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Brad Laabs: Take notes now to make next year’s ice-off easier

By the time you are reading this article, 99.5 percent of you with permanent fish houses have successfully removed them from the area lakes. For a few, they will be working right up until the Monday deadline for removal for the houses on the lakes that are north of Highways 10 and 34.

For some, procrastination is an art form. If you are a procrastinator, this year’s challenges may help cure you of this character defect! For those of you that have removed your houses over the last few weeks, you have discovered what a challenge getting them off the lakes can be when we get bombarded with snow and wind. Many anglers experienced stress about getting houses off the lakes due to the weather and deteriorated conditions on the lakes since March 1.

We have been challenged even more this last week with additional wet heavy snow, high winds, and considerable drifting over of previously plowed roads on some of the lakes. To complicate things further for some of the late house removals, under the surface of the deep snow we have had slush on many of the lakes. This combination of late season winter and early spring conditions has made it even difficult for V-plows on some of the lakes to get to the last of the houses.

If you were challenged by this year’s conditions, make some notes for yourself to ease the stress and difficulties for next year. The list might include things like skis for the fish house or chains for the truck or 4-wheeler. This type of list will never leave you short of gift ideas for birthdays, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, or Christmas.

Other “notes to self” helpful suggestions for next year may include doing things before hand to lighten up the house before towing it off the lake. Clearing everything out of the house, taking propane tanks off and reducing the tongue weight can help prevent the house form dragging in the deep snow and piling snow up on the front of the house. Shoveling away snow piling up in the front of the house can be a heart attack type of cardio workout, even if you think you’re in shape! It is way easier to work smart, not hard!

Make a list before you go out so you are prepared to deal with problems that occur. Snow shovels, breaker bars, ice chisels, tow rope, tools like wrenches, and most importantly, friends that are willing and able to help, can all shorten the amount of time and effort that goes into the task of house removal. If you run into problems it can be well worth it to pay someone with the right equipment and experience to handle your house removal.

This time of the ice season is usually a prime time for the pan fish anglers. The ice thickness is still great for this time of year. It is just the snow cover that is making lake travel difficult now as we come to the end of the ice fishing season. If you are heading out you may want to stick to snowmobiles, track vehicles, or venture out on foot. Some guys have rigged up so they can pull portables with belts around their waist. They can walk the houses out or pull them out on cross-country skis or snowshoes. These are anglers that get their exercise workout in along with their fishing. Others of us do things like haul our boats south to fish open water now, like I will be doing next week.

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