Well, we knew the mild winter wasn’t going to last forever.
The cold front of a couple of weeks ago seems mild compared to this 10-12 day polar vortex blast we are in the middle of right now. The severe cold has added significant ice to area lakes and made the snow cover a hard crust.
Travel on the ice is easy and much safer with ice thicknesses now. As always, no ice is ever perfectly safe, so treat the ice with respect and common sense. When it gets super cold like this and you can drive right up to a warm fish house, it is easy to blow off traveling with good proper gear.
Do not take your vehicle or the conditions on the ice for granted. Always travel prepared to deal with this brutal weather. These conditions can be dangerous. Make sure you are teaching kids the importance of proper preparation and respect for nature.
When this cold blast first arrived, fish went into a very neutral to negative feeding mood. As the system has continued to linger, fish have adapted, returned to feeding periods, and have been catchable for many anglers continuing to fish through this weather.
Crappies and gills have been the most sought after and cooperative, but some anglers have continued to catch walleyes. It is always more common for the walleye bite to be more challenging this time of the ice season, and short bite windows are the norm.
Some anglers have found that some of the best activity has been occurring overnight, even when outside temperatures have gotten to the mid 20-below zero range.
Since getting back from a week at Lake of the Woods, I have not been out locally due to the desire to get projects completed and off my plate before some of the open water opportunities start presenting themselves starting in March, so I have counted on reports from others continuing to fish through this front.
This pandemic and the brutal late season cold snap has had a significant impact on ice derbies around the state. The big Brainerd event was held virtually and had incredible participation. Many others have also changed or adapted their formats. This second winter of uniqueness may change how some of the derbies continue to operate or fundraise in the future. These events are missed by many ice anglers, as some travel all over for these events.
Most start the second week of January and continue through the end of February. There are events every weekend (and some weekends, multiple events). Cancelations, postponements, rescheduling, and virtual events have been the theme this year. due to the weather and our still being impacted by the global pandemic. This time next year should be very different for all of us.
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)