Water release from reservoir compromises formation of safe ice
“It’s dangerous.”

That’s what officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Marion Reservoir and Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks are telling anxious ice anglers. In fact, a portion of the reservoir, near the outlet gates on the dam, will be closed to fishing. It’s been bitter cold for almost a week, but ice still isn’t safe. And to make matters worse, water is being released through the gates, which keeps water flowing and prevents safe ice for forming.

Veteran ice anglers know that at least 4 inches of hard ice is necessary to support people. If ATVs and other equipment are used, wait for more than 4 inches. Safe ice is formed when temperatures remain well below freezing for an extended period of time. However, when reservoir gates are open, the moving water creates dangerous pockets of thin ice no matter how cold the air temperature is. An area with thin ice won’t be evident on the surface – you won’t know until you step through it.

Marvin Peterson, KDWP natural resource officer, tested the ice this week.

“The ice on the reservoir isn’t safe, and they will be releasing water through the gates for at least two to three weeks,” Peterson warned. “Fishing will be prohibited in an area in front of the gates by posted notice. Anglers will need to wait until mid-January before checking Marion’s ice. No fish is worth a fall into icy water.”

As a general rule, ice anglers should avoid ice over moving water, and they should always make a series of test holes near shore before venturing out. A fall into frigid water can turn deadly in a matter of minutes.