Ice conditions on Big Stone Lake are less than favorable after the last few days of warm weather, according to District conservation officer supervior of Game, Fish, and Parks, Jamie Pekelder, Although the ice was as thick as 11 inches in some areas before Christmas, some spots north of Hartford still had open water. The heavy snowfall during the holidays changed things dramatically. Big Stone Lake is now thickly covered in snow.
“Big Stone is basically a valley and the snow swirled in there and stayed, making a thick cover for the lake,” said Peckelder, “Right now the ice resembles a trampoline with a bunch of snow on it… We need some cold weather.”
Peckelder says there’s ice under the slush, but the slush has created really bad spots. The snow is weighing down the ice, and water is coming up and through. Navigating out on the lake is near impossible.”
Peckelder warns, “Pockets that were small pieces of open water are now big pieces of open water and ice, and you can’t tell because of the snow cover. I recommend foot traffic or a light ATV with tracks or a snowmobile. If Arties is removing houses (from Big Stone) then conditions on the lake are pretty bad.”
Peckelder says the shorelines are also bad from vehicle traffic. “There have been no major reports of anyone falling through the ice, but I have reports of a lot of people getting stuck in the slush pockets. They can be a foot deep and it will make you think you are going into the lake.” On the other hand, Peckelder says the thickness of the ice varies. “Some holes I drilled on Sunday were 13 inches thick.”
For those anglers longing for some time with their rod and reel, Peckhelder urges caution. He says, “Treat it like it’s early ice, like it’s the first time you’ve been out there for the year. Use all precautions, take a bar with you, and check ice thickness as you go. Drill holes as you go. If you don’t know, don’t venture too far. Don’t overdrive the conditions of your vehicle.
According to unverified reports, the conditions at Waubay and westward are better. Those areas didn’t receive as much snow.