Alton Bay fishers urge safety after weekend tragedy

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Paul Dillon of Boscawen shared this image of a bob house sinking into Lake Winnipesaukee. (Courtesy photo)

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Rob Molino from Windham tends hot dogs on a grill on Alton Bay Sunday. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)


ALTON — Cautionary tales abounded here on a tragic weekend, when a 15-year-old boy died after he and his father fell through the ice near Rattlesnake Island and two snowmobilers died in a separate snowmobiling accident after plunging into Lake Winnipesaukee near Moultonborough.

On Alton Bay, where the ice was an estimated foot thick, many ice fishing parties reflected on the dangers of venturing onto the lake.

Tim Lambert of Boscawen said his friend plunged through the ice while they were walking side by side on an ice fishing excursion.

A pressure ridge weakened the ice, and a group of friends nearly ran into trouble while hauling their bob house.

"We had another friend of ours who was surveying, he was this close to me," Lambert said, gesturing about a foot away, "and he went right down almost to his waist. He had to go because he was soaked."

Lambert noted that he and "Teddy," their friend, were an arm's length apart.

"He was this close to me. One minute he was there, and the next minute I looked down, and I just grabbed him," Lambert said.

Tony Weddall of Boscawen, another member of the group, said, "The pressure ridge we hit, they said it opened up a week ago. If we had stopped to talk to anybody out here before we went out, they would have told us it was there."

Weddall said the weakness of that section of the ice stunned him.

"It's amazing to see how fast you can drop through the ice," he said.

Paul Dillon, another friend joining the group, explained in a message to The Laconia Daily Sun, "Our friend Teddy fell through the ice. Tim and I are lucky to be alive! In all actuality, my four-wheeler should have sunk and the bob house should have pushed us under."

Dillon wrote that he planned to give his fiancee and kids a big hug when he got home.

Lambert agreed they were lucky. "We came pretty close."

The bob house that broke through the ice only sank partway into the lake, and help was available.

"It's a lucky thing we had two other four wheelers. We just linked them all together, and then another guy down here on his Bobcat came over and helped out and got us all out of there," Lambert recalled.

Dillon said, "Don't be afraid to ask people for help. They'll help you."

After that incident, the group moved their bob house and equipment closer to the entry point, near a snowy roadway where trucks, four wheelers and snowmobiles drove back and forth.

Near another bob house, Rob Molino from Windham was cooking hotdogs in a grill on the ice Sunday.

He was part of a group that comes out every year with trucks and four-wheelers.

"We normally go out off of Governor's Island but it's not frozen," he said.

Asked of his advice, Molino said, "Stay away from open water. Check the ice before you go out on it. Be safe. Check your surroundings. You have to know how thick the ice is. Don't go close to the shore where open bubblers are."

Asked about the tragedy farther out in the bay, he said, "Rattlesnake Island, I know that's by the Broads which aren't locked up."

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Paul Dillon, Tim Lambert and other friends from the Boscawen area enjoy their ice fishing spot on Alton Bay Sunday. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)

 02-04 Lake Winnipesaukee ice

Pilot Bill Hemmel shared this photo of Lake Winnipesaukee, shot on Feb. 4, illustrating the open water and ice on the lake. (Courtesy Bill Hemmel/


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Fish and Game staffing issues compound search difficulties

