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#484267 12/18/17 02:53 PM
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I thought this may be an interesting topic for some folks here on the forum of observations I have made in the past 6 years of waiting impatiently for the ice on our pond to become usable for ice skating. It is often a very frustrating wait compounded by an obviously changing climate.

1. On the occasion we have a severe and quick cold snap early in the winter and the water was previously open, this ice will thicken very slowly, especially with snow on it. The theory here is there is a lot of latent trapped heat in the water column that is insulated by the layer of ice and snow. This remaining heat is forming circulations that are melting ice from below while trying to freeze from above. This is what we are experiencing now. Two weeks of sub 20's and holes keep appearing in the ice, and a large variety of thicknesses. Dangerous stuff!
This is where even a light weight of snow is enough to crack the ice to where it leaks water and adds a layer of slush to the top. You get those cool "tree" patterns where the heat is welling from below, melting the ice in interesting patterns.

2. If the chill is gradual and the ice can close off slowly, this is the best stuff. Ice grows thick faster, is harder, and doesn't leak under the weight of snow. The theory here is the water column gets chilled and stratified so there is not much mixing going on melting the ice from below so it just remains solid.

3. Sandwich ice is terrible. Had this stuff last year where we had an early freeze, thaw, rain and snow, and another freeze. The snow mixed with water to a 3" layer of slush on top of old ice, and then froze again on the top. The slush refused to freeze. It seemed thick, tested thick, and your skate would blow right through.

4. Ground water ponds are dangerous. The water entering the pond from ground water is significantly warmer than water already chilled in the pond, and will act like #1, melting ice from below. Snow on top as an insulator? The ice can completely melt from below due to this heat rising to the top.

5. Skipping rocks across <1" thick black ice is where Star Wars got its blaster sounds. Try it some time!

I am interested to hear some other observations.

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Very interesting stuff! I am also interested to hear more!

I am from GA so not very much experience with this snow/ice stuff. Last year for Christmas we went up to our place in the mountains. From home I had been watching the daily pics of the lake from remote cam and shortly after the pond froze over it had 1'+ snow on top of the ice. When we got there I really wanted to try to ice fish and figured I needed to test the ice before I walked out on it at all. I took an 8' ground rod and walked out onto the peninsula and started poking through the snow to find some ice. There was at least 2' of snow over the ice at that point. I figured I would hit something hard and then see if I could poke the ground rod through it. If I couldn't poke through, then I would dig down to the ice and see what was up. I poked around everywhere off that peninsula and couldn't ever find the "tink tink" I was expecting from hitting a layer of ice. The ground rod was even coming up wet. Needless to say this GA boy was veryyyy confused and too scared to walk off the peninsula at all because it drops straight off into fairly deep water. All I could imagine was me winding up like Forrest Bondurant in the movie Invincible! Lol I still don't understand wth was going on up there.


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I have been dealing with ground water ponds for 17 years now in MN. Your #4 on the list really hits home with me. One thing that has been constant over the years...ice safety on these smaller BOW can be very difficult. Aerated or not, the ice on these ponds is very unpredictable and at times extremely dangerous.

6. Signs and roped of barriers usually work for humans but dogs and wildlife can't seem to read the thin ice signs. Pulling out a drown whitetail or stray dog can really pull at this mans heart

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About 5 years ago I was prepairing for a trip to the middle east. I woke to hear the most plaintive cries I've ever heard. A dog had fallen through the ice in back of the house. I jumped in the boat and made like an ice breaker to the dog. Pushed the boat out on the ice then walked forward to break the ice. I was afraid I'd get bit but the dog was glad to be rescued. I have no idea how long the dog was in the lake but he wouldn't have lasted much longer. From the front legs back, he just didn't work. Totally limp in the rear.

I took him in, dried him out and warmed him up. That dog wouldn't leave my side. He had to be touching me at all times. I named him Lucky and started canvassing the neighborhood for his owner. Got bags of dog food, all kinds of dog toys and even a few offers to adopt but no owner.

