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Get fishing: Polar vortex helped create great ice

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Get fishing: Polar vortex helped create great ice
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Ice conditions on area lakes are in excellent shape.

The “polar vortex” we were in the last couple of weeks that brought frigid temperatures helped us make great ice. Some slushing that had occurred after the snow that initially followed our freeze up, has been resolved by the super cold we just finished enduring.

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We have not had any significant snow to follow the initial base we have, so travel on the ice is not a problem on most lakes. The last couple of weeks reduced the number of ice anglers out chasing fish, but with the break in the weather, area lakes will see a significant increase in angler activity.

With the super cold weather, I was reminded about a few things that make a difference when dealing with severe, or even dangerous winter conditions.

The first, everyone  already knows about, but needs to be said anyway — dress in layers. Having a base layer of thermal long underwear is a great start. Fleece and wool are also great for layering, and make sure you have a windproof layer on also.

One benefit of layering, is you can take layers off if you will be exerting energy, like banking snow around a fish house, shoveling, dragging a portable, or auguring holes (especially with a hand auger). Sweating in your clothes out in brutal conditions can get you extremely cold in a hurry.

Layer up after you are done exerting yourself. Have proper gear for the conditions, including waterproof and insulated boots, hats and gloves/mittens. When conditions get like they were, facemasks can make a huge difference for comfort when you need to be in the elements for any length of time.

If you don’t have a facemask, pull the hood of your coat up over your hat. The hood helps trap warm air from your head in a zone around your face. Wind is always the biggest enemy for comfort. We all know that 20 degrees below is cold, but 20 below with a 20 mph wind out in the open on a lake is brutal!

I will take 10 below with no wind, over even 20 above with a 20 mph wind when out in open conditions.

When we contend with these kinds of temps, you can’t take anything for granted. Even if you are headed out to your permanent fish house that is already warm, take proper gear. Things don’t work right in weather like we just got over.

Things like vehicles not starting after sitting outside the fish house, trucks stalling, four-wheel drives won’t engage and you can get stuck, propane tanks and regulators freeze up, etc., etc., etc.,  can occur during a “polar vortex.”

I just had to use this term “polar vortex” a few times… sounds cool, I had never heard the term before, but it got thrown around a lot this last couple of weeks. It’s not like we haven’t had these kinds of long lasting cold fronts before!  

Anyway, as you are reading this, I took my own advice of last week (about taking advantage of close premier fishing opportunities) and am up fishing Lake of the Woods and Red Lake this weekend. With the break in the weather, I thought it would be a good time to celebrate with a special fishing trip.

I didn’t fish during this period of our “polar vortex.”  I took advantage of the good reason to stay inside, and Mary and I remodeled our kitchen. Now that is done, the weather is better, and it is time to get back fishing.

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