Signs of the season: Bob houses are disappearing on NH lakes

Union Leader Correspondent
March 25. 2013 6:30PM

GILFORD - It looks like business as usual on Lake Winnipesaukee.

It's the last week of March, and ice-out is still at least two weeks away, said Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation.

Last year, ice-out was March 24, the earliest time in recorded history the winter ice cover had left the bays of the lake.

But Emerson, who flies over the lake regularly and has traditionally declared ice-out each year, said last year was unusual. Ice-out usually happens in mid-April.

"There's been no movement of the ice whatsoever; we're still a few weeks away," Emerson said Monday.

There has been another kind of movement on the ice of late, however, as bob house owners are moving their structures off the ice as the seasons change.

"I saw a large portion of the lake over the weekend and I might have seen one bob house," said Gilford Fire Chief Stephen Carrier.

State Fish and Game officials issued their annual warning to ice-fishing enthusiasts that bob houses, also known as ice shanties, must be removed from the ice no later than the end of the day on April 1, according to state law.

The warning was necessary, but for most, it may have been unneeded.

"Most ice fishermen know it's time to get off the ice at this time of year," said state Fish and Game Lt. Robert Bryant, who added that the warning is for those who aren't aware that the ice is growing unsafe.

In fact, though Fish and Game officers check the ice and its winter inhabitants regularly, the ice anglers probably know its condition better than anyone, Carrier said.

"I think they are more aware of the conditions than we are," he said.

Once off the ice, bob houses must not be left on public or private property without permission. That ensures that bob houses and their contents don't fall through the ice and become a hazard to boaters or get left behind on shore, said Sgt. Dave Eskeland of the N.H. Fish and Game Department's Law Enforcement Division.

Failure to remove a bobhouse from public waters, public property or private property by the deadline can result in a fine and a one-year loss of the owner's fishing license. If Fish and Game conservation officers cannot identify bob house owners, they have the authority to seize any bob house and its contents not removed by the deadline.

For more information, contact a local conservation officer or Fish and Game's Law Enforcement Division in Concord at 271-3127.

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