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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Muskegon Lake ice fishermen urged to beware of tug and barge

By Brian McVicar

The Muskegon Chronicle

January 23, 2010, 8:26AM

MUSKEGON — A 435-foot tug-and-barge combination that is scheduled to cut across Muskegon Lake Saturday evening doesn’t pose any immediate risk to the dozens of people who are expected to be on the lake for an ice-fishing competition, according to the competition’s organizers.

“It’s just common sense for anybody that’s on the ice to be aware that it’s coming in and to move when it comes in,” said Mike Schalk, who helped organize the 26th annual White Lake Perch Festival, which includes an ice fishing contest. “If you start hearing the ice crack, you know what you’d better do.”

A tugboat, Karen Andrie, and its companion, the barge Endeavour, will cut across Muskegon Lake at 6 p.m. Saturday on its way from the Muskegon Channel to the Mart Dock. Officials of the shipping company, Andrie Inc., have notified the Coast Guard and local bait shops of their pending arrival.

Schalk says most of the contestants will have wrapped up their day by 4 p.m., when they turn their fish over to the judges. Contestants, expected to number in the hundreds, will compete on lakes throughout Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana and Mason counties during the two-day event.

He also doesn’t expect the weekend’s weather — temperatures are expected to climb into the 40s, and rain is likely Sunday — to put anglers at risk.

“It takes a lengthy time of warm weather, rain and wind to start getting the ice down,” said Schalk, secretary and treasurer for the White River Steelheaders. “But we tell everybody: Use extreme caution.”

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