Ice; It’s Always Changing

With warm weather things change quickly, as we have seen this year.

By mid-December there was a great freeze on most lakes, with little snow. Then the pineapple express brought warm weather and bad ice. But as the weather cooled, the winds came up, and the ice blew clear, so it is back to ideal conditions.

Little Atlin, for example, had up to six inches of overflow on the first kilometre of ice from the boat launch. Though the ice is thick enough to walk on, it makes for tough traveling. Snowshoes help, but snowmobilers be cautioned: the slush is like quick sand – when you sink into the slush there is little-to-no traction.

Most years there is a bit of overflow on most lakes, caused by the weight of the ice and snow. When the ice cracks, or someone drills a hole to fish, the water underneath is pushed up, causing overflow. This year I have noticed it to be particularly bad.

With large snowfalls and warm weather the ice hasn’t had time to freeze again. The snow on top acts like insulation and it takes colder temperatures, for longer periods, to cause freezing.

Little Fox Lake showed the same symptoms – with the heavy snow fall there has been a lot of overflow. I’ve heard from the fishing community that most lakes in the southern Yukon are similar. If you’re heading to such a lake, you need to prepare for this or you may end up with cold, wet feet.

Recently we went to Fox Lake and were met with an amazing surprise: the lake was completely frozen. There was no water on top, and it was mostly wind-blown. It was easy to walk on, and in some places I am sure skating would be possible.

It’s proof that in a short time, ice conditions can change. Mid-December was great, the beginning of January sucked, and it looks like we are going into spring on a great note.

A word of caution: always be aware of what is going on around you.

So with that, pack up your gear, call everyone you know, and teach a newcomer the joys of ice fishing. Some lakes can’t handle added pressure, so if someone won’t tell you their favourite spot, don’t be offended. It may have taken several trips or even several years to find my honey hole.

We will keep hitting new and old lakes until the ice forces us off. It looks like we have a few months to go.

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