To ice fish or not to ice fish? That is the question for the Colfax City Council regarding the lakes at Quarry Springs Park.
The council discussed the topic during a workshop session Jan. 2 at city hall. Quarry Springs Park board members Doug Garrett and Kyle Ament were on hand to provide information about ice fishing at the lakes and answer any questions for the council.
“There are a lot of people that see this as an opportunity, so they don’t have to travel 30 miles to go ice fishing,” Ament said.
Prior to the workshop, city staff researched the city’s insurance policy on the subject. Since switching companies, they found the new insurance policy regarding ice fishing has changed.
“Our current insurance company looks at it differently than our previous insurance company,” mayor David Mast said. “It said that (Iowa Communities Assuarnce Pools didn’t have a problem with ice fishing, it is basically up to the council on what we want to do.”
Mast said the only thing the insurance company requires is signage at the site. The signs would need to read, in part, that the city is not inspecting the ice, not measuring the ice and not giving any guarantees about the ice.
Although the liability is not there for the city, the council still had several concerns about the safety of ice fishing on lakes that have springs running throughout.
“My fear is it is fed by underground springs that pop up everywhere. There may be one bleeding today and then another bleeds tomorrow,” councilman Curtis Small said. “That ice could be perfectly safe today but two days from today when it bubbles up it could be as thin as a piece of paper and you wouldn’t know it.”
Public works director Bob Rhone echoed those concerns and said the Colfax Fire Department would not be equipped for an ice rescue, either with equipment or training.
“It’s the springs that would be my biggest concerns out there because they are all over and they pop up and they change and they move. It is just different than a lot of lakes,” Rhone said. “For us, if somebody goes through the ice or if somebody drowns, we’re going to be involved in it. I spent a lot of time fishing down there. I have been waiting for it to turn into a park ... but it is a dangerous piece of water like any other piece of water.”
Ament did not deny the risk but countered there is a risk any time people are near water. Whether boating, swimming, fishing or taking part in any other water activity, risk is always a factor.
“Most anglers take their time, go out in pairs, they take safety equipment just like in a boat. From my point of view, it is a concern, but most anglers you hear from in the community that have asked us before, they do it right and get that risk down,” Ament said.
Councilwoman Karla Jones asked if there are other lakes in the state that allow ice fishing and have the same pits that are spring fed, similar to Quarry Springs.
“These are all basically large holes where we are connecting to groundwater, that all, in some way or another, you can call it spring fed, there may be some gas pockets moving through the water,” Ament said. “There are some areas that have a little thicker ice than others. If they have common sense they are going to do their homework and go through their safety protocol before they go out there.”
The council decided further research is needed on the specific type of water movement Quarry Springs has and also requested to see the signage that would be put up, if ice fishing is approved. The topic will go before the council at a future meeting.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or email@example.com