The good and bad of ice and snow
By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise
Snow accumulation has been the talk of the town over the past week, at least for those who have taken a break from shoveling.
Ice anglers are been keeping a close watch on the conditions since the ice isn’t as thick as desired preceding a major snowfall.
It would be interesting to calculate how much the snow sitting on the ice weighs right now, but there are numerous variables that affect the weight of snow, such as space (air) and how saturated it is. A person could simply collect a cubic foot of snow, weigh it and have a pretty close idea, though snow depth varies across the lake due to drifting.
With several inches of ice and even more snow on every body of water, ice anglers are already frowning, though they really shouldn’t.
Sure, flooding is something to watch for, whether the water is creeping onto the floor-boards of your fish house or causing your snowmobile or ATV to stop moving on the way to your favorite fishing spot. Grab a shovel, scoop out the slush-soup and keep going.
In reality the stop and go of hung-up transportation shouldn’t be much of an issue yet. We’re all envisioning the difficultly accessing lakes, drilling holes or even walking short distances as the anomaly of last winter remains fresh as the new snow in our minds.
Keep in mind that the snow is not all bad. Snowmobiles and ATV’s operate much better on a decent base versus the super-slick ice surface we had a week ago. Have you ever hit the throttle on a snowmobile (without aggressive studs) on ice, sans snow or ever had a four-wheeler drift sideways going into a stop or turn?
Ice cleats aren’t mandatory with a sheet of snow either. Last weekend our group of 4 anglers had three separate falls onto the skating rink-esque ice. Now traction will be much better on the bottom of your boots, even without cleats.
Snow is additionally advantageous because it conceals the angler standing atop the ice. When anglers can see to the bottom of the lake through the ice, the fish can also see those shadows lurking above.
Yet hauling a fish-house out onto the lakes will require additional exertion from either man, woman, child or machine.
Larger, heavier shelters will have the hardest time, simply because most ice isn’t strong enough for trucks to drive upon. Anglers still need to use extreme caution even though the lakes appear safe because of all of the snow. It might remind you of January when the ice is a few feet thick, but remember, it’s still early December. Portable shelters are much easier.
Thankfully air temperatures are forecasted to dip through the weekend with wind chills predicted to enter double-digits below zero.
Though we might complain about the arctic air, it’s arriving at a good time for the lakes, which translates into the ability to enjoy them through angling, spearing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Besides, we’d be disappointed without a white Christmas.