Finally called the local police. Their comment was, "I think we have a match". A couple streets over a family was baby sitting the man's father's dog. He had always wanted a dog but his wife didn't. After taking care of his wife for years during an illness; she relented and suggested he get a dog. He rescued the dog from the shelter.

Ironically it was close to the end so he named it ..... Lucky.

The local paper even did an article on the rescue and reunion. Apparently dogs don't know not to tread on thin ice and I never made the trip.


1.3 A, 80 yr old, renovation summer 2017, SW VA, 2000' elevation, Shallow, Spring Fed, Little Watershed, Stock Fall '17 with LMB, BG, RESF, FHM. Indigenous: Triploid Grass Carp, Israeli Carp, GSH
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Ice is pretty crazy stuff...just remember 39* water is the most dense and ice thickens downward.

Some quick thoughts - Ice with snow on top will always "grow" slower than ice without snow on top. Cold windy air will produce more ice growth in the absence of snow. A good snow storm over cold water can trigger a fast freeze. Warm, windy air will deplete ice fairly quickly...warm rain is never good for ice to maintain thickness. Water fowl, current, and wave action can keep ponds open fairly long despite cold temperatures.


Oddly enough I've ice fished some great ground water fed ponds where the water temp 6" below the ice can reach 38 degrees...its an odd feeling knowing that water is warmer than the air, and the ice, yet you're safely ice fishing haha

Last edited by Matzilla; 12/18/17 06:22 PM.

Mat Peirce
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Originally Posted By: Mal
About 5 years ago I was prepairing for a trip to the middle east. I woke to hear the most plaintive cries I've ever heard. A dog had fallen through the ice in back of the house. I jumped in the boat and made like an ice breaker to the dog. Pushed the boat out on the ice then walked forward to break the ice. I was afraid I'd get bit but the dog was glad to be rescued. I have no idea how long the dog was in the lake but he wouldn't have lasted much longer. From the front legs back, he just didn't work. Totally limp in the rear.

I took him in, dried him out and warmed him up. That dog wouldn't leave my side. He had to be touching me at all times. I named him Lucky and started canvassing the neighborhood for his owner. Got bags of dog food, all kinds of dog toys and even a few offers to adopt but no owner.

Finally called the local police. Their comment was, "I think we have a match". A couple streets over a family was baby sitting the man's father's dog. He had always wanted a dog but his wife didn't. After taking care of his wife for years during an illness; she relented and suggested he get a dog. He rescued the dog from the shelter.

Ironically it was close to the end so he named it ..... Lucky.

The local paper even did an article on the rescue and reunion. Apparently dogs don't know not to tread on thin ice and I never made the trip.



Great story Mal. Thanks for sharing!


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The wife just corrected me, it was 11 years ago....time flies when you're having fun.


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What we do up here in Canada is drill a hole in the ice like ice fishing and drop in a pump. We then pump water on top of the ice on those cold windless nights. You can build really good hard ice fast but you need some to start and a string of cold nights.

If you have a gravel road or open plowed farm land near your pond with much wind very rarely will you have good ice. The wind will add nice dirt dust to the ice and just destroy your ice skates.

Cheers Don.


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7/8th of an acre, Perch only pond, Ontario, Canada.
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We did that with a trash pump once, and good old New York weather didn't cooperate. Two days later it snowed, the ice leaked, and another layer of slush to deal with.

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Have you guys ever experienced "dooming" of your ice? The pond covers with ice when an aeration system is not running. Then, once the system start ups, the pressure pushes the ice off the water before the moving water can open a hole. With windmills and other intermittent aeration systems this seems to happen a lot for me.

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MNFish,

I have heard of that. Someone on the forum posted a story of that happening at their pond once. IIRC, they shot the dome and the whole thing collapsed! Lol

I am curious since you have seen that often. Is the aeration ever able to poke thru the ice? What eventually ends up happening?


