I have already read several reports detailing how some have fallen in, (or have gotten "wet") fishing early ice. So in an attempt to reach out and possibly save someone's life, please keep in mind the following guidelines:
1. Ice forms at different rates on different bodies of water. For those who really want to " geek out," there are scientific algorithms that can be used to calculate the anticipated ice growth. These are based on the average degrees below freezing that the temperatures have been in any given day, or period of time. However, various other factors such as wind speed, snow cover, sun angle, and river current, can GREATLY influence the ice growth rate.
2. Another big factor, is the amount of cloud cover, especially at night. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: Ice growth is most optimal when we experience a cold night, with a clear sky. That same temperature, with cloud cover, can hinder ice growth by as much as 4-5 times. This is primarily due to a scientific principle known as radiant cooling. So even though we have had some fairly cold nights lately, it's vital to take note of whether they have been cloudy or not.
So how do we put that into practical terms? On a 32 degree, still night, if it's clear, and if a lake has 2" of clear ice, for example, it's reasonable to expect, 1/3 of an inch of ice to form. Now, if we take that same windless night, but it's cloudy, it would take temperatures of 7 degrees to make that same amount of ice. With a 10 MPH wind, we only need an average temp of 27 to make the same amount of ice.
So as you can see, just making the assumption that "Its been cold for a few days and nights, there should be plenty of ice," doesn't cut it!
It pays to check on conditions daily, or just before you plan a trip.
As usual, please use extreme caution this time of year before venturing on the ice.
Be safe! Enjoy the ice fishing season! Tight lines (or tip ups) whatever be the case!!