Last week, I wrote about how difficult the ice conditions were due to flooding and slushing. Well after another foot of snow, wind, drifting, and a stretch of warm weather, sun, and rain, the conditions are even worse.

The best plan now is to stay off the lakes. It is possible we may get a short window to get back on the ice, if the snow gets knocked down and things freeze back up on some of the overnights. As always with fishing, the weather is key, so keep your eye on the forecast if you still have the ice fishing scratch to itch.

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This Monday, the 18th, houses need to off the lakes north of highways 10 and 34. If you did not get your house off before last weekend's blizzard, I feel bad for what you had to deal with to get your house off the lake. If you don't have it off yet ... good luck, you will need it, along with hard work and creativity. This has been one of the worst finishes to an ice season in recent memory.

We will have a longer "tweener" season this spring, that's the time between being on the ice, and being able to get onto open water in our area. As I mentioned last week, even some of the traditional early season open water opportunities will be limited this year.

Again, weather is the key. The time we have now will give us more time to clean up and properly store ice gear and equipment. It is also a good time to organize your open water gear, take inventory, make to-do lists, clean reels, change line, and prep boats and gear.

Many of the retail stores will still be running specials, so it is a good time to get a good deal. Many good deals on used equipment can also be found at garage sales, estate sales, pawn shops, and Craig'slist (or other similar social media sales sites).

These are also good ways to sell your old or used gear, equipment, electronics, and even boats, so you can upgrade to what you want now. As the weather warms, more opportunities and options become available. Not too many garage sales from December until March!

My brother Bruce was last in the boat with me a couple of years ago. His health issues and life circumstances interfered with more of that time together the last couple years. He passed away in Rochester last Saturday, so I am fortunate to have some of those memories, along with many others to remember him by. He is at peace, and so am I with his passing.

Make sure you make memories and share your fishing passion with family and friends. The older I get, the more I realize that is what really matters.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)