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Panfish bite should be good next few weeks

Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs

With the recent snow storms of the last week, along with days and evenings of high winds, travel on area lakes will be challenging for anything but snowmobiles off plowed roads and trails.

Hard drifts that are deep in some areas have already stranded some anglers trying to get to remote sites. Make sure you travel with shovels, tow straps, warm gear, and a cell phone in case you need to call for some assistance.

Ice fisherman are helpful to each other, as at some point, everyone will need to get some help on the ice. Getting stuck, or struggling to get a house off the ice without help, will happen to everyone that ice fishes eventually.

With the snow cover and thicker ice, you may need extensions on augers, particularly if you are drilling from inside a wheel or skid house. Ice conditions overall remain very good, with the cold we have had for the last several weeks. The long-range forecast looks to be much more mild, and should make for good fishing for panfish over the next couple of weeks.

The tullibee chasers will start getting out now, as the bite should heat up in the next week or so, and last until we are done on the ice.

The important reminders for this week include the fact that the open season for walleyes and northern pike ends at midnight on Feb. 28 for inland lakes—that is us.

Border water areas have different closing dates, or don't close, depending on the border area you are fishing. See your regulation book or go online at the DNR website for specific data if you are fishing any border water.

Starting March 1, you will also need a new fishing license. Your 2017 license is good from from March 1, 2017 until Feb. 28, 2018.

Your new 2018 license will be good from March 1 (or whenever you purchase it) until Feb. 28, 2019.

It doesn't matter where you are fishing in Minnesota, inland or border, you will need your new license as of the first of March. Stay legal and stay safe!

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide service in Detroit Lakes)

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