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Where O Where is the safe ice??

Started by djkimmel, December 23, 2019, 02:40:28 PM

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I drove out to Round Lake Friday afternoon to get my heart broken... Was hoping to be pleasantly surprised by thicker, clean ice considering I was breaking lots of 3/4 to 1/ 1/2 inch ice to fish my last two times in the boat there in late November but no such luck... darn.

Drove up to see an ice-covered lake but it also looked like 2 small, narrow openings in the ice and one very long, narrow strip out in the middle. Got my binoculars out and still couldn't be sure but it was either strips of water on the ice, or open water as all three spots were lower than the surrounding ice.

Bought new blades for my ancient 8" Mora hand auger as last winter it got to the point that all I could do was cut wide, shallow saucers in the ice!! Not good when the ice is 14 to 16 inches thick!! Figured I could at least test that, plus... I'm hoping a new hand drill I bought might make things easier on my aging joints. I had it hooked to a slightly newer (but still very old) 6 inch Mora my brother Jim loaned me.

I was able to spud through the ice with 4 or 5 pokes at the most standing at the boat ramp Friday. Not good. I could see the ice was poor quality. In a few test spots the spud went through in only 2 or 3 pokes! The dead giveaway not to even try walking out at all was the absence of zero tracks or disturbances of any kind out on the lake - I was looking for that too with my binoculars. The only sign someone else had even tried the ice was an auger hole only 12 feet out from the boat ramp. That was it.

I realize ice around shore, especially around objects, tends to be mixed and poor but no way was I going out on 3 inches or less of poor quality ice hoping it would 'get better.' Someone else can be the pioneer (guinea pig) there!!

I walked slowly and gingerly out a few feet on one of the big drain tubes at the ramp and gave my new 8 inch blade a try. Had to be careful there too as it wouldn't take much to break through and put my new blades into the rocks and gravel around the boat ramp. I was happy to see the new blades appear to cut pretty good. Maybe not pristine but I won't be sure about improvements until I can get out on some real ice and stand right over the auger. Hopefully, I can cut holes again halfway decent (or better).

But, the real excitement trying to well up over my disappoint of not enough safe ice comes from my new hand drill auger rig. Unfortunately, my brother had left this auger in his garage for who knows how many years. I had to work at it just to be able to use the threads on the auger arm. The blades were somewhat rusted too. I oiled them and tried lightly sandpapering any obvious rust off around the blade edges. Having tried last year to sharpen my old 8 inch blades, I don't have a lot of confidence in doing that.

So, more disappoint shouldn't have been too surprising... When I tried to use my new drill to cut a hole the blades skittered all over the place!?! I could barely hold the drill in one spot to even make a 'saucer' like my dull 8 inch blades were doing last winter!!! I tried adjusting the speed and torque enough times to know I was not going to get these blades to catch even long enough to start to dig a hole through. It was more challenging not being able to stand right over the drill on the ice, but I came close enough I should have been able to at least get beyond a very shallow saucer about 20 inches wide.

I gave up after a couple minutes because I think if I tried to push harder I was going to cut myself or fall over onto the ice!! Could not keep the auger in one spot with any success for more than a moment...

So, I've asked Santa for a new plain old Mora 6 inch auger for Christmas because I want to be able to drill some holes without wearing myself out. Assuming we EVER get safe ice around Lansing... I imagine there may be safe ice on one or two of the few tiny bodies of water nearby. I have a (chicken) little different opinion about safe ice than some anglers. Don't really like swimming in real cold water. Think I'm going to wait until next weekend to give something, somewhere, another shot. Maybe, if Santa feels I've been a good boy, I'll have a new 6 inch auger to try on my new hand drill...

I would try my ancient 8 inch auger on the hand drill, but I cannot get it apart so far. I'm also concerned the effort of getting it apart might make it unusable. Don't think I've ever taken it apart in the thousand years I've owned it...

I imagine some of you have been out by now, maybe far up north? A friend who lived around here up until recently has just started to send me pictures of trout and perch he's catching through the ice. I forget he moved to Montana in June so that explains why he has safe ice. He told me they usually have safe ice until April 30 where he now lives!! That's a little too much for me. I do like my spring open water fishing!!! Good luck out there, and be safe. I need to fish soon, but not if it involves a possible unplanned swim!!! ;D

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