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Thread: Why so much water?

  1. #1
    Member ChuckD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Eagle River, AK

    Default Why so much water?

    OK, I'm a noob to ice fishing.
    We tried fishing Otter lake a few days ago and there was a ton of slushy water buried under the snow.
    Clearing away the snow to drill a hole we were in about 3" of water. There was still about 12" of ice under us but shouldn't it all be frozen?
    More importantly, is it dangerous?
    If not, do you drill the hole and then repack snow all around the holes?
    Sorry for the silly questions from the noob.

  2. #2

    Default Overflow

    What you are experiencing is called overflow. This happens for a number of reason: The weight of the snow pushes down on the ice forcing the water up through openings such as warm springs or even ice fishing holes; maybe there is a creek flowing into the lake and flowing over the top of the ice; it is sometimes caused by winter rains. The snow on top insulates the water and prevents it from freezing.

    Generally it is not dangerous or hazardous, BUT... here are a few cautions:

    If riding a snowmaching through overflow on a cold day, this will get into the track suspension and freeze up, thereby disabling you. If landing with a ski plane, this will freeze to the bottom of the skiis, thereby either generating much drag or freezing the plane down to the lake. Sometimes there will be layers of ice and you never know when you break through one layer what is underneath.

    These recent snows likely will increase/hide the overflow problem, so expect to find more and more. But, because we had such an early freeze and so little snow, I am expecting that most of the ice under the overflow will be sound. There are always exceptions however.

    So, in a nut shell, be cautious, but go fishing. If you are drilling where others have drilled, you shouldn't have any problems.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Knik-Fairview, Alaska


    I don't think the weight of the snow has a lot of effect on it. But when a river or lake freezes over, it's like having a tight lid on it. As water freezes, it expands. As the layer of ice grows in thickness, it's growing on the bottom side where the water is ...and expanding the 'lid' on the river or lake downward as it grows in thickness. The pressure build up will break the ice and cause the water to flush up and out upwelling or overflow (depending on who's describing it.) I've drilled ice fishing holes and have seen water come shooting out and remain at 6" deep on top of the ice ...always wear boots that are both insulated well enough AND are water proof. The last thing you need when out on the ice is wet feet...


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008


    It is the snow on top that creates the problem. The weight pushes down and the water comes up. That adds even more water and you have problems. I worked for a resort that ran fish houses for rent and when a big snow was coming we used to go out and block up the houses so they would not freeze in. Also the snow insulates the water and makes it harder to freeze it so the slush under the snow sticks around for a while. if we missed a house the water would come into the house and because there was no snow it would freeze as solid as a rock and that sucked getting it chisled out.


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