Once again I found myself scrolling through posts on Facebook for ice fishing, wishing I was out there on the ice instead of at work. I ran across this bizarre picture of a hole in the ice that didn't look like something I'd seen before. It didn't appear to be from an ice fisherman. There wasn't a crack, and nothing punctured through the ice. I reached out to the person who snapped the photo.

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Jackie took the photo right offshore of their place on Rush Lake near Clear Lake, Minnesota. They went to sleep one night and the hole wasn't there. They woke up in the morning and the hole appeared. It happened in about 4 feet of water. Jackie took to social media asking if anyone had been ice fishing there, or know what caused this.

I've been ice fishing for many years and I have never seen this. I've seen ice holes that were drilled that flooded out, but they don't look like this picture. This is definitely something else. Some were quick to say it was a spring, but there could be another explanation.

Jackie Fallon
Jackie Fallon
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I reached out to Nicole Biagi with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and asked if she knew anything. Of course, it is impossible to tell for sure, but she had a pretty good guess of what it could be.

It’s impossible to know for sure, but based on the photos, I would say it could be a gas hole or perhaps a spring. Maybe the reason they are seeing the hole this year unlike other years is due to the heavy snowfall and overall thinner ice.

Information on the Minnesota DNR's website about gas bubbles looks like a good fit. The ice this year has been pretty terrible, and lakes have been very slushy. I actually tried to fish on Rush Lake earlier this season and gave up because of the slushy conditions and poor ice quality.

Jackie also said that it happened in the middle of a snow storm. The extra weight of the snow overnight could have been enough to cause the hole to form.

The image the DNR uses on their website looks similar.

Minnesota DNR
Minnesota DNR
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How do gas bubbles form?

The Department of Natural Resources outlines what normally causes this phenomenon:

Gas holes tend to form in the same areas each year, often near stream inlets where vegetation and debris collect or in shallow water with heavy aquatic vegetation. If you are not familiar with the area, talk to the local experts to learn if there are any known gas holes on the lake.

This is the first year this has happened in this area, according to Jackie and her family. As Nicole explained, it's likely that the weight of the snow and the thin ice contributed to this hole in the ice. She warns us to be careful, especially this year of ice conditions. Educate yourself on ice thickness guidelines, and wear the proper safety gear while on the ice.

Minnesota DNR
Minnesota DNR
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