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Mild conditions, good ice make fishing enjoyable

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Happy holidays during this unusual stretch of unseasonably warm weather we have been having. I don't remember the last time we didn't have a white Christmas.

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We have had another good week of ice development and we should not have any problems with lake slushing this ice fishing season due to the thick and clear ice with no snow weighing it down. You will start to see vehicle traffic out now on area lakes. This last week we have started to see the permanent houses start making their way onto area lakes. It has been beautiful weather for the use of portable fish houses or just sitting on a bucket on the ice. The way the forecast looks, we may be able to continue fishing in mild temps well into the New Year.

Little Detroit, as usual, has started to become a little ice community. Lots of reports from the lake of good crappie, sunfish, perch, and northern action with occasional walleye activity in the weeds as well.

For those of you that use Little Detroit as your ice fishing destination, you owe your thanks for the ease of access onto the lakes to a nameless group of volunteers that chiseled and cleared a smooth path onto the lake on Monday afternoon. Thank you guys, whoever you are, for what you did for others. With the ice ridge at the beach, what they did was no easy task. Many of the area lakes will have similar ice access issues to deal with due to the freeze, thaw, freeze, wind and re-freeze that occurred to start the hardwater season. Ice chisels, chainsaws, and manual labor can clear a smooth path to the lakes that have the ice ridge problems at the lake access. If they aren't dealt with, those ridges can hang vehicles or icehouses up as they enter or leave the lakes. Ice ridges can be especially challenging if coming onto, or leaving a lake when it is dark.

You will also need to pay attention to ice heaves in the middle of some lakes. Ice heaves can be very inconsistent in ice thicknesses. They need to be checked before crossing. You may at times need to travel out of your way to cross at a safe area.

With the ice conditions we are dealing with this season you may want to invest in a pair of ice cleats. They are easy to put on your boots, and will give you good traction on the ice to prevent slips and falls. They can make life much easier if pulling a portable by hand when we have glare ice. When we have some snow cover on the ice, footing isn't as much of an issue. When walking on the ice, even with the ice thickness we have, it is never a bad idea to have 16-penny nails in your pocket. They make some commercial ice claws/picks with handles in case you fall through the ice, you can dig into the ice to pull yourself out. Nails are the old school, cheap way to go.

Remember always, safety first. It is a good time to start thinking about your New Year's resolution as it relates to you and your fishing, I know I am. I may share a few ideas next week.

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

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