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I think you mean dome-ing? Like a big air pocket trapped underneath? The temptation to do something fun with that would be irresistible! Shooting it as has been done would be one of the many fun options.

A long time ago I was attempting to ice-fish on a large pond just on the shoreline of Lake Ontario (Durand Eastman Park), and that ice was reverse dome-ing. The ice, when expanding, pushed downwards instead of up. My friend and I punched a hole in it to fish, and immediately regretted it! Nice thick ice, and water gushed up out of the hole in large quantities, soaking us up to our knees.

It is the coldest I have ever been waiting for his mom to come pick us up. The wind coming off of the big lake, brrrr!!!


On another note, when ice gets thick and really cold, it starts to shrink and crack close to the surface. When you are standing on it and the cracks appear, it is rather nerve-wracking. It makes for a very cool sound, but you may need to wear diapers as it goes very unexpectedly and loud! Usually starts at night when the sun goes down or you just plowed snow off the ice and exposed it to cold air.

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Good catch squid! Dome-ing is what I meant.

Is the aeration ever able to poke thru the ice? What eventually ends up happening?

IME, The hole will open given enough wind or sun, depending on which, intermittent aeration system your running. The problem is for those ice covered days, sometimes weeks in my location, there is no atmospheric O2 exchange.

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The expanding and contracting + cracking ice is one of the best parts of ice fishing. I've had quite a few cracks form right under me and you get that great feeling as you drop 1/2" or more haha I can't wait to hear some ice "sing" in the next few weeks


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Yeah, the combination of the sudden sound and the ability to feel it happen is what can be frightening. We had some friends over with kids to skate late one night on black ice when the temperature dropped like a stone. It scared the kids right off! They thought they were going to break through. The ice was probably 8" at the time and perfect.

Looking out the window right now, and it is freezing rain on top of snow. Water is leaking up the perimeter of the pond as the weight of the precipitation is pushing down on it. It is making for some poor skating conditions.

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wbuffetjr - I will post our aeration experiences/discoveries in this thread going forward. We have some, what I think to be, paradigm shifting experiments running this winter.

First, a little background to those from the North that do not know me.

All of my 16 years of experience are in waters in central MN. My three ponds and about 10 other ponds here in MN. I am not trained in fisheries. Not trained in any kind of biology. Not trained in any aspect of water management. Just a retired medical device mechanical engineer that has a love of this incredibly complicated subject of northern water aeration. If any of my statements going forward seem sweeping or over generalizing...they are not meant to be. Central MN experiences only! And has been stated in this forum numerous times over, no two BOW are alike!

Last year, with the time and the passion for science, my buddy and I started to question everything about aerating frozen bodies of water. Grid powered, solar powered, and wind driven all do the same thing. Using a compressor, air line, and bottom diffuser to facilitate the dissolving of O2 from the atmosphere into the water. These systems, as they stand today, have many limitations to the frozen waters here in MN. They are inefficient, expensive, and most importantly create a very dangerous situation (unseeable thin ice). So, our mission born in a bar room...Find a way to aerate any body of water safely and cost effective here in MN.

The biggest challenge so far, as Bill Cody posted, is there is not much documented scientific based data out there. And most of the aeration knowledge is based on southern waters. The further we have dug the more we realized the word Aeration is way too broad of a term for waters that freeze over for long periods of time. Introduction of O2 into the water is important but letting the pond "breath" is as important. We have no answers, yet, but we are at least getting some of, what we believe to be, the key questions that need answering to fulfil our mission.

Complicated and challenging to say the least! Like a lot of other subjects, the more you know, the more you realize what little you know.

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I am REALLY looking forward to seeing what you find and also trying to contribute any data I can.


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Very strange ice conditions indeed. Went from mild winter to a single-digit string of cold with snow on top. I am determined to get the ice cleared for skating, but we have to be careful of just staying in the middle. The edges are off-limits!

