Hold off on big trucks - weird weather made for weird lake ice
Weird weather so far to start the ice season. Cold, wind, snow, wind, melt, snow, wind, cold, wind, melt, rain, snow, cold. Anticipating what is next might be a challenge! I think this was our family's first Christmas in the rain. Fortunately the rain didn't seem to negatively impact the ice or ice development. It did knock the snow down, and now, after freezing again, created a layer of crusty snow on the ice. Ice ranges as of mid-week were in the 9-12" range on most of the area lakes. There are still some areas with drifted snow that have as little as 6-7".
Through the entire New Year's holiday weekend it would still be prudent to travel by foot, wheelers, sleds, or smaller lightweight vehicles. Smaller permanent houses (skid or single axle) until at least the Wednesday, January 4th. There will always be a few (and there already have been) some that will head out earlier with half ton trucks and suburban type rigs pulling their houses. Because they may get away with it, doesn't mean that it is smart at this time. If others than think it is ok, more do it, and then more. That is how we can cause flooding and heaving problems in community fishing areas. It is always a good idea to error on the side of caution. It is also smart to make your decisions based on good evidence, and not the behavior of others. That goes for many things in life, not just ice fishing decisions. If you do fish community spots or higher population area on the ice, move away from the crowd and spread out for at least another week.
This first couple weeks of the ice season have been different for me this year as life has interfered with my fishing addiction. It is a good reminder for me about how selfish I can be when it comes to getting my fishing. The first week was grandbaby duty, and although I missed the really early ice, it was an easy miss and knowing this is special time. I hope to have many other 1st ice outings in the future. Missing this one was easily accepted. The next week I missed some opportunity due to late fishing rod orders......I blame other people's procrastination for causing me to miss a couple ice outings. This last week was travel, family, holiday out of town, and more travel. Enjoyable and a priority, but I would be lying if I didn't admit to being a little preoccupied about wanting, and looking forward to getting out on the ice.
The reports I have received from others fishing our area have been positive overall. The walleye and perch bite has been OK, with some very good days, some OK days, and some slow days. A lot seems to coincide with the ups and downs of the weather. The warm up days and right before the next cold front comes have been better, and the bite has slowed when we are in the middle of the cold front conditions. Reports indicate the evening bite during the last hour of light and the first half an hour or so of dark have been best. The sunfish and crappie bites have been very good, but like all fishing, there can be some slow days. Weed edges and weed pockets have been key for sunfish and a mix of crappies. Crappies are also off deep edges and over deeper soft bottom areas, many times suspended. I am hoping the 2017 part of the ice season has more opportunity for me than the December of 2016 did for me. Happy New Year!