The latest round of near-zero temperatures has pumped new life into
the ice-fishing picture, but larger reservoirs of the state still are far
above normal levels and would have to be considered very dangerous even
if some of the smaller bays offer some ice.
The same can be said of smaller lakes--even ponds--if they are fed
by streams, or if they iced up when water levels were above normal from
earlier heavy rains.
When ice is supported by water it can be very strong, even if it is
not thick. But even thick ice becomes very risky when water levels fall
and leave it suspended. This condition is not always obvious, but
if ice slopes toward the middle of any body of water it could be a dangerous
A few years back, Harden Lake (Raccoon Reservoir) was only slightly
above winter pool stage and the walleyes there beckoned to ice fishermen.
There was a beautiful cover of ice, but it was several feet above the water
and so dangerous that the lake wisely had to be closed to fishing.
In the early years of Monroe Reservoir’s storied sport fishery, I was
fishing through 12 inches of clear, solid ice only a few hundred yards
from the end of Moore’s Creek Bay when I encountered one of the most frightening
things I have ever experienced on the ice.
I was at the middle of the bay, facing the long expanse of ice that
ran out to the big water of the reservoir. Suddenly, this air-splitting
crack (like a continuing rifle shot) filled the air as it grew closer and
louder by the second.
There was no time to do anything but sit and watch. I had heard and
observed ice settling on water; I knew what was happening. As the noise
grew louder the ice seemed to shutter and a crack in the ice shot between
my feet at what seemed to be the speed of sound. There was not a drop of
water on the ice.
Ice settling on the water of smaller bodies of water can be just as
frightening and more dangerous--especially if it is only a few inches thick.
As always in ice fishing, the watchword is CAUTION.
THE DEER PICTURE 1-24-05
Aside from the fact that House Bill (HB) 1780, a perfectly atrocious
measure that would encourage deer-pen hunting in Indiana, has been introduced
in the Indiana General Assembly, there is good news concerning the state’s
Dr. Jim Mitchell, deer biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife
(DFW). says the still-running total for all recently-ended deer seasons
stands at about 121,000, roughly 14,000 greater than the 2003-04 total
“We’re still getting a few reports,” Mitchell says, “but the total
bag is going to be about 121,000.”
Mitchell still is sorting out the figures on the harvest by gender,
but he says the total bag of 121,000 will be the second highest harvest
in the history of modern-day deer seasons. The record harvest was 123,000
In the meantime, Phil Hawkins, a Franklin scorer for Boone & Crockett
and other record books, scored a 12-point typical last Sunday at 180 1/8
(one eighth) inches. That buck, an 18-pointer with 22 4/8 (four-eights)
inches of deductions, was taken by Bob Hardwick, Mitchell, with muzzle
loading rifle at Crane Naval Support Center, during a special hunt
Hawkins, who has scored deer racks for many years, says Hardwick’s
rack probably will be in the top 10 racks of all time In Indiana, and probably
will be the top rack taken with muzzle loading rifle in the 2004-05 seasons.
Hawkins measured the main beam of the Hardwick rack at six inches and
added that it was five inches in circumference toward its terminal end.
Still another rack scored by Hawkins is a 10-point typical (three non-typical
spurs) taken by Mark Bonnewell, Camby, with bow in Ripley County.
Hawkins also has scored a non-typical (15-point) rack at 195. This
one was taken by Scott Marsteller, now of Colorado, from Putnam County.
Deer racks must age two months before they are scored, so it is much
too early to be thinking about the largest racks of the year. Still, the
state is off to a good start.