Good ice forming on area lakes
This last week we received the cold we were looking for to make good ice, unfortunately we have had the snow come with the cold. When we have cold temperatures, especially below zero degrees with no snow cover, we can make up to an inch of good clear ice every 24 hours. When we get the snow cover on top of the ice, it not only weights the ice down but also acts as an insulation against the cold and slows the ice making down.
Wind can be a big help to clear the snow pack off the ice, and we sure have had enough wind. The problem has been the wet snow does not get blown off the lakes like the lighter snow. We have had the heavy, wet snow that doesn't blow off as easy, and is heavy on the ice we do have.
Most of the smaller lakes that iced over right before Thanksgiving have about six to eight inches of ice now. Some of the bigger and deeper lakes have iced over this last week, and ice conditions will be unpredictable for another week for some of these bodies of water. Check with your local bait shop about the lake you plan on fishing to get an up-to-date ice condition report. Also, remember that ice flexes under stress. Travel on ice creates a wave under the ice that can cause the ice to heave, crack, or open up if you are to heavy, or traveling to fast.
Now that ice fishing will be getting into full swing, I want to remind fisherman to be courteous and respectful on the ice. Do not crowd in on other peoples' portable or permanent fish houses. Do not use someone else's ice fishing holes without asking them. Do not crowd your fishing neighbors with your tip-ups. Do not race past others with your ATV, snowmobile, or vehicle. Slow down on the ice with your car or truck, 15-20 mph should be as fast as you should go on the ice. Help others if they are stuck.
Always clean up your site when you leave. Take your garbage with you and dispose of it properly. We had many junky looking lakes at times last year from people leaving garbage on the ice. I would like to think this was from disrespectful visitors to our area, but I don't think all of the mess was from out-of-towners. As locals, let's show some pride and respect by cleaning up after ourselves and others if they don't. This is my official winter anti-litter campaign! Enough said about that. Lets have a safe and fun year on the ice.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)