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Wind is Blowing

We live in Nebraska.  The wind blows.  If you spend any time at all fishing, you know the wind has a huge impact on fish location and activity.  But, what about underneath the ice?  With a cap of ice to protect from the elements, does wind affect fish behavior?

That is a question that Nebraskaland editor Jeff Kurrus posed to me.  Jeff loves to hunt and fish and whenever we happen to be in the office at the same time and cross paths there is usually a lengthy discussion.  Jeff boiled one of those down to an article in the current issue of Nebraskaland, “Does Wind Affect Fish Under the Ice?”


Read the whole article here, don’t worry, it is short, Nebraskaland Jan-Feb 2023.  Turn back to page 16.

Believe me I realize ice conditions have deteriorated in parts of Nebraska this past week, if not plain disappeared.  You better believe the wind plays a role in that too.  In fact, I have always said there is nothing worse for ruining good ice than the wind.  When there is a little bit of water on the surface of the ice or a hole opens up, the wind starts pushing that water and that eats ice.  Warm temperatures absolutely melt ice, but nothing eats it like the wind.

If you are going to ride late ice as long as possible like I do, be aware of the wind and what it does.  Be really careful if you are on the ice downwind of open water.  Remember, the wind starts moving water and that can do some weird things.  On late ice, downwind of open water, I have seen additional spots start to open in a matter of minutes .  These spots might be hundreds of yards from any other open water.  You gotta be very careful and you have to check ice conditions continually.  Use that spud bar!

At first ice, when there are still spots of open water that have not capped over, the wind has a big influence then too.  Jeff’s article mentions the wind mixing the water to the point of decreased water clarity.  I have seen that happen.  The water can be so turbid at first ice that the fish will not bite.  The best thing to do is wait a week or two.  Once there is a cap of ice, there will be stability and turbidity will settle.  Besides turbid water, wind will continue to cool the water until it caps over.  It can push that super-cooled water downwind and again that can kill a first-ice bite.

Oh, and one other tip I should mention as it relates to ice-fishing and the wind. . . . Keep your back to the wind!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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