Despite a couple of long cold snaps, Lake Winnipesaukee is still not entirely frozen. A fly-over by the civil air patrol last weekend revealed a large patch of open water and unstable ice stretching from Gilford to Moultonborough. A large patch of open water sits in between Lake Shore Park and Welch Island, and questionable ice extends all the way to Long Island. This section of the lake is called “the Broads,” which is typically last to freeze.
“You really need a super calm night of course with the cold temperatures and those two things haven’t been occurring up here this winter so far,” says Don Miller, a large lake biologist with Fish and Game, and long-time lake watcher.
While he can’t say for sure, Miller thinks substantial rains in early January may still be draining from the lake. “That sets up a lot of current flow in the lake itself, and if you have a current flow along with some wind, that makes it really hard for that water to catch and freeze,” he says.
Fish and Game advises against driving on the ice, and recommends anyone on foot check its thickness periodically. This weekend a pond hockey tournament is taking place in Meredith, and next weekend is the Meredith Rotary Club’s Fishing Derby which gives away over $20,000 dollars in prizes.
Miller says traditionally the Broads were safe for foot travel by late winter, but in recent years anglers have often been out of luck.
“Certainly years ago when I was a kid in the lakes Region, a normal winter would see 24 to 30 inches of ice on the lake,” he remembers, “Quite frankly I haven’t seen that in years up here, probably the last 15 years or so.”