Pond edges are still thin and dangerous, center thick as a brick. Odd holes keep appearing in strained areas where water leaks up though, steams, and fills an area to where it re-freezes again leaving a black-ice window to the world below.

My first go with the 4-wheeler was nuts a few days ago. I got out and started plowing, and suddenly the whole thing broke up due to massive waves I was making. It was wild, and frankly quite frightening. Got the heck off the ice as soon as I was able. From the shore I could see the ice was very thick, yet broke anyways. Luckily the slabs settled back down fairly level and it re-froze.

Today things were much better, and the area near shore that I shoveled was much more solid. The center is beyond the thickness my drill bit will measure, more than 8 inches. Even so, where I piled snow on the edges, the weight caused a crack that water gushed up through and saturated the snow pushing it down even more. Where the water was gushing up through I could see the ice was at least 6" around the hole, and the water looked "odd" like jello.

So even though it is behaving like warm water problems, the ice is so cold that it was cracking and groaning due to the cold right next to a hole of steaming water.

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Originally Posted By: Matzilla
The expanding and contracting + cracking ice is one of the best parts of ice fishing. I've had quite a few cracks form right under me and you get that great feeling as you drop 1/2" or more haha I can't wait to hear some ice "sing" in the next few weeks


I have never heard ice "sing" unless a rock was skipped over it, until this morning. Temps are around 10F and ice is 8" or so, very clear. I kept hearing pinging and noticed lots of fresh cracks. I thought I had a leak that was causing water levels to drop, but no air pockets visible and no water or unusual ice behind the dam. Your post eased my mind! Although I will keep looking for air pockets!

Happy New Year everyone.
CMM


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No question the ice is safe now. I can shine my "tactical" LED flashlight (re-purposed car headlight or something) through one of the skylight holes from and old leak and see it is at least 10 inches thick now. Freezes nice without snow on it!

In case you are wondering how to tell thickness this way: Do this at night with a bright flashlight and a tight beam. A green laser pointer would work great!

If you want to get fancy, angle the flashlight at roughly 45 degrees to the ice surface and then mark on the surface where you see the beam exit the ice and hit the water. Typically you can easily see the difference in clarity between water and ice unless the water is very clear. Measure from the flashlight location to the mark. Use a little trigonometry to get a good estimate on thickness. Diffraction due to light entering the ice and where you observe the water can be factored in too for more accuracy.

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About a week ago we had an "ice eater" thaw, when the dew point hit 50+ degrees. Went from more than 18 inches to 2 inches from 8AM to 8PM. It was the fastest I have ever seen ice and snow disappear. 10PM that night, it started snowing, and we had 15 inches of snow by morning.

Wild weather!

That slush on the pond re-froze to 4 inches of the worst ice-skating ice ever created. Just loose granular stuff.

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Sorry I am new and don't know how to start a question, so I am going to start here. I have frozen condensation in my air lines. what can I safely to the fish use to melt the Ice in my lines?

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I believe folks use isopropyl alcohol to clear frozen air lines, but an expert should weigh in to verify this.

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I just cleared an air line with 99% isopropyl alcohol today. Just pour some in the line then pressurize the line. I used a full size portable air compressor as they are much higher pressure then an aeration pump, but your aeration pump should work also. It works like magic. This is the first time I had a line freeze, the weather has been crazy going from warm to below zero, I think that was the cause.

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So an interesting this I discovered today when trying to plow off 3" of snow: If the edges are thin from a recent thaw while the center is still 6" plus. If I get a crack near the edge which pushes down on the water below, I wind up making a wake/wave out in front of the plow. The added weight of the snow makes it even larger! I managed to break up 6" ice this way all across the pond and ruined the skating rink. I had to abandon ship for fear of going down in a corner of one of the sheets. :-(.

Lesson? Stay away from the edges and try not to make the rink so darned large.

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