An update on ice conditions

Over the past few days when I looked at my social media pages, I couldn’t help but notice all the fish pictures that my friends have been taking on the ice-all across Sunset Country and in neighbouring areas.
While I haven’t been fishing on the ice yet, I’m going to start getting out over the holidays.
Even though I haven’t been fishing, I spent a few days last week moose hunting up around Red Lake, and my friends and I travelled across several lakes to get to some of the areas that we hunted.
The ice was pretty good on the lakes that we used, with six-12 inches of good ice in places we checked.
Of course, we found bad ice around some of the small creeks that had flowing water and there was significant slush on most of the smaller lakes, which definitely can cause problems if you’re looking to go ice-fishing.
It seemed that the south sides of the lakes were worse, where the strong north wind had piled up the snow during a few of the big storms that we’ve had.
When it comes to going out on the ice at this time of year, you can never be to safe. So until we get through this next cold snap, it’s probably a good idea to stick to the smaller lakes.
The good news is it looks like we have a good cold snap coming around Christmas, which will tighten things up on the bigger lakes and the deeper trout lakes–just in time for the lake trout opener on Jan. 1.
The bad news is it looks like we’re going to be hovering around minus-20 C or even colder as the daytime high for the next couple of weeks. Winter in Canada, right?
If we don’t get any major snow over the next couple of weeks (and the forecast isn’t calling for it), then a lot of the slush out there should tighten up and the ice will build quickly, making truck travel possible in January.
Ice safety guidelines can be found online and offer a conservative approach that we all should follow when we venture out on the ice. It is recommended that we stay off the ice until there is at least four inches.
Between four and six inches, ice-fishing and other activities on foot are good to go. It is recommended there should be more than six inches of ice for snowmobiles and ATVs, and 12 inches for vehicles.
It also should be noted that white ice is only about half as strong as solid, clear ice. At this time of year, most of the ice is clear while the white, clumpy ice is more prevalent later in the season as things start to melt.
When the ice roads start to show up and you do drive on the ice, try not to park too close to other vehicles, especially early in the season on ice that has not been plowed. The ice slowly can start to sink and over a few hours, issues can arise.
One way to know if the ice is sinking is to drill a hole near your vehicle. If a lot of water is coming through onto the ice, you probably should consider moving your vehicle or leaving the area because it is causing the ice to sink.
We have a lot of great Canadian activities that we can partake in out on the ice-from snowmobiling to skating and skiing to ice-fishing. Just use the better-safe-than-sorry routine and don’t take chances. If you don’t feel safe out there, then don’t go.
Happy holidays, everyone!

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