In Chelan County, Fish and Roses lakes provide good fishing during December and throughout the winter, says state Fish and Wildlife biologist Travis Maitland of Wenatchee.
Yellow perch and rainbow trout are the main winter targets at both lakes, which are open year-round.
Roses Lake was planted on Nov. 28 with 12,540 triploid rainbow trout.
“Fish Lake is popular for ice fishing,” Maitland said, “But, until we get low enough daytime and nighttime temperatures to produce thick, safe ice, everyone should be cautious.”
According to U.S. Coast Guard guidelines, no one should venture onto lake ice unless it is at least four inches thick, clear and solid. As much as nine inches may be needed to safely support snowmobiles or other vehicles. Such ice depths can form after at least a week of below freezing temperatures, both day and night.
Ice depths vary throughout a waterway due to underwater structures, springs, geothermal activity, and water movement caused by flows, wind, or waterfowl use. Rivers and streams rarely have safe ice because of constant currents. Thawing and refreezing can create air pockets that leave ice “honeycomb” or porous and significantly weakened.
Drilling a hole in the ice from a safe, nearshore location can give anglers an idea of ice depth. However, drilling only provides an estimate of the ice depth because shallow water near shore freezes quicker than deeper water in the middle of a lake where springs may slow the freezing process.
State Fish and Wildlife does not measure ice on fishing lakes and cannot guarantee ice fishing safety. But here are a few tips to help keep an outing safe:
Don’t fish alone. Let others know exactly where you and your fishing partners are going and when you plan to return.
Keep fishing holes small and few. When drilling fishing holes with an ice auger, keep the diameter under eight inches. Bigger holes are not necessary to land fish and can create a safety hazard for others.
Watch your step. Avoid ice fishing near feeder streams or known springs; brush, logs, plants or docks; multiple ice cracks or ice that is popping or otherwise audible; and dark-colored ice that may be weak.
Spread out. Too many people congregated in one area may be more than the ice can safely support. Disperse weight and fishing holes.
Be prepared for weather conditions. Dress in layers and wear thermal underwear, fleece or wool, and wind and waterproof outerwear, especially for feet, hands and head. Take extra clothes, food, water, sand for on-ice traction, and a sled for easy on-ice transport of all equipment.
Be prepared for emergencies. Carry equipment such as ice picks or awls, rope, and personal flotation devices. Also pack a first-aid kit and matches for starting a fire.
(Photo provided by The Seattle Times archive)