Pressure ridges pose unseen danger to ice fisherman
Ice fishing can be done safely, but pressure ridges are a natural phenomenon that need to be watched carefully.
Sheridan lake is a boon for ice fisherman as we approach the Christmas Holiday. Warmer temperatures haven’t slowed down the fishing activity, but it has caused some thermodynamic processes to take place in the ice.
Pressure ridges are forming, and they can pose an unseen danger to novice and expert fisherman a like.
Pressure ridges are caused by shifting, expanding and irregular ice that can sometimes be due to fluctuations in temperature, sunlight, lake depth, and other factors.
Ken Edel, Author of “The Black Hills Fishing Guide” and angler expert talked about the dangers.
“We’re going get a cold week here and a lot of this is going to freeze,” Edel explained. “And its going look like ‘oh that looks pretty good I’ll just drive across it’, but without knowing that there is a pressure ridge here, it makes it kind of dangerous.”
Once it freezes over, it can mask itself as safe, passable ice, even though its not. It can be even worse if it snows, because it masks the thin ice ever further. There is a way to spot these areas.
Edel further explained.
“If you see some irregularity in the ice, stop, take a look, and walk and verify it. Don’t just drive over it and say ‘oh I think it’s ok’, don’t think about it. Stop and check it out.”
There are groups around the area that talk about, and even map out these pressure ridges and trouble spots.
Craig Oyler, an ice team pro talked about those resources.
“The first place to start is go to the local bait shops. Like here in Rapid City we have the Rooster. That place is a wealth of knowledge,” Oyler stated. “You know, they’re going to be on top of where the safe ice is, but they’re also going to know where the bite is.”
Having a seasoned fisherman go with you is ideal, but there are on-the-ice tools you can use to check conditions yourself.
Lt. Jim Bussell walked through the process of determining if ice is safe.
“Check the ice thickness on your way out, use a spud bar to check the stability of the ice,” Bussell continued. “You can also drill holes on the way out and just make sure that thickness is where it needs to be.”
With cooler temperatures inbound next week, these pressure ridges will start to become less visible. 2 accidents in East river involving iced over lakes on Friday alone highlight the need to be cautious this time of the year on the ice.