Many of the phone calls Thursday to Garry Nelson’s bait-and-tackle shop in Diamond Point focused on one subject: the prospects of ice fishing on Lake George.
As the region plunged into near-record cold early Thursday, those who like to fish on frozen lakes and ponds were hoping the favorite lake of many upstate anglers could be added to the list of waters ready for hard-water fishing.
But Nelson, owner of The Outdoorsman on Route 9N, said he saw little ice on the lake early Thursday and the main body of the lake was "wide open," although heavy with steam rising from the open water into the frigid air.
A webcam showed thin ice on Kitchel Bay in Dresden, and Nelson said the south end of the lake had a skim early Thursday, although a webcam hosted by NewsChannel 13 seemed to show open water there late Thursday afternoon.
The coldest weather in nearly two years had teeth chattering and cars struggling to start early Thursday, with the mercury dipping in parts of the southern Adirondacks to 20 below zero and lower.
But it looks to be only a two-day cold snap, with warmer temperatures likely Friday and into the weekend, according to Tom Wasula, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.
It was bitter while it lasted, however.
All of the Glens Falls region recorded low temperatures well below zero, with figures provided by Wasula showing temperatures as low as 21
below zero in Indian Lake, 18 below at Warren County airport and 16 below in Fort Edward.
The last cold snap to that degree of frigidity occurred in late January 2011, when parts of the region saw temperatures approaching 30 degrees below zero.
The record for the day in Glens Falls was 21 below zero, set in 1980.
"It was cold but not a record," Wasula said.
It’s hard to believe any water could avoid freezing in that sort of subzero cold, but most of Lake George was still open as of Thursday morning.
Persistent winds keep the water moving and hinder ice-making on Lake George.
The main body of Lake George historically does not freeze until mid- to late-January, weeks after smaller waters freeze.
"The main lake never freezes until late," Nelson said.
Sometimes, the lake doesn’t freeze at all, which is what happened last winter, when only a few bays on the lake developed significant ice. That made for a short ice-fishing season on the lake.
A frozen Lake George is a good boost for the area’s winter economy, as ice fishermen and women from around the Northeast
come to the lake to catch the lake’s prodigious yellow perch, lake trout and northern pike.
For now, they will have to be satisfied with offerings on smaller waters such as Brant Lake, Loon Lake and Cossayuna Lake.