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Ice conditions on the decline -- be careful
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Brad Laabs Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Add this last week to the list of goofy weather weeks we have had this winter. We got more snow, more cold, a warm up, and another cold snap with a couple of high wind days in the mix just to keep it all interesting.

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I ran into a couple of slush areas on a couple different lakes this last week. Ice thickness is about 24 to 28 inches and the ice is very saturated. It is best to stay on well-traveled trails or roads at this point. The drifting, thawing and freezing has created some hard pack over deep snow -- sometimes hiding slush underneath -- and can be a combination that can lead to you getting stuck on the lake if you are not careful. We will get more thawing days even if the temps stay cold, just because of the power of the sun as we get to this time of year. I think we all also enjoy the lengthening of our daylight hours as we move toward March. Make sure you have shovels, tow rope and a cell phone with you when you venture out.

The bite did still seem OK for me. Not great, but not bad either. It is frustrating at times to have the camera down and watch fish ignore your offerings, or to watch the fish on the locator come into your hole, watch your bait or nip at it just enough to tease and not satisfy you. It is a patient waiting game, and then, for whatever reason, they decide it is time to bite. I think these are the experiences that keep us out on the chase.

We have come to that time of the winter were it is now time to start thinking about getting your permanent fish houses off the lakes. Anybody with houses out south of Hwy 10 and 34 need to have houses removed by March 1. If you are north of 10 and 34, you have an additional two weeks.

Walleyes and Northern pike cannot be kept after Feb. 28, as the season closes for inland waters. Our area will continue to produce for pan fish after Feb. 28, but if you want Walleyes or Northern Pike, your best bet is to head to Lake of the Woods. This is the time of winter when we start to see groups of fisherman head to LOW out of Warroad to get on the big Pike bite. Get your bait here before you leave. We have better bait at a better price locally than what you will find up there. We still have at least a month of ice fishing left so enjoy.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)

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