Ice thickness on some of the smaller, shallower area lakes are at a point that plowing with trucks is starting to happen.

Opening up plowed roads on some lakes is making for much easier access onto the lakes. You may have noticed plowed roads out on Little Detroit have also made for easy access for some to pull wheel and skid houses out to community fishing spots.

Some lakes are still stuck at 10-12 inches of ice (due to the amount of snow cover and drifting) and flooding and slushing is an issue on those lakes.

Sticking to plowed roads, plowed out areas, or packed trails on the lakes is still a good idea. Some anglers have been frustrated with getting stuck in snow and slush, or getting stuck after breaking through the top hard pack surface of the snow on top of the ice.

Ice ranges of 15-18 and inches and building on Little Detroit will make it no problem for the Breakfast Rotary to set up for next week’s big Poles ‘n Holes fishing derby.

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The derby, set for next Saturday on Little Detroit, has great attendance, and seems to grow every year. The prizes are amazing. The ice will cooperate, and it looks like the weather will make for a great family event this year, if the forecast holds. The gates open at 9 a.m. and the derby will start at noon. Posters and information about the derby have been out for a long time, but you can also go online for more information, or even to register for the event.

We probably have about six weeks of ice fishing left for the ice season in our area, with a good three weeks or so past that up on the border at Lake of the Woods.

The walleye, bass, northern season will end locally in about three weeks, with the panfish season, and the season-ending tullibee bite to continue after that until it is not safe to get out on the late ice.

With the ice thicknesses significantly less than typical, and the heavy snow cover. I am predicting an earlier than average ice-out again for this year. Average ice out is about the 25th of April. Just my guess for this year. Spring weather will be the big decider. We are just getting to February, so open water is still a long way out. I am already looking forward to the open water season.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)