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Brad Laabs: Get the net, ice fishing season is slip sliding away

I would guess we have about a week to 10 days of ice fishing before we close the books on the 2020-2021 ice season, based on the long-range forecast.

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Brad Laabs

We still have an ice fishing season going in the area, but you do not see much activity on area lakes.

Even with the warm weather, the ice is still in pretty good shape. The ice thickness on area lakes ranges from 8-16 inches. The ice is still mostly clear, but sled, wheeler, or walkout traffic is the best and safest bet now.

It is a must to stay away from current areas, as rivers and creeks have opened up and are flowing with this last week’s melt of all the snow. The river inlets and outlets will thin ice down significantly with the flow, and for a larger area in the river and creek delta areas. With no snow cover on the lakes it is easy to see areas with emergent weeds sticking up through the ice. Be careful and avoid those areas, as ice is breaking down faster in those areas as well. The weeds absorb heat and energy from the sun and warm the water, thus thinning the ice.

We have a warm forecast, and ice will continue to deteriorate with the warm weather and the power of the sun this time of the year. I would guess about a week to 10 days of ice fishing before we close the books on the 2020-21 ice season, based on the long range forecast. The fact that the sun, and the above-freezing temperatures, don't have to use energy melting the snow cover anymore, means all the energy gets put to use breaking down the ice.

If you are going to continue to get your last ice outings in for the season, look for fish to be shallow and relating to the first break off shoreline flats. Look for green weed areas and pockets in the weeds. Brown weeds don’t hold oxygen or baitfish like green weeds, so if you end up in brown weed areas, move until you find green weeds.


Weeds will start to develop more now, as well, with the snow pack off the ice and the increased and growing length of daylight hours. Most anglers now are getting gills and crappies in the same areas, and finding perch shallow and tighter to the bottom in the same area or close by. Small jigs tipped with wax worms, bright high action plastic tails, and crappie minnows are producing.

For those ready for the boat, all the river systems I mentioned a couple of weeks ago are open and going. Those open water fishing situations will remain very good for the next few weeks. Things change fast now from mid-March through the end of April. We are only a month away from the start of the walleyes spawning!

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

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