By BEA LEWIS, for The Laconia Daily Sun

New Hampshire Fish & Game Col. Kevin Jordan said three fatalities on Lake Winnipesaukee this weekend taxed the resources of his department that now has seven vacant conservation officer positions.
With a current staff of 32 statewide, none of whom work the same day, Jordan envisions a nightmare scenario involving multiple major incidents and not having enough personnel to respond.
“We’re the only game in town,” Jordan said, explaining that his agency has sole jurisdiction and the specialized training needed to handle emergencies on the state’s waterways, mountains and back country. The department is also tasked with investigating snowmobile and ATV accidents.
“It was a very concerning weekend,” Jordan said, of the seven incidents of snowmobiles breaking through the ice on Lake Winnipesaukee and Lake Winnisquam that claimed three lives.
While he was quick to credit the members of the Alton, Gilford, Moultonborough, Tuftonboro and West Ossipee Fire Rescue Departments who aided conservation officers over the weekend, he wants the ability to fill his vacant positions.
Since 1989, the department has relied on a $1 fee collected for each boat, snow machine and ATV registered in New Hampshire that annually totals about $192,000 to fund its search and rescue operations.
From 2011-2015 search and rescue expenditures have eclipsed revenue by some $200,000. As a consequence of the financial shortfall, the department has been forced to sacrifice conservation officer positions, equipment, training and other safety related programs to cover the rising costs of rescues.
Col. Jordan was grateful for the assistance his agency received from area firefighters.
“These guys are a blessing. They have good common sense and knowledge of the lake,” Jordan said, of members of the Alton, Gilford, Moultonborough, Tuftonboro and West Ossipee Fire Departments.
While air boats need a skilled operator, as they are difficult to drive, Jordan said, the vessels provide the only safe platform when dealing with thin ice. West Ossipee trailered their air boat to the Lakes Region to aid in rescue and recovery efforts.
Also on Sunday, Meredith Fire-Rescue was called to respond to a Black Brook Road residence for a report of a 32-year-old man suffering from cold exposure after having fallen through the ice on Lake Winnisquam.
State police initially received a telephone call reporting that one snowmobiler had broken through the ice just east of Pot Island in Sanbornton shortly before 4 p.m. A second man riding with the victim on another snowmobile that became partially submerged was able to pull him out. The rescuer then told the wet man to take the remaining snowmobile and get to shore.
The victim went to a home at 210 Black Brook Road in Meredith, but declined to be taken to the hospital for treatment. He was too cold and exhausted to return to the ice to pick up his stranded friend, however.
New Hampshire Fish & Game personnel were able to retrieve the second man from the ice about 6 p.m., who reported via cell phone that heavy snowfall and high winds were creating white-out conditions and that he didn’t know which way to go to get to shore.
Saturday night, a snowmobiler sank his sled near the town docks in Meredith Bay. The docks are ringed in open water as bubblers have been installed to keep ice from forming and damaging the pilings. A recovery team that used air bags to raise the sunken machine, reported the incident to Meredith police on Sunday who in turn notified New Hampshire Fish & Game.
Earlier on Saturday, Meredith Fire Rescue was called to the ice of Meredith Bay to render aid to a man who had fallen and broken his leg while involved in horseplay with his brother.
Meredith Police Detective Corporal John Eichhorn said while traffic was plentiful as a result of the fishing derby “it was a peaceful weekend.”
Col. Jordan urged snowmobilers and anyone outdoors to be wary of ice conditions, which are variable due to a variety of factors including a water body’s size, temperature, depth, current and wind exposure which can affect ice formation. Snowfall that covered early ice acts as an insulator and prevents the ice from thickening.
If you break through the ice, don’t panic. Move or swim back to the place you broke through, lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. This will help lift you back onto the ice. Roll away from hole until you reach solid ice.

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Rainbow trout carries Maine man to derby grand prize

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Grand prize winner Tim Guinard of Alfred, Maine (right); second place winner Martin Hughes of New Hampton (second from left); and third place finisher Ryan Ashley of Gilmanton (left) pose with Derby Chairman Tim Bergquist Sunday at the 38th annual Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)


MEREDITH — Tim Guinard of Alfred, Maine, posted a photo on Facebook showing him holding his rainbow trout from opening day of the 38th annual Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. The caption reads, "My 4.33 lb Rainbow that won Saturday. Hope it holds up today!"
On Sunday, not only did it hold up, but it won him the grand prize of $15,000.
Guinard gave out a cry of joy when his name was announced Sunday afternoon. He and the other top award winners joined Gov. Chris Sununu and Derby Chairman Tim Bergquist on the walkway. The three grand prize winners were based on the seven finalists with the heaviest fish caught over the weekend.
"I started ice fishing to be with friends and have something fun to do with my son. Never thought it would be worth $15,000," Guinard wrote. "Thank you to Scott, Rich, Aaron, Chris, Mike, Ethan and Jason!!! What a weekend, we won the Super Bowl of ice fishing derbies!"

Guinard said, "I'd also like to thank The New Hampshire Fish and Game wardens. We usually seem them every year we do the derby and they are always very nice and do such an amazing job on an extremely busy weekend."

