Almost all substances contract as they get colder.  There’s one notable exception and it enables life.

River ice

Ice expands and floats

As water cools, it gets denser. As the temperature continues to drop, cold surface water sinks to the bottom.  When the lake’s surface water reaches 39 degrees Fahrenheit something amazing happens.   As weather continues to get colder it expands. When it turns to ice it expands even more! That’s why ice floats. If it didn’t, ponds and lakes would completely freeze and nothing could live in a solid block of ice.

Ice floating on a lake moderates the temperature of the water beneath it. Although the air temperature may be below zero above the ice the water beneath it is never below freezing. That’s why fish, frogs, and other aquatic organisms can not only live but also bask in the relative warmth of the water while terrestrial animals are forced to survive in arctic cold.

This phenomenon makes ice fishing possible. The following blog was written by a friend who took her children fishing one cold morning.

Ice Fishing With Kids

Story and photos of people
by: Kelly Carr

“They weren’t budging. Even with the overhead light flipped on, gentle shoulder shakes, and promises of the fun they would have, my kids feigned sleep.  It was 7:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, and it had been about a year since our last ice fishing attempt.  This particular day was the sixth of a seven day stretch of the new shared-custody arrangement I had with my daughter and son’s father.  As if putting them through a divorce wasn’t guilt-inducing enough, now I was trying to drag them out of the security of their warm beds.  My mind drifted back to the present – if I could just get them going, I knew they would have a great time.  So, I played the “Let’s Get Donuts On The Way” card.   Sleeping forms shifted, eyelids sprung open.  We were out the door in fifteen minutes, teeth unbrushed, bedhead tucked under stocking caps, and feet snuggled into a double layer of socks.”

 Donut Bribery works!

“I’ve tried to raise kids who feel comfortable in nature.  Driving to the park for the ice fishing clinic, the car filled with the smell of maple frosting. I mused silently upon some of our past outdoor adventures.  We have been geocaching newbies, tramping at a roadside park, looking for a “small bison container”, which, as it turned out, was NOT a buffalo figurine after all!  We’ve packed picnics into cemeteries, and talked oaks and stones and stories while we ate.

“A voice from behind jostled me back to the present.  I passed a cappuccino to waiting hands in the backseat and then pointed up to a hillside, “Look – a cemetery!”  My daughter protested, “Not today, Mom! Ugh!”  You win some, you lose some.

The Outdoor Thing

“We wound through the park to the shore. After a quick presentation by a naturalist and distribution of fishing guides, bait and poles, we were set.  My kids chose spots not too far away from their last year’s spots, got settled in on mats and sipped from their gas station cups while waiting for spring-bobbers to bob.  The sun made things sparkle, and as I looked at them handling things and sitting in peace, I knew I had nothing to feel guilty about.  Tummies full, bundled in warm layers, taking a chance on adventure, we were doing this “outdoors thing”.  And we were finding our new “normal” while doing it.  They each pulled two fish out of the water that morning before asking to go back to the car to listen to music.  I consider that as success.

Nice Catch!

Smiles

Ice Fishing success!

A warm bed is no match for the coolness of catching a panfish in winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I had a few moments to myself out on the ice, to take it all in.  Even when life changes, there are constants we can count on.  The fish may not always bite, but while the sky is above and the earth (or ice) is below, I am a mother who loves her kids.”

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