Brad Laabs: Use caution on ice; get ready for open water
Amazing what a difference a week can make. We have eliminated most of the snow and the snow on top of the lakes. Now the sun’s energy and the warm days can work on getting our lakes ice free. When we get rid of the snow and have more brown ground, it helps us warm more quickly and maintain more heat. The nights also stay warmer after the ground has been warmed.
One of the big benefits to getting rid of our snow is also the ground warming the shoreline at the lake edges. The warm shoreline helps melt the edges of the lake. When the ice gets pulled away from the shoreline, the sun and wind can really work on getting rid of the lake ice.
We still have 24-30 inches of ice on area lakes and it will take some time for Mother Nature to get rid of all these massive ice cubes.
Many pan fish lovers have continued to enjoy the late season ice success. Reports from all over area lakes indicate some tremendous crappie and sunfish action over the last week or two. That should continue for another week or more. It is important to stay on top of the ever changing ice conditions so make sure you check with your local bait shop to get the most up-to date ice reports. Rain, wind, sun, and the warm days can change ice conditions very quickly.
Water on top of the ice also helps break the ice down. The weight on the ice can help sink the ice and it can deteriorate from underneath fairly quickly. When the ice starts to get soft and honey-combed it is becoming weak ice.
Always err on the side of caution when fishing the late ice season. The water is extremely cold and it can be difficult to get yourself out of weak ice.
Last week I talked about getting all your ice gear properly stored. So now is a good time to start getting yourself ready for the upcoming open water season. This “tweener” time between the late ice and before the lakes open up, is a good time to get your boat and gear organized and ready. Make sure boat batteries are charged and in good shape. Make sure battery connections don’t have any corrosion. Clean them if they do have corrosion as they won’t take a charge well or give you the energy you need to start your motor or work your power trim.
A set of motor muffs can allow you to hook up the garden hose to your motor to make sure it starts now, rather than waiting until the lakes are open and getting a surprise at the landing.
Make sure the gas is good so the motor can start and run smooth. Make a list so you remember to put the electronics, landing net, life jackets, fire extinguisher, rods, anchor, and everything else you will need in your boat. Even multi-year experienced veterans at this early season boat preparation have been known to forget something (or two).
The “opener” is only a month away. It will come quickly now as the changes of spring and into summer will be significantly more noticeable in the next few weeks. The long drawn out brutal winter is already starting to fade.
I have also noticed an improved change in human behavior locally as the weather has started to improve. Or maybe it is me just seeing things differently as my attitude has started to improve. Doesn’t matter, things are looking up for this open water addict.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)