We have spoken to a couple of folks who have checked out the main part of the lake from several points (both north and south shore) with a spud and who quickly turned back–less than 200 meters out before trouble. Especially with the warm weather coming, it is best to wait. If you must check for yourself, bring a buddy. While we have heard of people fishing from Williams and Berhardts Bay, most are opting to stay away from those areas until the ice gets a bit thicker–the ice gets dangerously thin not far from shore. Reports of 3-4″ of ice off Williams are from points just offshore, moving out another 100 meters get dangerous with much less ice. Our north shore contact went out from a couple of locations and turned back no more than 100 meters out. Worse yet, we are getting reports of people heading out with no spud, early ice as most of us know is highly variable–there is a lot of dangerous ice on Oneida Lake right now. When highly experienced ice fishermen are warning people to stay away from certain areas, take it with more than a grain of salt and remember over the next few days, conditions will not be getting better, but worse.
It is not all doom and gloom though as solid numbers were out on Big Bay yesterday and today reporting up to 5″ of white ice, and others have gone out from Sylvan Beach but are staying fairly close. The bluegill bite on Big Bay was reported as strong. No word yet on the bite off Sylvan Beach, but we did get a report that the ice gets thin quickly offshore. We are above freezing today and will likely stay above freezing tonight staying above the freezing mark until some point on Saturday. Highs tomorrow in the low 40s and mid-40s on Friday with breezy conditions and some rain late Friday. While we are expecting the main part of the lake to remain locked up, it still looks like a while before conditions improve enough to see widespread activity.
Looking at the extended forecast, we are not seeing anything super cold through the end of the month so we expect Big Bay remain busy, things do turn back below freezing next week but the forecast is not showing a super cold spell that would have us set up nice. So it looks like folks will wisely be staying fairly close to shore, working in early ice areas like Big Bay. Make sure to bring and use your spud.