Recognizing Different Kinds Of Ice

I love to ice fish in the winter, but I’m very careful because ice is never uniform on a body of water. Factors like wind and natural springs make a difference in ice formation.

Clear ice with a bluish-green tint is the first ice that forms and is the strongest you’ll see all season. And once that ice is about four-inches thick, it’s okay to fish or ice skate on.  But if there’s a covering of snow, be very careful.

Mick Klemesrud with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says snow puts the brakes on ice development.

"The worst scenario would be if your farm pond froze, had about an inch or two of ice on it, then you get a lot of snow. That snow’s going to be just like an insulation blanket in your attic it’s going to stop or really, really slow the ice growth," says Klemesrud. "No matter how cold it gets that snow really keeps the cold away from the ice."

You can drill holes to see how deep the ice is, and you’ll notice a drastic difference in thickness between the areas that have snow cover and those that don’t. There could be as much as 50% more ice in the open areas.

Dangerous ice has an off-color. It can look milky white, gray or black. Ice that’s rotting has a “honeycomb” look to it from the ice crystals starting to separate. That means it’s in its final stage of disintegration.

"If you put an ice auger on honeycombing ice and you start to cut, you’ll see big chunks of the stuff coming up," he says. "It doesn’t have that fine shaving that you have earlier in the year.  It’s very dangerous ice, it’s weak ice, it’s ice that will give way under weight, it’s been stressed to the point where it’s going to be going out shortly."