It’s a big deal here in Flyover Country. The first ice on the lakes and ponds is a date to note each year. We keep accurate records of when each body of water freezes over. Here it varies from sometime in late November to early December.
First ice is not the fake freezes that start in early November and put maybe a quarter inch of ice on some ponds. “First Ice” is the real thing, the ice that will stay and still be around in March and April.
We are talking about walking ice here my friends; it’s the kind of ice you can trust with your very life. It’s the kind of ice that tells you its real honest to goodness winter now, and there is no turning back. All fall and summer activities are over and we are giving in to things like ice fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling.
Well it’s here. People are putting what we call permanent fish houses on the lakes. These little homes away from home will remain in place all winter.
Several days ago I spent a bit of time on the first ice on an area lake. I took an ice chisel along and checked the ice thickness and solidness on my way out to a place where I wanted to fish. The ice has been a bit tenuous this season since we had some heavy snow on the ice which tends to insulate it and keep it from freezing rapidly and solidly.
The good news is that I did get a meal of fresh fish, and now the lakes seem to be icing over pretty well.
Some years the ice comes quickly and is clear and strong with little snow on it. Other years like this year, the snow and more moderate temperatures prolong the building of strong ice. Usually the big cold fronts attack us before Christmas and by the Holidays folks are driving cars on over twelve inches of ice. We’ll see how it plays out this year. Yes, here in Flyover Country we are much intrigued by watching ice freeze.