Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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Even the best laid plans . . . sometimes must be changed.
Thin ice has caused the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to cancel an ice fishing event planned for Saturday, February 23 at Hauser Lake.
Located in Idaho almost within a long fishing cast of Washington; Hauser Lake is a popular fishery for yellow perch, bluegills, crappie and other species.
The lake normally produces excellent fishing in both the summer and winter. This winter, however, has not been kind to northern Idaho ice fishing anglers. There were only about three weeks of good, solid ice present on Hauser and some of the other lowland lakes. The lack of solid ice made for a disappointing ice fishing season.
An inspection of Hauser Lake by Fish and Game Conservation Officer Rick Bogar on the morning of February 19 showed only two anglers on the entire 550 acre lake. They were fishing on the north side of the lake, precariously near open water.
"While two individual anglers may be able to get on and off the ice successfully, Fish and Game cannot sponsor an ice fishing event that could attract several hundred people when the ice is thin," said Phil Cooper of Fish and Game.
Fish and Game estimated more than 550 people attended the same event last year, with over 130 arriving before the scheduled start time.
"The turnout indicated there is a high level of interest in ice fishing," Cooper said, "and we were happy to provide instruction and to loan out ice fishing gear. It is disappointing it cannot be repeated this winter."
With no extreme cold weather in the near forecast, the event cannot be held next Saturday. Fish and Game plans to hold the event next February if weather conditions permit.
Ice conditions can change every day with fluctuating temperatures and changing water levels. Because of that, anglers must be very careful before venturing out on the ice. Ice that is at least 4 inches thick is safe if it is clear. Anything less or with bubbles embedded in it can be weak and dangerous.
Anglers looking for late season ice fishing opportunities could look at Upper Twin and Lower Twin lakes which tend to hold ice longer than most area waters. As of President's Day there was solid ice on both. However, the channel between the lakes thins out early. Neither of the Twin lakes have adequate access and parking for Fish and Game to move the planned event there.
Some of the Boundary County lakes may currently have safe ice, but conditions must be checked before every outing. Fish and Game urges anglers to check the ice carefully and use caution whenever walking onto ice covered lakes.
For information, contact Phil Cooper at Idaho Fish and Game 208-769-1414.