Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Since my last post, I’ve been talking to a couple of the guys at work that go ice fishing, and they tell me the ice has been both thick and solid in recent days. A typical ice auger is sold with a three-foot bit. Dave tells me he’s seen some people using extensions to get through, so we can say the ice thickness is three feet or more.
Cam agreed with that, and had another comment that was informative. After he drills through the ice, he drills another shallow hole to use as a rod-holder, and he tells me those little holes usually fill slowly with water that filters through the tiny cracks and fissures in the ice. But this year, that hasn’t been happening, meaning that the ice is exceptionally solid and strong.
Both Cam and Dave said confidently that this will be a late spring. I’m inclined to agree, but I knew I should look at some of my archive pictures for perspective before I said so.
You can do this too. Look for the ARCHIVE OF PREVIOUS MONTHS AND YEARS tool in the sidebar of this web page*, then from the drop-down menu, choose March of 2017, 2016, or 2015. That will take you to the last post from that month, so usually March 30th or 31st of that year. Scroll down to find a post from March 13th or 14th to compare to this year’s first batch of photographs.
Note: I took no pictures in 2014 until April. That was a bad year. [shivers]
If you’re not up for that kind of research, here are some direct links to those posts:
March 14, 2015: It Begins
March 14, 2016: The River
March 14, 2017: Hard March
March 13, 2018: Lets Take a Look (most recent previous post)
To me, it looks as if the amount of open water this March is comparable to recent years, but there’s one significant difference: snow cover.
You can see from the photographs in my previous post that the lake is still covered in a good layer of pure white snow. In January, snow cover slows down ice formation by insulating the surface of the ice from frigid air temperatures.
In March, the situation is reversed: the snow is protecting the ice from sunshine and warm air that would melt it. Recent daytime temperatures above freezing (my personal definition of spring) have turned that blanket of powdery, air-filled snow to a more crunchy, crystalline layer that doesn’t insulate as well, but it’s still a big factor because it’s white and reflective, keeping the sunshine from the darker ice below.
This year’s snow cover is heavier than recent years. We need to lose that snow before we’ll see the ice melting steadily.
So, how did those previous years turn out? Here’s the graph. Each year gets a brick. The bricks get stacked in piles representing five-day calendar periods.
2017 went in late April, a little earlier than average. 2016 and 2015 went in the first days of May, which is most common. 2014 was a brute, not letting go until late May.
In summary, ice fishers who get up close and personal with the lake ice report an ample thickness of strong, clear ice, and believe it will take longer than usual to melt. From the air, things look about normal for this time of year, with perhaps more snow cover to slow things down.
I think it will depend on the weather. (No duh! Good thing your’re not paying me big bucks for this.) The current fourteen day forecast is for late March to have mostly below normal and below freezing temperatures, so umm…. cross your fingers.
*the layout is different on the mobile version – try scrolling way down