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Forget the Vikes--get out and ice fish

We are at the time of the season when we say goodbye to the Vikes and the playoff run. By now everybody should be done grieving the difficult Viking loss to the Eagles with the chance to go to the Super Bowl we are hosting this year.

It would have been awesome, but ... oh well. It was still a heck of a season and a very entertaining team to follow. The benefit now is the chance to spend time on the ice chasing dinner or fun, instead of sitting on the couch on Super Bowl Sunday.

The long-range forecast looks very favorable for spending time on the ice, with a chance to be mobile and check multiple areas out. It is always much easier during the brutal cold to fish in the permanent house, set up the portable in your prime location and hope for the best, or use it as an excuse not to even go out and try.

When the temps are above zero, wind is minimal, and we have a little sunshine, it is a great time (and very comfortable) to hole-hop and explore. Being mobile also increases your chances for success. I think finding fish instead of waiting for them to find you increases catch rates.

Use mapping to find extending points, inside turn edges, or close in humps. Start drilling holes shallow and work toward deep water. Because I can't remember like I used to, I etch the depth in the snow next to the hole. You can get a picture of the layout of the area. Drop your locator in the hole to find the depth and possibly mark fish. Most times you will find fish deeper in the middle of the day and moving up shallower as it gets close to dark.

Ice conditions are excellent, with ice thicknesses of 20-25 inches all over the region. Some of the risky locations and ice thickness variations that still existed up until a couple weeks ago, resolved themselves with the last bitter cold front we are climbing out of now. The weather has been very mild and the warmer weather and sunshine has knocked the snow cover on the lakes down considerably. Travel on the lakes is very easy now.

We are also at the time of the ice season when the fishing derbies start. The region is rich with derby activity for the next four weekends. They are great social events and fundraisers for good community causes. They are also good opportunities to get the whole family together on the ice for fishing, food, fun, and fellowship. Kids love the chance to win a prize and are proud to weigh in a catch ... so are adults! Check area Chambers of Commerce and local bait shops to find out about derbies in the region.

Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes