Ice is never safe, but I hear so many warnings that I think it scares people
from ice fishing.
Let's use some common sense here, folks. We all know that 4 inches is good
for walking, but many factors can affect the thickness of ice just yards apart.
Ice seldom freezes at a uniform rate, so it's important, especially early in
the year, to constantly check ice depths with an ice spud or drill.
Another rule: new ice is always much stronger than old ice. Old ice has had sunlight, precipitation, freezing
and refreezing, and snowfall -- all of which cause the ice to deteriorate.
Other factors can contribute to changing ice conditions. Ice adjacent to
melted shorelines will be weaker than ice farther offshore later in the season.
Clear ice is better that mottled or gray/white ice with air pockets. Schools of
fish, especially carp and other roughfish, can thrash around and weaken the
ice. And always watch out for and avoid cracks and pressure heaves.
Snow or freezing rain isn't necessarily bad once you've developed 8- to 12
inches of ice because it protects ice from the sun. If it's less than 6- to 8
inches, however, lots of snow can become an insulation blanket that impedes
solid ice formation.
Always avoid areas with changing water levels or areas with current, such as
creek mouths or narrows.
Also, even late in the season, when multiple feet of ice can
exist, it's a bad idea to park vehicles near each other. All that weight creates a bend factor and weakens the ice. Stay 20- to 30
yards away from other vehicles and avoid parking too close to fish houses, too.
Just remember, ice is never safe -- even in the cold of midwinter, many factors
can alter ice thickness.
For a fine assortment of Ice Fishing gear, click here.
One of the most popular ice-angling seminar speakers in the country, Minnesota-based "Tackle" Terry Tuma was catching big fish through hard water before it was "cool." From border country walleyes to farm pond panfish, Tuma explains his ice formula for catching winter fish. For more fishing tips from "Tackle" Terry Tuma, visit the Outdoor News
website at www.outdoornews.com or
Upper Midwest residents can listen to Tuma every Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m.
CST on the FAN Radio Network.