The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 27, 2013

Firming up of ice may lead to early open fishing


DANVILLE — Just over a week ago I crossed over the bridge at Lake Vermilion saw no ice whatsoever on the lake; the recent warm-up opened up almost all the water around Danville.

With that being said, the cold weather that moved in this week firmed up some of the ice but also brings up the question, is it safe enough to go on?

I had a reader of this column ask me the other day if I thought the ice would be off early this year and if we would be fishing open water earlier than usual.

Every day we move past the last day of winter, the more the angle of the sun changes, moving more and more from the southern part of the sky toward eventually being overhead during the warm times of the year.

The higher up in the sky the sun moves, the more it affects the melting of the ice.

If you notice, it gets dark the first day of winter about 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon but now it stays light much longer. A big difference will be noted as we near the end of February. As the angle of the sun changes, so does the length of daylight. These two things, along with warmer temperatures, rains, and strong winds can open up a body of water overnight.

February can still be a very cold month and we could yet have some good ice to fish on but, the fact that the waters around here opened up in January makes me wonder if we will get much ice the remainder of the winter.

Time will tell and the groundhog will make his prediction in just a few days. My guess is that we will be fishing open water by the end of February so get your fishing gear ready to go. Be very careful on this late ice as it can be very unpredictable.

Cougar sighting??

I got a lot of response on the so called sighting of the cougar in Indiana. This is not the first time someone has posted such an event on the internet. The last one, a couple of years ago, was traced to a photograph taken in Idaho.

Once I asked about it, I had several readers respond that it was just another hoax.

I’m not sure why someone would go to all the trouble to try to fool everyone but some people have nothing better to do, I guess.

It wouldn’t surprise me, with our large deer herd along with the fact that we have rivers in our area connecting to the Wabash River that we someday might well see a cougar near this area but, until

I see a photo with some local reference, authenticated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources or a Sheriff’s Department, I will be hard to convince.

Sam Van Camp writes about the outdoors on Fridays and Sundays. Call him at 662-6559. Fax: 446-6648. E-mail: