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February 19. 2012 7:36PM

Fitzwilliam fishermen, ATV plunge into Rindge lake

RINDGE – Two Fitzwilliam men were rescued quickly after their ATV went through the ice during the Annual Pelletier's Ice Fishing Derby on Contoocook Lake in Rindge early Sunday morning.

It was about 7 a.m., starting time for the fishing derby, when contestants Edwin Ridley, 47, and his passenger, Robert Plaszewski, 48, rode toward a spot on the lake Ridley had fished many times in the past.

“I grew up around water. I've been fishing that lake for 15 to 16 years, but the weather this year has just changed everything,” Ridley said. “Hit a spot where there wasn't much ice and went through. Didn't see.”

Ridley attributed the thin ice to a new channel in the lake. “Apparently it was a new channel that opened up this last summer.”

Ridley and Plaszewski went into the lake with the ATV, but were rescued quickly by other fishermen who ran over and pulled them out.

The incident caused state Fish and Game officials to issue an additional warning.

“New Hampshire Fish and Game Department officials are again warning that this winter's above-normal temperatures and high winds have affected ice formation, particularly on larger lakes. People are being strongly urged to use caution before venturing onto the ice. This reminder comes as an ATV fell through the ice of Contoocook Lake in Rindge early this morning. Jaffrey Fire and Rescue, Jaffrey Police Department, Rindge Fire and Rescue, and Rindge Police Department responded to a 911 call of two fishermen who had fallen through the ice while traveling on an ATV,” the warning said.

Rindge Fire Chief Rick Donovan said the men had been rescued before fire and police units arrived. He issued a warning to the other derby contestants, who continued fishing, to stay away from the area where the ATV went through.

Ridley said about a hundred other fisherman attended the derby, using ATVs, snowmobiles and bob houses on the ice. There were no full-size vehicles on the ice this year, just ATVs and snowmobiles, he said.

With the help of some friends Ridley was able to pull his ATV out of the lake, which took a few hours.

He missed his chance to compete in the fishing derby this year, but Ridley said the mild winter will not deter him from returning to the lake this winter for some more ice fishing. He said he will be more careful about where he travels on the lake, and had his own words of caution.

“Be really careful. It's already starting to open up around the edges,” Ridley said of the lake.


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