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  • Writer's pictureBrian Lansing

ice, ice...maybe?

ice, ice… maybe?

Aside from a cheesy reference to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”, I’m talking about ice fishing, lack thereof actually. Ice fishing season is upon us, or should, but there’s a problem. Oneida Lake has no ice. Swans, geese, and ducks have returned to the lake, dotting the horizon where ice shanties should be. There is more open water now than there was during hunting season. I’ve even considered launching the rowboat and kayaks. However, there appears to be hope for ice on the horizon.

No ice fishing yet on Oneida Lake.  It is all open water, but that should change soon.
No ice fishing yet. All open water on Oneida Lake, but that should change shoon.

While November was slightly below average, in regards to temperature, December and January have been on the mild side. There is safe ice to be found in the Adirondacks, but Oneida Lake and Central New York lakes are struggling to make and keep ice. Warm temperatures with rain and high winds have kept Oneida from locking up solid, aside from a few days in December. It’s been an easy winter for the snow shovels thus far, but for those of us who enjoy and embrace winter outdoor activity, including yours truly, it has not been great.

I’m going to take a moment and plug fly fishing on local streams here, because as the ice fishing and winter has been non-existent, fly fishing has been pretty darn good. Trips remain available on local streams for catch and release fly fishing. Winter fly fishing means solitude. Nymphing for wild trout on a stream to yourself is normal. While it can be chilly, proper layering, quality boots and waders, handwarmers, hot streamside coffee and a bit of sunshine is downright comfortable and enjoyable.

Changes to the weather appear to be coming. It is overcast and 42 as I write this post, but snow, gusty winds and a temperature drop are predicted in the next 24 hours. Thursday night’s low is single digits, followed by more of the same Friday. These temperatures are certainly capable of making ice on the lake quickly, but wind on Oneida Lake could pose a challenge to the ice building process. There is potential for significant snowfall this weekend, followed by more single digit temperatures next week.

I welcome a bit of cold and snow. I’m eager to do some hiking and snowshoeing, but snow isn’t a good thing for building ice. Should Oneida Lake freeze Friday, it won’t have time to build thickness before being covered with snow. While snow is 32 degrees, it insulates the ice from the colder air above, not allowing the ice to build as quickly. Snow also covers cracks, holes, and gas pockets as well, making it important to bring a spud when venturing out on new ice. If you’re unsure of what a spud is, a spud bar is used to hit the ice in front of each step you take to test ice safety. I’m hoping for wind with the snow to keep the ice blown clear. Bare ice can gain thickness quickly. The quicker we can build thick ice, the better. Who doesn’t like fresh walleye and perch?

In any event, I’m hopeful it will shape up to be a good last weekend of January and good month of February providing the cold weather predicted sticks around for a few weeks. I take ice safety very seriously and I am conservative as far as how much ice and the quality of ice beneath my feet when venturing onto the lake. I like ice and lots of it.

The hardwater season on Oneida Lake is, hopefully, about to begin. I’ll see you on the ice and please don’t hesitate to get in touch for ice conditions and guided trip information.

“Yo, VIP, let’s kick it! Ice, Ice, baby” – Vanilla Ice


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