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Brad Laabs: If this keeps up, lakes could freeze over in next week or so

Brad Laabs column mug
Brad Laabs

It is looking like I have had my last open water trip of the 2020 open water season in our area, as of Monday, Oct. 19.

This is an extremely early exit, but seems consistent with all the other weirdness of 2020. The water temperature when I came off the lake just before dark on Monday on Big Cormorant Lake was 49 degrees. Some other lakes in the area were already even cooler than that. With the 4-5 inches of snow Tuesday, and the snow Thursday with the extreme cold front, water temps are getting to the point that we could ice over in the next week or 10 days if the projected forecast holds true

On average, we are usually on open water around here until just before Thanksgiving. There have been some years we have gone into December before getting skimmed over with ice. It seems to me we are setting up for a very early ice-over, with the single digit to low teens overnights and daytime highs in the 20s that are going to make up our next week. This is the earliest I can remember getting chased from open water locally.

There will be a few walleye and musky anglers that will jump on the water even with those temps just because the water is still open. It is not terrible if it is below freezing with no wind and some sun (if that happens, I will probably be out there, too!), but it is not looking good for even those type of conditions, if the predictions are even close to what they are now.

When it is below freezing and the wind is blowing 10 mph or more, it is brutal for even the most hardy. If you plan on getting a last trip or two in for this open water season, make sure you prepare: High waterproof boots can get you in and out as many of the docks will be getting pulled now. Layer up over long underwear and have several pairs of gloves and an extra hat, as it is easy to get them wet, and they no longer can do the job for you (even extra socks can come in handy). Take towels to dry hands, and hand warmers can help in pockets, gloves, or boots. A head lamp or flashlights are always good to have when it gets dark so early now.


If you don’t plan to try to get out again, make sure you winterize your boat and trailer, and properly stow all of your gear. Charge batteries and pull graphs to be stored in warm conditions. Now is also a good time to start getting your ice season gear organized and ready. I know some will be waiting for that as you get busy now getting ready and organized for all the different hunting opportunities and trips coming up.

Wow, this 2020 year …. one most will never forget, for many reasons.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

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