I always suggest when you travel on the lakes you should have a shovel, tow rope, and your cell phone. I always recommend having your warm weather gear along as well. It is easy to blow these things off when you can drive out to your fish house. It is easy traveling now on area lakes with the wind-polished and packed snow on the lakes, and this is the time when it is easy to slip up with good ice safety traveling practices.
As you can see by the number of ice houses out on area lakes, as well as the many portables, a significant growth in the sport of ice angling is taking place. All the new innovations in winter clothing, gear, equipment, augers, electronics, permanent houses, and portables, it is easier and more comfortable than ever to get into this activity or upgrade for comfort and ease. These innovations have grown the sport, and as the sport grows, more new and cool stuff makes its way into the ice fishing market.
The polar vortex that has kept us in this major cold front the last 10 days is finally moving on. The benefit has been the additional ice thickness added to area lakes. Most lakes range from 18-24 inches now, and ice is continuing to build. These thicknesses, along with manageable snow levels, make vehicle, sled, or wheeler travel available. You can get to almost any area you would like to travel to right now.
The huge benefit of this severe cold front right before the new year is the improvement to the ice conditions in our area. When we have multiple days below zero and excessive below zero overnight lows, we will make an inch or more of ice every 24 hours.
The electronics for ice fishing, particularly flashers, graphs, and GPS mapping have continued to improve, and thus improved anglers understanding of location and fish behavior. The modern flasher can not only identify depth, but based on the signal, help interpret bottom content and locate fish in the water column. The sensitivity of these units will not only signal fish, but you can see your lure in relation to the bottom and fish. Learning how to make adjustments to your unit will help you adapt to maximize your unit for varying situations.
This last week has been good for the ice development in our area. The consistent cold with some very cold nights helps build back some of the ice that was lost, or was slow to develop with our goofy weather for the few previous weeks.
The news of the week is about the upcoming changes in the regulations for northern pike. The regulations will stay the same for this winter season and all special regulations for specific lakes still apply. The changes will go into effect starting March 1. Of course, the season for pike closes on Feb. 25 and then will reopen on the May 12 "Opener."
Well, what can I say? We started out with our approach to the Thanksgiving holiday like it was going to be a regular/typical start to the ice season. Just when some anglers were getting in on some good early ice panfish and an okay early ice walleye bite, Mother Nature threw us another curve
I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. This holiday is always a great reminder to stop and reflect on all that we have to be grateful for in our lives. Most often it puts perspective on the priority of family, friends and time shared for me.
We will still be talking about ice this week. Even though we have had an early ice-over on the majority of area lakes, the ice is not safe yet. Most lakes still only have about 3 inches of ice, with inconsistent ice depths due to our inconsistent weather. Some shoreline access points also have very sketchy ice. The inconsistency and slow ice development is due to the lack of a sustained cold snap. We have been cold, followed by several days above freezing, and then cold again, followed again by warmer weather.