February 6, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

My wife often tells me I'm skating on thin ice but this past weekend I truly was. Okay I wasn't skating on the ice, but I was trying to get in one final fix of ice fishing as the unusually warm weather was causing me fits. Everyone else was in a good mood as if Spring was making an early arrival but not me. I was cussing the sunshine and the warm temperatures because I knew that it was the end of the ice. Toss in that little rain shower we had and the frozen ponds were doomed.

Still the forecast alone couldn't deter me from one final excursion. Sure the thermostat was 20 degrees above freezing but just three days earlier I had been sitting on top of no less than 12 inches of ice at Lake Show-Me working on a limit of crappie. Granted that was an oddity, as the ice was twice as thick at the lake as it had been on any other pond I had visited, but you would still think it would take more than 48 hours of spring temps to clear the ice.

Of course there is a big difference between getting rid of the ice and simply making it unfit for travel. And even when it was safe to walk across I had reports that the ice still was sending mixed signals. Two fishermen told me that on at least one pond all they had to do was push down on the auger and it would slide down through the ice without a single turn. I had to question these guys' sanity after they closed out the story by telling that the ice was okay on the other side of the pond. You see if my auger had went through the ice like a hot knife through butter, you can sure bet it would have been less than two seconds later that I would have been putting said auger back in the truck along with my petrified body.

But these guys faired better than one local ATV owner. Reports were that ice on some of the sloughs just west of town wasn't quite as good as it appeared resulting in a brand new four-wheeler going for a swim. Of course it was all because of some troublesome beavers and had nothing to do with the driver.

Fortunately I have no horror tales to relay as I never made it onto the ice. I'd like to say that my wisdom and sensibility prevailed but actually my wife had me chained to the wall at the office finishing a little construction project that had been sitting around unfinished for a year or so. It was a sad day at my home Sunday evening when I finally removed my fishing tent from the back of my truck and put it away in the barn for storage. Who knows, this is Missouri and our weather is so unpredictable, maybe the tent will get recalled. Then again, I just ordered a few hundred wax worms the week before the thaw, so the odds

are stacked against me. My wife must have seen the bill for those little guys that are just wasting away on the shelf because she keeps telling me they are a good source of protein.

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