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Brad Laabs: Got the itch to ice fish? Here are a few options

Many of the most popular walleye fishing ice destinations are on hold until we have a significant cold snap that will make ice safer. Lake of the Woods, Winni, Leech, Mille Lacs, Gull, and Otter Tail lakes are out, as of now, for being early ice destinations. But Red Lake resorts have announced walk-out ice fishing starting Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

 Ice fishing. Fisherman sitting on a frozen lake for fishing
Smiltena/smiltena - stock.adobe.com
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DETROIT LAKES — Ice development has been worse than we were expecting this last week.

High winds opened up many lakes that had just about skimmed over completely, and several nuisance snow events have slowed ice development on those ponds and lakes that had completely iced over.

The snow on the ice is now impacting the ice, as we have had a couple thaw days due to warmer daytime temperatures and some bright sunshine days.

The snow gets wet and heavier with sun and warm temps. When it refreezes it also creates a thin ice layer over slushy ice before getting to better clear ice underneath that. We are also due to have several more thaw days with above freezing daytime highs for a few days this next week. The colder forecast after that with overnight lows in the single digits will really help get our ice up to speed.

For now, you must be very careful if you venture out onto the ice. Walk out only, absolutely no wheelers or sleds at this time in our area due to our ice conditions now. And check with a spud bar or ice chisel as you go.

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Make sure you are on at least a consistent 3-4 inches of ice.

Brad Laabs column mug
Brad Laabs

If drilled holes have water boiling out, you are sagging the ice, and extreme caution is needed. Flooded ice deteriorates in these current conditions. It is wise to have hand ice picks to make sure you can get out if you do break through the ice.

Ice cleats will help prevent slips on the ice. Falling on the ice is painful at the least, and many times injurious.

Many of the most popular walleye fishing ice destinations are on hold until we have a significant cold snap that will make ice safer. Lake of the Woods, Winni, Leech, Mille Lacs, Gull, and Otter Tail lakes are out, as of now, for being early ice destinations — but it won’t be too long!

Red Lake resorts have announced walk-out ice fishing starting Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). If you do travel to Red Lake for the early walleye ice bite there, please note new regulations are in place for the walleye harvest: The walleye limit is now three walleyes with one over 17 inches.

Resorts and local bait shops are always good resources for getting up-to-date information on ice conditions as well as accurate fishing reports. Local bait shops are also a great help when it comes to tips and techniques. Most fishing communities also have ice and fishing reports posted with their area Chambers of Commerce.

The fastest growing resource for current updates and information the last few years has been with the many social network platforms. Do your homework to help you stay safe and be successful.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

Related Topics: NORTHLAND OUTDOORSBRAD LAABS
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