"Peace of mind" on the ice

SUAMICO, Wis (WBAY) - A mild December created some tense moments on the Bay of Green Bay.

Several ice fisherman had to be rescued after winds caused the ice they were on to break free and begin drifting (see related stories here and here).

Ice fishing guide Zach Burgess knows how unpredictable the Bay of Green Bay can be.

"You can be standing on 7-8 inches of ice, which is perfectly safe to be standing on, but if that wind shifts and it blows that ice out you're going for an ice ride," says Burgess, who operates Why Knot Charters & Guide Service.

So Burgess decided to do something about it.

"Middle of April last year I started buying aluminum, and I hand-built my own air boat," says Burgess.

Today in Suamico, Burgess is using his air boat to guide clients near Long Tail.

"There's definitely a peace of mind. My group I got out fishing today, there's no way the lady would have went out today if it wasn't for the air boat," says Burgess.

While there's solid ice for shanties in some areas right now, the ice is only an inch thick in others, and the air boat can be a lifesaver.

"This morning I stopped a guy that was going to try walking out from here and I told him you're going to go right through if you try walking on it, it's not thick yet, and he didn't know," says Burgess, who is the first ice fishing guide on Green Bay to operate an air boat.

Burgess says once the weather stays consistently cold and the bay completely freezes over, he'll be able to leave his air boat at home.

But whenever the ice is questionable, he'll have it with him.

"I'm very glad I have one this year because I would still be sitting at home staring at a TV because I've got nothing else to do, where now with the air boat I can safely get my customers out," says Burgess.

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