There are three areas of the lake which can be counted on to be dynamic and must be scouted on foot: The inlet, The fangs, and Chaney’s Narrows. These areas often change hour by hour. In addition, the lake throws up wild cards at every moment: open water, wide cracks, drain holes of all sizes appear without rhyme or reason. When you are new to a particular area, you need to scout it slowly until you know it completely.
A final word about ice safety: When you step out on the ice, check that you have the four “C”s. these are absolutely unnegociable. CAP: some sort of helmet. consider yourself unstably moving over cement. CLAWS: ice picks clipped around your neck, outside clothing. CELL: in a zip-lock bag in a high chest pocket CLEATS: grabby boots, until you don skis or skates.
There is a 5th “C” which, frankly, many of us interpret differently: CLOTHING. for me personally it too is unnegociable. The central question is: could I survive 45 minutes in 28 degree water with what I am wearing? My four trips through the ice over the years, each time with improved clothing, have left me willing to get sweaty and clammy in a wet-suit bottom, and USCG float coat top–all season long. My last “bath” left me floating chest high, and when I clawed back above the ice, there was no hurry to warm up. I always keep remembering, even in the safer middle part of the season: there is always thin ice somewhere.