Brad Laabs: Anglers — get these dates on your calendars
A few important dates for ice anglers occur over the next few weeks in our area. The first date to take note of is the close of the inland water season for walleye and northern pike. This Sunday, Feb. 23 at midnight, marks the end of the ice season for walleyes and northern pike. The season for them will open again for our inland waters on Saturday May 10. Hopefully this year we will be ice free by the opener!
The walleye and northern seasons will continue on the Minnesota boarder waters with Canada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The Minnesota/Wisconsin boarder waters include the St. Louis, St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. The walleye/sauger/bass/northern seasons close March 2 on the St. Louis and St. Croix, but remain continuously open on the Mississippi.
The Minnesota/North Dakota border water also has a continuous season for walleye and northern.
The Minnesota/South Dakota border waters most notably include Big Stone, Traverse, and Hendricks Lakes and the seasons will be open until Feb. 28 (and will open early again on April 26).
The Minnesota/Canada border waters include Lake of the Woods, Rainy River, Rainy Lake, Namakan, Sand Point, Little Vermilion, and Saganaga. These waters remain open for walleye and northern pike fishing until April 14.
The seasons will continue in our area for perch, sunfish, and crappies. We will also soon be upon tullibee time through the ice for anglers in our area. We still have plenty of ice. The couple of thaw days have helped knock down some of the snow cover, making travel a little easier, especially when we are back into a colder pattern (that is our forecast for the next 10 days!). Sorry we were all teased with the couple of thaw days that made us crave some spring weather!
Other important dates coming up for our area include the ice shelter removal dates. This year, the shelters south of Highways 10 and 34 will need to be off by Monday, March 3. For the lakes north of highways 10 and 34, the ice shelters will not need to come off the lakes until Monday, March 17.
When you remove your ice houses it is important to remember that you cannot leave them at the accesses and retrieve them later. Get them off and get them gone to save yourself any problems. You have some time, but now is the time to start planning. Make sure you have some help lined up, make your plan, and be prepared.
Last year, many shelter owners both for the south dates and the north dates got surprised by bad winter storms that made the removals a challenge. Take advantage of good conditions to get your ice houses off the lakes with minimal stress. If you were one of the procrastinators last year, I hope you learned your lesson about the risks and frustrations that procrastination can cause. If you still struggle with this defect, at least don’t let it carry over to this area of your life. For some, like myself, that help with the difficult shelter removals, we would appreciate your growth and maturity in this area to reduce our frustration as well!
For some, like last year’s surprises, it wasn’t just some of the procrastinators, it was the curveballs thrown by Mother Nature at all the wrong times for anglers trying to get houses off some of the lakes. It is sometimes hard to count on the forecast. We live in an area that can be full of weather surprises at times.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)