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Early Season Ice Fishing, Safety First Gary Howey

  It’s November when in a normal year with cold weather when people those die hard ice anglers are looking for a place to ice fish.

  Not this year, as the weather we’ve in early November was so unseasonably warm, we haven’t had to field many questions about ice fishing.

  With the warm weather, not too many folks are thinking about ice fishing as it may be awhile before we get any good-safe ice in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

  Before the colder temperatures arrive and ice starts to form, it’s not a bad idea to refresh our memories when it comes to ice safety.

 It’s just common sense to be in a hurry to get out on ponds and smaller lakes or before heading out on any body of water to ice fish, as there is always a danger when it comes to ice.

  Ice color is one of the best ways to see if ice is strong enough to hold you.  Look for clear blue ice, which is the strongest because it’s created by a sustained freeze.

  Black, gray or honeycombed ice is the worst and unsafe because of repeated freezing and thawing. Discolored or dark spots are a good indicator of open water, thin ice, or possibly a spring, all of which are dangerous.

  If there’s snow on the ice, it acts as an insulator, not allowing solid ice formation and making it almost impossible to judge its thickness.

  Snow piling on the unfrozen ground does the same thing to the ice, not allowing the cold temperatures to get down and freeze the ground or the water.

  Sure, ice may look solid, especially along the shoreline where the snow has blown clear, when in fact there’re probably areas on the lake having very little ice because of the snow covering it.

  Anything on the ice, icehouses, fishing piers and bridges absorb the sun’s heat and increase melting.  Vegetation will also absorb heat from the sun, and rotting vegetation can create its own heat as can fish, muskrats, beaver and other animals swimming under the ice can weaken it.  This is especially true in shallow lakes and rivers.

  Any moving water weakens ice approximately 15% and wind creates pumping action forces water through the breaks and cracks enlarging them and making them bigger. Be especially careful if there is a windmill or other type of aerator on the pond as these have outlet pipes under the ice creating moving water, which will weaken the ice.

  If your crossing ice on foot and you’re not sure of the thickness of the ice, it’s safer to slide your feet instead of stepping, as this helps distribute your weight more evenly. [Read more…]

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Early Season Ice Fishing-Safety First By Gary Howey

It happens every year around this time of the year, when we have calls at the office asking about ice fishing and where they’re biting.

With the colder temperatures we’ve had so far this winter, there hasn’t been a lot of ice made and with the warmer weather coming, it’s going to be awhile before there’s good ice.

There may be some ice building on bodies of water not snow covered, but on those ponds and lakes with snow piled on them, it’s more than likely not happening or happening very slowly.

Snow that piles on the unfrozen ground does the same thing to the ice; it acts as an insulator, not allowing the cold temperatures to get down and freeze the ground or the water.

Sure the ice may look solid, especially along the shoreline where the snow has blown clear, when in fact there are probably areas on the lake that have very little ice because of the snow that covers it.

Before heading out on any body of water to ice fish, we need to be aware of the potential dangers of ice.

The color of the ice is a good indicator to its strength. Look for clear blue ice, which is the strongest because it’s created by a sustained freeze.

Black, gray or honeycombed ice is unsafe because of repeated freezing and thawing. Discolored or dark spots suggest open water, thin ice, or possibly a spring, all of which are dangerous. [Read more…]