Saturday, December 22, 2007



Ice gives ice fishermen two different options. One is to ask questions of bait-shops and local anglers before venturing out onto the ice.

Let’s face one important point, Any who spends time on the ice has probably seen some fall three. I’ve gone through three different times. That I sit here on the computer every night writing blogs means I survived. It also is a gut-wrenching event,

It almost means that a person should always be prepared for such an accident. Most people feel about good through to falling out of a tree,

People believe it only happens to other people, Anyone with some intelligence can see how such accidents and do happen. For many it means a bitterly cold bath but they survive the incidence.

Michigan’s weather is amazing. Last week’s cold temperatures made six inches of ice, and the this week anglers are being warned to stay off the half-frozen lakes and streams.

It’s well known that ice doesn’t freeze uniformly. Lakes that set down in a valley often freeze up first because cold weather settles, but those same lakes often are the first to get covered with water and slush during warmer weather, and then the ice becomes unsafe.

Large lakes are slow to freeze, especially those with deep water. Good examples of such waters are Crystal Lake near Beulah and Higgins Lake near Roscommon. Some of these lake may not go over (have safe ice) until mid-January, and then waters like Grand Traverse Bay at Traverse City may not freeze at all. If it does freeze early, it’s often goes out in mid-February, and thaw the thaw usually comes early. Be extremely cautious at all times.

As it stands right now, very few lakes in the northern counties have safe ice. A week ago, there was up to six inches on most lakes. Now, very few lakes have decent ice following the warm spell.

I passed by Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell at Cadillac today, and anglers were fishing Lake Mitchell 200 yards off shore but Lake Cadillac had only three shanties an no one was fishing.

What’s a person to do? First thing is to check with local bait shops to determine ice safety. The other thing people can do is stay off the ice until they are certain it is safe.

Me, I like at least four inches of ice. Six inches is even better, and I’m most comfortable with 10 to 12 inches. Some anglers have been going out on Saginaw Bay, but as prone as that ice mass is to breaking away from shore on a stout west wind, it pays be cautious.

A few smaller lakes near Traverse City are good for bluegills and sunfish, and Spider Lake has been great. Nearby Platte Lake has very poor ice conditions, and the ice is very unsafe. The same holds true for Long Lake.

Lake Missaukee at Lake City has been producing great bluegill and northern pike catches, and the same can be said for parts of Houghton Lake near Prudenville. However, the ice conditions on both lakes could change quickly from good to bad ice. Extreme caution is advised now after two days of spotty rain..

Some fishermen were fishing parts Saginaw River a week ago but Michigan’s state budget couldn’t tempt me to fish that waterway right now. It could be producing the biggest walleyes in the state, which is a distinct likelihood, but I’ll wait for much safer ice conditions.

Burt and Mullet lakes in Cheboygan County should be producing walleyes and some perch, but again, conditions are bad. In-flowing and out-flowing streams make safe ice problematic. Warming weather hastens a sudden ice melt, and ice can turn treacherous.

Anglers would be smart to hold off for another week or 10 days, depending on whether we get freezing temperatures and night, and allow everything to stiffen up again. A second freezing (after a melt) usually doesn’t produce great ice.

Risking one’s life on inland lakes and rivers is not worth the effort. The best catch of game fish in the world isn’t worth taking chance. The safest and wisest thing to do is to watch and wait for good ice to form
Local bait dealers know when the ice is safe and where the fish are biting. Keep track of conditions with a phone call or two, and don’t take chances. Going through the ice is a harrowing experience if you survive.

The worst case scenario—death by drowning or exposure—is the other possibility. Neither option appeals to me or other sane people.

Posted by Dave Richey on 12/22 at 07:48 PM
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