This "spring" the weather is the talk of the town. Stubbornly cool temperatures have camped over NW Ontario sending signals for a late ice out this year. Trumping the cool temperatures is 4-5 feet of snow blanketing the lakes and the boreal forest providing plenty of insulation for the ice. Mother Nature will have to provide some heat soon to chip away at that deep snow. Fortunately, deep snow creates a good run off when it melts, causing the ice to separate from the shoreline promptly.
Let us flashback twelve months. Last March and April NW Ontario was graced with temperatures soaring into the mid seventies. The weather was so unbelievably warm that Sandy Lake Seaplane had a float plane in the water on the 29th of March, the earliest ever the ice retreated from the banks of Sandy Lake.
On an average year, the ice departs the lakes in the Opasquia Park around the 10th of May. Historically Central and Cocos are the first two lakes to clear due to more current moving throughout. The last late ice out in NW Ontario occurred in 2004. To qualify for a late ice out, the ice has to disappear after the walleye opener, which is the third Saturday in May. The ice in 2004 didn't vacate the water until June 1st.
For those of you familiar with Central Lake, in 2004 we were forced to land a plane on the East Portage and hike a mile through the bush in order to begin opening up. Our first objective was to begin cracking ice. After a couple days, the ice pulled slightly away from the shore and we prepped our battering rams. These included several boats loaded full up with logs and a motor on each with a less than stellar prop. No need to have good prop on a motor when you are chewing through 50000 pounds of ice. To crack the ice, one just gets a full head of steam and drives the boat up onto the ice wherever possible. After some rocking and jumping in the boat and plenty of of swings of an ax the ice usually caves. Do this for 8-10 hrs a day and you are one tired/sore person. Breaking the ice into sections causes the melt to increase exponentially.
Needless to say we do not want another 2004 and we are keeping our fingers crossed for some sunshine and warm temperatures for the next couple of weeks. On a brighter note, I hope everyone is getting a chance to break out their gear and get out on the water this spring for a little early water action. Good luck to everyone's fishing endeavors.