Duane Barton of Andover came through with the heaviest fish, a lake trout weighing 10.57 pounds caught on Saturday.

The results are as follows:
Grand prize winner, for $15,000, Tim Guinard of Alfred Mills, Maine (Saturday's top rainbow trout, 4.33 pounds).
Second prize winner, for $5,000, Martin Hughes of New Hampton (Sunday top white perch, 2.72 pounds).
Third place winner, for $3,000, Ryan Ashley of Gilmanton (Saturday top cusk, 6.47 pounds).

The $500 winners on Saturday included black crappie, 2.49 pounds — Bryan Couth, Moultonborough; cusk, 6.47 pounds, Ryan Ashley, Gilmanton; lake trout, 10.57 pounds — Duane Barton, Andover; pickerel, 5.23 pounds — Jessica Lievens, Belmont; rainbow trout, 4.33 pounds – Tim Guinard, Alfred, Maine; white perch, 2.67 pounds, James Symonds, Barnstead; yellow perch, 2.16 pounds — Tyler Dascoulias, Conway.

The $500 winners on Sunday included black crappie, 2.63 pounds — David Young of Boylston, Massachusetts; cusk, 5.88 pounds, Robert Haywood, Pittsburg; lake trout, 7.06 pounds — Lincoln Devaney, Newport; pickerel, 4.26 pounds — Tom Sharp, Deerfield, Massachusetts; rainbow trout, 3.85 pounds – Keith Laurencell, Deerfield, N.H.; white perch, 2.72 pounds, Martin Hughes, New Hampton; yellow perch, 1.59 pounds — Kevin Brown, Gilford.

The $100 drawing winners on Saturday included Winnipesaukee Area Brew Crew, Meredith; Robert Clark, Marlborough; Scott Delibac, Merrimack; Paul Gallagher III, Worcester, Massachusetts; William Conn, Rutland, Vermont; Stephen Ratte Sr., Raymond; Troy Baxter, Barrington; David McLaughlin, Hooksett; Stan Pascucci, Derry; Michelle Gray, Danville; Farren Mion, Glenville, New York; Myles Muin, Concord; Lorrie Wright, Hill; Daryll Issac, Portsmouth.

The $100 drawing winners on Sunday included Ken Young, Meredith; Tristan Smart, Moultonborough; Ben Nagy, Barrington; Ronald Allaire, Litchfield; Jon Stesienko, Lebanon, Maine; Paul Belville, Mirror Lake; Karl Lindroth, Hebron, Connecticut; Kevin Robbins, Franklin; Brian Allen, Meredith; Robert Queen III, Milford; Stephen Malagodi, Windham; Matthew Palmer, Millis, Massachusetts; Travis Jones, Northwood; Jim Schreib, Hudson; Tom Daniels Sr., Tilton; David Trudeau, Auburn; Tim McDermitt, Danvers, Massachusetts; Anthony Trevena, Lisbon; Joshua Druin, Loudon; Robert Grant, Henniker; Laurence Capiano, Melrose, Massachusetts; Monica Thiebault, Chester; Glen Clark, Goffstown; Chris Feddern, Brookfield; Kevin Perkins, Wolfeboro Falls; Scott Duquette, Fitchburg, Massachusetts; Zach Merchant, Clinton, New Jersey; Steven Reynolds, Derry; Christine Hartshory, Amherst; Kyle Cummings, Elkins; Kristopher Bean, New Hampton; Mike Baker, Arundel, Maine.

The $5,000 drawing winner on Saturday was Tyler Damon of Sandwich. The $5,000 winner on Sunday was Keith Lizotte of Rollinsford.

Bradley Roth of Alexandria won the raffle for a portable bob house donated by Northern Fabrication Solutions in Tamworth. The bob house is valued at approximately $3,400.


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Dan Lago of Warren, Connecticut, admires the fish board at the 38th annual Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Tim Guinard of Alfred, Maine, celebrates upon learning he won the $15,000 grand prize at the 38th annual Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Grand prize winner Tim Guinard of Alfred, Maine, left, and second place winner Martin Hughes of New Hampton, right, pose with Gov. Chris Sununu at the end of the 38th annual Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)

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