Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ice Conditions

Interesting encounter at work today:

I said, "Have you been ice fishing?"

"No, not safe."

"I heard there's seven inches on Hopatcong."

"It's this thick." He measured about an inch between fingers. "I'm not going out there."

"I haven't been out, either."

So who knows. The pond aside of Route 78 is open. I haven't seen the pond nearby tonight, but another up on the hill still has ice cover. Laurie is a reliable source. She has seven inches at the shop as of yesterday, but what exists elsewhere on the lake is not the same. And she didn't specify ice conditions, besides the typical melt along shorelines.

I've said it before. An entire book can be written on ice conditions.

Trying to sleep last night, which I never did well, an image--among too many--broke in on my mind. Ice reduced to melt slush.

Safe ice is hard and clear. What happens during a melt, when warmth gets down beneath the surface layer made kind of gritty, is striation. Ice sort of rots, with vertical linear streaks of separation between ice and liquid penetration. I fished on ice, March 11th, 2008, with my son, striated downward four inches, with five inches of hard ice beneath that weakness. Carefully. Because I didn't want us to step where the safe margin might be compromised.

After striation goes all the way through, ice can reduce to slush floating on water pretty quickly.

That said, plans remain in place to ice fish Tuesday and the following Saturday. Secure plans, no. But plans. The weather forecast didn't holdout as predicted last week, and ice fishing this coming Saturday seems too iffy. The forecast as it stands now doesn't look good for the Tuesday or the next Saturday, either, but the Saturday, maybe.

Sometimes I look back on an impulse to take a risk, which later, when I rejected it, I felt unwise, and I think, even later, it might have been worth the effort.

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