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Brad Laabs: A big thanks to Mike Witt for plowing lake roads for ice fishing

Most area lakes are fine, but Cormorant, Long in Vergas, and Rose should be approached with extreme caution, since they only had 3 to 5 inches of ice cover before last week’s significant snow event.

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Photo of the Day - Submitted By: Stacy Moe

DETROIT LAKES — The wet heavy snow that dumped about 18 inches of snow on us last week has been followed by brutal cold temps this week.

This significant cold front will help stiffen up some of the slushing that was occurring on area lakes. This cold will also help build on the 8-12 inches of ice we had before the snow came.

But several lakes may be done for the season and should be approached with extreme caution, since they only had 3 to 5 inches of ice cover before last week’s significant snow event. Cormorant, Long in Vergas, and Rose will take some time to heal, if they do at all this ice season. The majority of area lakes will all be fine.

Little Detroit, Big Detroit, Island, and Sallie will all be available for ice fishing activity now, thanks to Mike Witt of Quality Bait. Mike plowed a road from the landing by the Detroit Lakes ice arena with a big loop all the way to the Pavilion access area. He also plowed out pull-off areas that make for easy set up for portables, skid houses, or wheel houses.

Brad Laabs column mug
Brad Laabs

Mike also plowed Big Detroit to create access to significant areas, making ice fish available on the big lake from the south end to the north end of the lake.


Sallie and Island also got Mike’s attention, knowing they are also popular community ice fishing areas. The plowed out areas will also help with building ice faster than the insulated parts of the lake under significant snow cover. If you stop into Quality Bait, throw Mike a few bucks for all his time, effort, and expense in doing such a significant public service for all of us just before the holiday weekend.

The majority of the rest of the area lakes will all be fine for ice fishing, but travel may be a concern for some if they have not been plowed or don’t have trails to fishing locations.

Travel by sled or track rigs will not be a problem anywhere. Make sure if you venture off lake roads or trails that you have a shovel and a tow rope (just in case), as the snow is deep, some drifting has occurred, and there will still be slush issues in some areas.

Those ice anglers who have continued to get out the last two weeks, even during all the snow, and this last week of our polar vortex experience, have continued to catch fish.

Crappies and gils have been the most active and sought after, with some walleyes and northern also getting caught.

For crappies, look to deeper basin areas. Gils have been caught in weed areas, as well as deeper over soft bottom areas off the breaks.

Walleyes are coming from shore line breaks in the 14- to 22-foot water in early morning or late evening bite windows lasting around an hour or so. Northern are coming from shallow weed flats on tip-ups or tip-downs with big minnows.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

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