By Jerry Purviance
It is quickly approaching that time of year that some anglers love more than any other time in the season. Hard water isn’t far away. For you not in the know, you can just call it ice fishing.
Now living in southeast Iowa is always a gamble anymore. Are we going to get ice? MMM maybe. How soon can we get it? There is no calendar date that anyone can say with certainty, “Oh we will be out in our clam shacks by this day for sure,” “Well if we do get decent ice, how long will it last?”
If we get into a good freeze-thaw cycle, we can get cruddy ice conditions that can last till spring. Yes, every start to the ice season for the last 15 years is pretty much a coin toss around the area. One year it’s great the next it was so short it was barely worth getting the tip-ups and the power auger down from the garage rafters.
When it does come on, folks get excited and you can’t blame them. Now I was never for sure if it’s the solitude and serenity of the quiet inside the portable ice shanty or the camaraderie of a couple of friends enjoying the slower, relaxed pace that Ice fishing tends to offer. Whatever the reasons, folks really enjoy the winter sport. As always here is a little word of warning for those that get a little antsy and just need to be the first ones on social media with their picture of a 5” bluegill and their MarCum lx 9 sitting next to a hole that the ice looks barely two inches thick.
So SAFETY FIRST, our friends at the Iowa sportsman pass along these words of advice, and I agree. As any ice angler knows, safety on the ice is paramount. Early ice anglers are always asking about safe ice, where and how thick. Truth is, there is no “safe ice.”
Strike the ice firmly with a spud bar twice in the same location, and if the integrity of the ice remains solid, you’re safe to step to that location. Also never go alone, wear a PFD, and take a length of sturdy rope that can be used to help pull your fishing partner to safety. Let someone know where you are fishing and when you are expected to return. It’s always better to error on the side of caution than not.
Not all ice is the same. In Iowa, we have probably more farm ponds then you could shake a 27-inch St. Croix Avid Ice Rod with highly sensitive precision-tapered solid-carbon blank, also with carbon handle And Lightweight guides that fight fatigue at. Just because you see a picture posted of an angler on good ice on a small pond don’t assume there is good ice on larger lakes. That being said, Have a good season, enjoy and only 77 days till spring.
Catch Jerry’s Outdoors Show on Friday mornings at 10 a.m. on KWPC and FM 95.1.