Ice fishing can be real crapshoot

I see from your Fishing Report that Diamond Lake is iced over and will open to fishing Jan. 1 under the new rule that makes it a year-round fishing lake. We're thinking about going up there for New Year's Day when the lake opens, but how are we or anyone going to know if the ice is thick enough to be safe?

— Dan D., Medford

The short answer, Dan, is that if you see some guy significantly larger than you make it out to the lake, then give it a shot.

Short of that it's a crapshoot. In the past, no one's bothered to test Jan. 1 ice for fishing because fishing wasn't legal.

"It's really up in the air," says Rick Rockholt, marketing and events manager at the Diamond Lake Resort.

"This is really going to be one great experiment."

The only ice fishing that's previously been allowed there has been the occasional fourth Saturday in April — the traditional start of trout season in Oregon — when the lake was still frozen. On those occasions, the resort's marina staff would venture out to a spot on the lake where the water's about 5 feet deep, then drill a hole and measure the thickness, Rockholt says.

Normally ice around 5 to 6 inches thick is sufficient, but even then it varies, Rockholt says.

Southern Cascades lakes don't get that thick, clear sheet of ice that you see in the Midwest. It's more of a mix of layers of ice and snow, Rockholt says.

The lake currently is covered with a sheet of ice that might not be much thicker than 1 inch now, but it is insulated by 42 inches of snow that has fallen at the 5,200-foot level since Dec. 16, Rockholt says.

By New Year's Eve, it will be tough to guess just how deep the ice is there, he says.

"We'll probably have someone venture out there in snowshoes to measure it," Rockholt says. "Probably not me, though. I'm too full grown.

"We'll send one of the skinny people," he says.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.


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