Snow and ice: Waiting for a warmup

Ice angler at Beck’s Pond in Bear. (Submitted photos)

I am still snowed in down here in Sussex County. We were walloped with more than 10 inches of snow in many areas.

The cold temperatures made for fluffy snow that the wind pushed around, creating huge snowdrifts. Challenge accepted to see if the four-wheelers and trucks could break through the drifts; some made it, some did not. That was the extent of my playing in the snow the first day in the outdoors. We wanted to go fishing but there was another issue with that. Everything is frozen over.

In the north that didn’t stop a few people from ice fishing. Our ponds down here are not thick enough to walk on.

We did find some open water at spillways and anywhere there was fast moving water. Masseys Landing had just about every duck in the area floating in the ditch since it was the only open water for the inland bays. We have been playing in a winter wonderland for the past five days. Now we are looking forward to the heat wave coming so we can get out and about.

In Maryland the DNR folks check ice thickness and put up alerts as to which ponds are safe for ice fishing, skating, and even driving snow mobiles across the ice. You can check locally with the ponds you are going to try out and see if they have alerts posted.

The Harbor Of Safe Refuge at the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier.

Some kids up north were clearing ponds to play ice hockey and others were just walking out to cut a hole and drop a line. The ice anglers in Maryland are doing well catching yellow perch. They are fat from eggs for the spawn.

Now that the winds are calmed down boats could get out to do a little tautog fishing but the waterways are still choked with pancake ice. Speaking of which, this is not safe to walk on and I have seen any people who tried to get as close as possible to the lighthouse in the Harbor of Safe Refuge near Cape Henlopen State Park. That is a really good way to die. If that pancake ice shifts or flips, you are going into the water and the ice will close over the space you fell into.

Stay off the tidal ice; it is not safe. It is deceiving because the extreme low tides packed the ice to the bottom.


Duck hunters are doing well if they can find or create open water. That has been a challenge but this warmup will melt a lot of the ice. In some areas it already has. The inland bays were solid ice across the bay and already are melting.

Otter and two foxes stare each other down in a marsh.

Deer are more active looking for food in the snow. You can tell where the corn piles were, the snow is all torn up or gone in large circles. We saw a lot of big does last evening, still looking for that monster buck to fill that last tag.

Snow geese in Sussex county are here in full force as well and have been for a week or more. Flying jerky I hear is fun to shoot.

They are all over the state now by the tens of thousands. Funny but back in the day there were hardly any here and now they are all over the place.

Rich King’s outdoors column runs Thursdays in the Delaware State News.

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