Trout Talk

Strong, scary, powerful

Why you don’t want to wade onto icy river edges during the thaw

The ice jam release you see here comes courtesy of our friends at the Roaring Fork Conservancy ( on the upper Roaring Fork River here in Colorado a couple weeks ago. Ice jam releases are incredibly dangerous for both boaters and anglers. You should look for ice jam warnings before any float or wade trip, as there’s no outrunning them and the speed at which they arrive is no joke. 

“In the northern hemisphere, northerly flowing rivers tend to have more ice jams because the upper, more southerly reaches thaw first and the ice gets carried downstream into the still-frozen northerly part,” according to Wikipedia. “There are three physical hazards of ice jams. The ice floe can form a dam that floods the areas upstream of the jam. This occurred during the 2009 Red River Flood and the 2009 Alaska floods. The second type of hazard occurs as the ice jam breaks apart, and a sudden surge of water breaks through flooding areas downstream of the jam. Such a surge occurred on the St. Lawrence River in 1848. The third hazard is that the ice buildup and final drive may damage structures in or near the river and boats in the river.” 

Enjoy the video. But keep your head up this late winter and early spring when venturing out fishing or boating.