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Brad Laabs column: Get your poop in a scoop and clean up the lake, anglers!

The last couple of years this time of year (as we clear fish houses off the lakes and near the end of the ice season), I have written about my frustration with the messes left on the ice. This year, our area lakes seem to have been left in better shape than the past several years. I know several others have stepped up to clean up after others besides me, maybe it was worse and some others got to the junk before I checked. This year, the Perham area lakes were left a mess. A Perham area guide posted a picture on Facebook of a trailer they filled up of propane cylinders, bags of poop, plywood pieces, sheetrock, beer cans, wood blocks (including treated wood), and other assorted garbage. He said: "We have to do better." I agree! I am not a huge Facebook guy, but I re-posted his picture and comment. Maybe social media can heighten awareness and move us toward more respect for the environment, others, and ourselves. How can you leave your crap with no guilt, shame or embarrassment? It is hard for me to wrap my head around how people can behave this way. Especially people who like to fish!

This problem has not just been an issue in our area, this has occurred all over the state. The high population lakes with many ice anglers like Red Lake, Lake of the Woods, Winni, Leech, and Mille Lacs, have put dumpsters at the public access points. These dumpsters are full at the end of a weekend, and there is still sometimes garbage left on the ice for others to deal with.

The dumpsters have helped considerably, as have small signs, and reminder posts on fishing information sites. I am not sure if it is the Communities, Lake Associations, fishing clubs, or resorts (or a combination) picking up the tab for the dumpsters, but they help. It may be a good idea for our high pressured lakes in the Lake Park, DL, and Perham areas to start putting out dumpsters.

If you have some good ideas, or our willing to step up to help problem solve this for next year's ice season, please email me as I am willing to be part of problem solving this issue. Email me at: It sure beats a few of us running around, picking up after others, and feeling very angry and frustrated while we do.

This Monday, fish houses north of highways 10, 34, 2, and 200 need to be removed. You can still put houses out for the day, you just won't be able to leave them on the ice unattended. Conditions are very good for getting those houses off now with this last cold snap. We still have 15-20 inches of ice on area lakes, so we will still have a couple more weeks of the ice season. Crappies, sunfish, perch, and tullibees are still continuing to get caught by ice anglers. Ice conditions are inconsistent so travel with wheels is recommended. As always in the late ice season, use caution and common sense. Let's be safe out there.

If you haven't noticed yet, rivers are opening up, the delta areas where rivers and creeks dump in are opening up, and not far south of here, the ponds have started to open up. This latest cold snap is just a frustration after the big tease of spring a week or so ago. We are transitioning to spring. Days are longer, the sun is more powerful, the nights aren't as cold, and the ground is showing. We have had a significant number of ducks, geese, and eagles migrate back already. They always seem to know more about what is going on, and what is about to happen in nature than we do. So I am sticking with the prediction I made last week. We are going to have another early ice out!

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