We have just exited one of the warmest December's on record and we are way behind on our average snowfall totals so far this season; so to say that we are also behind on the ice formation on local waterways is a given. 

What You Need To Know

  • It has been a slow start to the ice fishing season

  • Colder temperatures in the next two weeks are needed for better ice

  • Understanding the safety of ice fishing before heading on the ice is key

Ice fishers across the region can't wait to see the mercury drop. Although colder spots through the Adirondacks and St. Lawrence River regions have provided some nice spots so far, this season has left a lot to be desired as far as ice formation goes.

However, there's good news for eager anglers. The forecast pattern is making a big flip to cold! 

Temperature trends over the next two weeks look to stay below average, which will allow for ice to form on our local lakes. A cold and wintry forecast is only one part of the equation when it comes to having enough ice and safety purposes. 

When it comes to ice fishing, new ice is the best. New ice formation is stronger and can be trusted for going out and fishing. Older ice can be partially thawed, leading to weak spots.

Additionally, the type of body of water ice forms on makes a big difference in the safety situation. Standing water and lakes form ice in a sheet with uniform thickness, making it more reliable. On the other hand, ice forming on streams with currents and bends tends to have uneven thickness and thus, is much weaker.

You may also think both cold and snow are a good combo for ice formation, but that isn't always the case. If heavy snow piles up on ice, it can have an insulating effect, slowing down the freezing process. Also, remember that snow adds extra weight on top of the ice, so less additional weight can be added. 

The one thing that may seem counterintuitive with ice fishing safety is lots of fish swimming below the ice can make the ice weaker. Schools of fish create movement within the water. This allows warmer water to come to the surface, thinning the ice. 

Always keep in mind the safety measures before going ice fishing and may these new colder temperatures make for a long, fun and safe season.