Friday, December 9, 2011

Update on Gray's Bay Ice Conditions (12/9/2011 @ 2:00PM)

Well, I finally got out on the ice today and got some lines wet. I'll get right to the fishing report and say that I didn't get any bites. I was shallower than I would've liked to be, only about 6 feet, and I had to get off the ice by 1:30 (Got there at 12:30, didn't even really get setup till 12:45). To make things even better, I realized that I left my Humminbird in the wheeler which is stored up near Mille Lacs right now. Might have to make the drive up there this weekend just so I have it handy in the meantime..

Auger, Bucket, Dog, and a Tip-up
Although, I did spot a fish. As soon as I drilled my last hole, I kneeled down to check the ice and saw a real nice northern only a few feet below the ice. A safe guess would be lower 30"s, but I'd say mid 30"s. I ran as fast as I could (Almost went face first into the ice a couple times) back to my bucket to grab a minnow and tip up, but by the time I got back the fish had moved on.

Not the greatest first outing of the season, but it felt real good to finally get on the ice again.

Now, as far as ice conditions go, you do still need to be careful and watch where you're walking. There are a few spots (Small, 6" diameter) that seem to be a little thinner (3" still). The good news regarding those, is they're very prominent. As long as you watch where you're walking, you won't have trouble spotting them.

I mentioned to some people recently that there were some snowy spots on the ice, and those too seem to be slightly thinner than the rest of the ice. I'd say most of them were about 3.5"-4" (Drilled most of my holes in snowy spots), so they're safe, but again, caution is always a good idea. If you're walking on clear ice, there's a good chance you're on a solid 5" or more. There's also a good set of "paths" that were created by cracks and water flooding that are for the most part, your safest option, these were also about 5"+.

Now, with all that being said, I've got a pretty drastic new discovery. OPEN WATER.

Red = Bad, Green = Good
Yep. We still have open water on the bay. I've drawn a little map as to where it is, so people can avoid these areas. From the landing out to the first break down to about 20fow seemed perfectly safe. I wouldn't venture too far south/southeast. The map highlights the areas I wouldn't travel in red, the area in green, to my knowledge, is entirely safe. The red question marks are where there's a small opening to a little lagoon. I didn't make it all the way over there to check ice, so be cautious if you're heading that way in search of that small 30' hole that's over there. I'm pretty confident it's safe, I just obviously don't want to be sending people into uncharted areas.

Can barely see the other guys, but they made it to the drop off.
There were a couple other guys out there that I met and got to chat with for a while. One guy who was waiting for his buddy to show up and I talked for a solid 30 minutes. Real nice guy. They made it out to the big hole in the middle of the lake, and said they had a good 4-5" out there as well. They were just setting up as I had to get off the ice, so I'm not sure how they were doing, but hopefully they're having better luck. But it's good news that the main hole is safe for people who don't want to be stuck in 6' with weeds everywhere. On that note, though, it does seem pretty clear that weeds are dying quickly. The area I was fishing is overgrown and entirely unfishable during the summer, but actually provided a real nice clearing in between two weed beds at this time of year.

So there we go. First actual "report" - no fish to show for it, but either way it felt great to get out there albeit for only an hour (Most of which was spent taking care of this girl ->). I'll probably repeat this all winter, but be smart, be safe, drill holes and check ice often. They'll likely be frozen over by tomorrow morning real nice considering I was having to break layers of ice from my holes just during the hour I was out there. So don't feel too bad about lots of holes. Good luck to everyone who's out there today/tonight. I'll probably be back out tomorrow early in the morning/afternoon (MAYBE tonight again, but we'll see. Meetings at 3:30 and I don't know how long they'll take) for the pike bite if you want to try to catch me out there. Otherwise, again, stay safe and good luck!

(Also, please take the word "safe" with a grain of salt. NO ice is "safe". You never know where a warm spot, spring, or moving water could be. So always, always, check your ice often when it's this early in the season. Don't be afraid to bring those ice picks either. Better safe then sorry.)

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