice around the breakthrough. Throw one end of the rope to the person. He grabs it, you back off and drag him out.

Ice should be at least four inches thick to be safe to walk on.

If you do try ice fishing alone, wear a life jacket beneath your coat.


I have been ice fishing only twice in my life and both times it was on Greenbo Lake.

During the decade of the 60s, when I worked at the Hooker Chemical plant just above South Shore, I made friends with a fellow employee, Wally Ainsley, who had transferred from a Hooker plant in northern Ohio.

I soon found out that Wally and I not only shared a love of bass fishing, but he was a veteran of ice fishing in those northern lakes.

So, one year in the mid-60s, when Greenbo was frozen from shore to shore, I found myself tentatively following Wally onto the ice. He pulled a sled with all our gear loaded on to it.

Every now and then he stopped to drive a spud bar into the ice to check for thickness, which was about four inches.

We made our way from the boat dock down to the mouth of Pruitt Hollow, the second cove on our left.

Wally put his depth sounder into use. About 100 feet out from shore there was an underwater ledge where the depth dropped abruptly from 20 feet to 40 feet.

Wally soon had two holes augured through the ice. We baited up with nightcrawlers and dropped them to the bottom, then raised the bait about two feet.

As a body of water freezes, the warmer water is found on the bottom.

And that’s where we found the fish. The limit on bass then was 10 with a minimum size limit of 12 inches.

Within about two hours we had 20 bass flopping around on the ice. A couple would go 16 or 17 inches.

It was the only time I ever caught a limit of largemouth bass from Greenbo.


The other time was 10 or 12 years ago when Greenbo again had a four-inch covering of ice. About 100 yards down from the boat dock, I chopped a hole in the ice. The water was eight feet deep. I soon had eight fat rainbows to take home for the skillet.

Word traveled fast and soon other fishermen were out there catching trout in this new-found sport.

Jim and Tami Coleman, who was pastor of South Shore First United Church, where I attend, had three young sons.

One day I took Jim and the boys out to Greenbo to get in on the action. We caught several nice trout. The boys really enjoyed themselves. They were from Georgia and this was the first snow they had seen.

There were seven or eight holes in that ice, which was bound to have weakened it.

For a while after that I had a recurring bad dream: What if those three little guys had fallen through?

But, thank the Lord, who for sure watched over us, today they are three handsome young men.


By G. Sam Piatt

Contributing Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619