Some recent stories from this ice fishing season serve as reminders that ice conditions can vary across the same body of water. On water bodies with flowing water, including rivers and river fed lakes, the higher rates of flow in some areas can leave spots of thinner ice. On rivers, watch for areas where water flows over or around obstructions including man made obstructions such as bridge piers as the ice immediately before and after is often thinner. Where water flows down a set of rapids or over a weir the ice can be thinner for up to a kilometer or more. Just witness the mostly ice free section of the South Saskatchewan river flowing through Saskatoon this winter. The power plant at the south end of town releases warmer water and the weir in the center of the city roughly between downtown and the university breaks up the formation of ice. Add to this the many bridge piers and the result is very inconsistent or complete lack of ice this winter.
Many lakes are fed by rivers, underground springs, or both. The under surface flow of the river current through a lake will mean thinner ice, especially at the mouths of the river and any narrow passages. Underground springs can also produce inconsistent ice thickness. During warming cycles, these underground springs can run stronger and any snow melt on surrounding hills can produce runoff streams that weaken the ice up to several hundred meters from shore.
If you are unfamiliar with a body of water, play it safe and follow the lead of local anglers and stick to the wheel tracks of others.
Buffalo Pound, Saskatchewan
Lost Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan