When is Ice Fishing Safe?
There is no sure answer. Ice is tricky, and just because a lake or stream is frozen doesn’t mean the ice is safe. To understand the factors involved in the strength of ice, it’s necessary to understand how ice forms on lakes and streams and a few of its physical properties. The following are points to consider, largely based on research.
You can’t tell the strength of ice just by its appearance, the temperature, thickness or whether the ice is covered with snow. Strength of ice is based upon all four factors plus the depth of water under the ice, the size of the water body, water chemistry, distribution of the ice, and local climatic factors.
Generally speaking, new ice is much stronger than old ice. Direct freezing of lake or stream water will be stronger. Several inches of new ice may be strong enough to support you, while a foot or more of old, “rotten” ice may not. A layer of snow slows down the ice forming process and decreases the bearing capacity of the ice.
If you hear ice “booming” or cracking on cold days or still evenings, it doesn’t necessarily mean the ice is dangerous, merely that it’s changing shape as the temperature changes.
Ice formed over flowing water, near shore, around inflowing or outflowing streams, in places where the lake narrows, under bridges or on lakes containing large numbers of springs can be unsafe.
River ice is generally about 15 percent weaker than ice on lakes. Straight, smooth flowing stretches are safer than river bends. River mouths are dangerous because the current undermines the ice and creates unsafe pockets. A potential danger spot on lakes is an open portion completely surrounded by ice. Winds will force exposed water beneath the ice and rot it from below. Ice near shore is weaker. The buckling action of the lake or stream over the winter breaks and re-freezes ice continually along the shore.
For those of us who venture onto the ice, whether on foot or in a vehicle, here are two tips to lessen your chance of breakthrough: (1) Ice fishing requires at least four inches of clear, solid ice. (2) Before you head onto ice, check with local experts, fire departments, wardens, local police or local bait shops for known thin ice areas or aeration operations which have created open water. Ice Fishing can be fun but please be careful.
Several Local Ice Fishing Locations in Northwest Indiana
Locations in LAPORTE COUNTY INDIANA:
• Fox Memorial Park — Ice fishing on Clear Lake, Fox Park Dr. & Truesdell, LaPorte, 219-326-9600. www.cityoflaporte.com
• Soldiers Memorial Park — Ice Fishing on Pine & Stone Lakes, 556 acres, Grangemouth Rd. & Waverly Rd., LaPorte, 219-326-9600 Continue Reading. . .
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