Ice Fishing - Ice Conditions
Home | Equipment | Baits and Lures | Finding Fish | Ice Conditions | Rescue Techniques
Nebraska ICE UP Map
This map represents reports of ice conditions across the state as an open collaboration of contributors from all areas. As the site indicates the "reports are not verified. Please use this information AT YOUR OWN RISK."
Keep in mind that ice conditions can widely vary across any body of water. You MUST use caution while traveling across frozen bodies of water.
Consider wearing a life jacket or float coat when venturing onto thin ice!
With those considerations in mind visit the site by clicking on the thumbnail of the map below to go to the map.
Ice Safety with Daryl Bauer
Every year, those new to the ice-fishing game are haunted by the same
question -- how much and what kind of ice will safely support anglers and their
The safe load ice will bear is not dependent entirely on its thickness, but there are
some reliable rules of thumb. A minimum of three inches of clear, blue lake ice, and
preferably four inches, will support a single angler, and five inches will hold
several anglers in single file.
Eight inches is needed for safe operation of a snowmobile. Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear lake ice, so anglers should
double the minimum thickness figures when encountering such conditions.
They should also bear in mind that ice weakens with age, and late in the
season, when it turns dark and gets "honeycombed," it's time to quit for
the season. A cold snap sometimes halts the deterioration, but honeycombed
ice will never refreeze to its original strength.
Any lake with moving water in it, whether from an inlet canal, springs, groundwater seepages or an outlet,
should be regarded with skepticism. Water movement, no matter how slight, retards freezing, often leaving
hard-to-detect thin spots.
Some lakes in Nebraska merit special mention in this regard, although with extra vigilance they are fishable.
Lakes along the canal systems in the Platte Valley between Sutherland and Johnson Lake have inlet canals and
out-lets that move water all winter, so ice is suspect in some parts of these lakes.
In addition to these areas, Sutherland Reservoir has another potential hazard:
warm-water discharges from a powerplant.
The cooling pond and its outlet are in
the southeastern corner of the lake, while the inlet is at the southwest,
both well away from the good perch-fishing areas located at the north and northwest portions.
At Lake Ogallala, water flows along the outlet of Lake McConaughy's Kingsley Dam to the North Platte
River. Moving water is always a cause for concern in that area. In addition, a hydroelectric facility at Kingsley Dam
operates to meet peak power demands, creating daily fluctuations in the level of Lake Ogallala.
How great these fluctuations
are and whether they affect the ice varies with conditions. Lake McConaughy sometimes causes weak spots in the ice
along the north and west shores of Lake Ogallala.
Sandpit lakes have similar problems with seepage from groundwater or immediately
Groundwater usually flows in the same direction as the nearby river but at a much slower
rate. Seepage and the resulting weak ice generally occur at the upstream end of the pit. On pits that form the Interstate
80 Chain of Lakes, for example, the seepage areas and resulting weak ice are usually along the west shorelines. In
addition, pits often contain springs, which cause weakening.
In general, be suspicious of any discolored ice. Imbedded materials, such
as weeds or logs, also weaken ice, and large objects in or on the ice, such as
abandoned duck blinds or ice shanties, can absorb the sun's heat and weaken
ice. Ice near shore may also be weakened by heat from the ground.