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Ramble with Storm: Death, breathing, freezing & safe ice

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stormtight.jpg Mulling things on my morning ramble

with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.

Whew, just felt good to stretch it out this morning and take a breath.

The last few days I've been swamped juggling three outdoors shows, the death of Bill Cullerton Sr. and family doings.

And a lot has transpired on the town pond, too.

In the warmth of Saturday, the kids and I played around the decaying ice. Unbelievably, the cap left on the south old clay pit could support even my weight, if I spread out and was really careful. By Saturday noon, the north pit was beginning to open and I told the kids that the wind would probably completely open it up.

By yesterday morning, the north pit was completely open water. And there was even 28 geese swimming tight to shore.

This morning, with temperatures down near 10, the south pit was locked up again and I suspect an adventurous sort might be able to ice fish there again by tomorrow morning or maybe Wednesday.

The north pit is another matter. Two thirds of it remained open because of the strong northwest winds.

That brings me to the notion of safe ice. One of the greatest idiocies in Chicago outdoors writing is about how much it takes for safe ice.

The cliched notion is that it is 4 inches. OK, 4 inches of ice is generally safe, generally safe enough to hold a sumo wrestling match on. But if you see an outdoors writer repeating that cliché about 4 inches being safe, you likely are dealing with a hack.

No ice is safe as any experienced ice fisherman will tell you. That's because ice is variable. It isn't like it is a piece of half-inch plywood. The depths of ice vary, as was graphically shown this morning on the town pond.

But that is not to say that you need to wait to safely ice fish until the north old clay pit freezes over to the depth of 4 inches. You can safely ice fish on patches that will have a couple inches of walkable ice by tomorrow or Wednesday.

You use caution, carry picks or wear a life jacket, and trust your common sense and instincts.

I have fished on as little as 1.5 inches of very clear tough first ice. I did it cautiously and over shallow water. I would not recommend that often, but it varies. That's my point about the 4-inch recommendation being a cliché.

I could go on. But time to move on.

The dusting of snow, over the coating left by the freezing rain yesterday, made me stride cautiously this morning.

Beautiful morning, even before dawn, with enough snow cover to lighten the dark.

Also helped to make it cold, down around 10. I suspect the wind chill was below 0, cold enough that I stuck to the regular ramble even though I wanted to stretch it out to the extended ramble.

A multitude of Canada geese raised a ruckus on the lake to the west. Speaking of safe or unsafe ice, they kept a good patch of open water through all winter so far.

None of them flew. I have a feeling this evening or afternoon there will be a big flight over town.

A lone dove fluttered from the brush by the old rail bed now a trail above the south end of the south pit.

That was it for wildlife.

Another big jumble of work and family schedules this week. Why I relish the half hour or so of rambling with the meathead.

townpond_adjusted (1).JPG

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 14, 2013 8:17 AM.

Radio Waves: Alligator gar reintroduction in Illinois was the previous entry in this blog.

In memory: Bill Cullerton Sr. is the next entry in this blog.

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