Thursday, 27 November 2014

A Report on Ice Conditions from Wayne

I know everyone is always anxious to hear about the ice conditions as it freezes in the fall and of course, when it melts in the spring. It seems like freeze-over happened fast this year. I was able to get a good report on the ice from the expert himself, Wayne Clark (my Dad). This is from November 26, 2014 when he and Chris were out minnow trapping. We hope you enjoy the pictures. For those that are curious, this blog entry will give you a good idea of what minnow trapping looks like in the wintertime.

Chris is ready to get to their first lake!
It looks like we are finally in for a good winter of quality ice and winter activities. If everything stays on track, we will have very good ice, which we have not seen in a couple of years. Having the cold weather and little snow has given us a great start with an average of 5 – 6 inches of blue ice on area lakes. We have already done some ice fishing and are in the process of putting out minnow traps. Chris and I normally get started around the first of December, however this year we are getting a full weeks’ head start.

One minnow trap set - look at that nice thick blue ice!
Having said that, as usual, with early ice there is a need to use extreme caution when navigating different lakes. To keep myself and Chris safe, we have one rule we never break and that is never venture out on to a new lake without one of us walking in the lead with a needle bar ice pick. Having worked on the ice for over 30 years, whether fur trapping or minnow fishing, from early ice to lake spring ice, you learn that an ice pick will keep you dry at the very least, and possibly even save your life!

Wayne's needle bar ice pick... life saver!
Checking the ice before venturing out.
Another good rule to live by is to never take anyone’s word on ice conditions, or assume that ice thickness is consistent over the entire lake. The ice thickness can be very inconsistent especially if you have spots of drifting snow, which insulates the ice and keeps it from freezing. The ice has to be checked with an ice pick wherever you go.

Some open water where there is current.
Checking the ice again before going out with the sleds.
On today’s trip we worked on different lakes and you can see in the pictures the current conditions along with the ice thickness. Today the lakes were anywhere from 5 inches of blue ice where there was snow cover, to 6 inches in places where there was little or no snow. When using the needle bar ice pick, it will penetrate 4 inches with one chop, so this enables you to quickly get an idea of ice thickness. Also the needle bar is the fastest way to chop through blue ice.

Chris cutting through the ice with a chain saw.
The hole to put the minnow trap down.
The minnow trap is set.
A couple of minnow traps set.
In the pictures, you will see how we place our minnow traps on a lake using anywhere from 6 to 20 traps depending on the size of the lake. With the cold weather and little snow in the forecast, we should have a foot of good ice very shortly. We would always advise that everyone stay off the ice until there is at least 10 inches of good ice as thickness varies depending on current and snow cover.  So to re-cap, good ice conditions ARE in the works and the fish ARE biting….. things are looking good for a fantastic winter of outdoor activities on and off the ice!

- Wayne Clark

I'd like to note that Dad didn't always know this much about ice conditions and he was not always this cautious. I've heard little bits and pieces of past stories. After working in the bush for many years minnow trapping and fur trapping, he has gained a lot of knowledge and respect for mother nature and learned a lot of lessons the hard way.  I hope to get some stories out of him soon and share some with you...

Stay tuned.


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