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Open water areas showing up on some Iowa lakes

DES MOINES – The combination of high winds and areas kept open by waterfowl or aerators have created large pockets of open water on some lakes and making favorite ice fishing spots either off limits until spring or require extra caution if venturing out.

A recent fishing trip to Lake Anita drove the point home. The open water maintained by waterfowl grew from five acres to almost 15 acres following high winds.

“Waterfowl and wind can definitely erode ice,” said Bryan Hayes, fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in southwest Iowa. “That being said, we still have 10 to 12 inches of ice on most of our lakes and farm ponds and will likely be ice fishing through February.”

Hayes said that once the ice thickness in his region reached about 12 inches, the really cold weather didn’t add much if any ice.

“With no snow cover for most of the winter, you’d think we would be making ice, but we haven’t,” he said. “With each passing day the sun is at a higher angle putting more heat towards our lakes.”
The wintery forecast could put down a thin layer of ice and a blanket of snow on areas that were recently open water.

“I would recommend taking a wide path around any open water areas and check the ice frequently as you go out. Look for recent activity on the ice in the areas you plan to venture out onto. Ice conditions can change rapidly,” Hayes said.

“It’s just a word of caution for anyone heading down here to keep checking ice conditions and don’t assume it will be the same thickness as last week.”

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