Sorry for the absence of my article the last three weeks. I hear a few actually missed me! To quote "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski: "it's very complicated, a lot of in's, a lot of out's, a lot of what have you's."

The good news is, in the time since my last appearance in the outdoor section of your paper, is that we finally have a spring, and we are a week or two from some area lakes having open water.

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More good news is the help and support from the community with fundraising to get a replacement fishing pier at Lake Sallie is well under way. We have not reached our goal, but are getting there.

You can send or drop off a check for the project to Nathan Olson at the DNR. Make checks payable to Lake Melissa/Sallie Walleye Foundation (attn.: fishing pier). This is a tax deductible donation. Thank you to the many that have got on board with financial and promotional support. I will give a more detailed update on progress in a couple weeks.

With this late ice, some local anglers continued chasing tullibees, crappies, sunfish, and perch with some good success through Sunday, April 22. This is late to be on the ice in our area.

Ice thicknesses at that time still ranged from 18 to 26 inches. With the warm weather, above freezing temps at night, sun, wind, and a little rain since then, the ice has deteriorated significantly. The ice is inconsistent and unpredictable now, and changing dramatically every day. Do not go on the ice anymore this season!

Small ponds started to open up on Wednesday, and many times, some of the smaller, shallow, dark bottom lakes in the area will be open a week to 10 days after ponds open up.

With the snow gone, the ground warms and melts the ice tight to shore. By the time you are reading this, many of the lakes will have ice pulling away from shorelines as a result. This is a great sign, and helps the spring winds take the ice out.

With the melting of our snowpack and runoff, rivers and creeks are helping do their job to cut ice in lakes with inlets and outlets. We may still have ice locked up on some of the larger, deeper, clearer lake in the area that are also some of the last to ice over in the fall.

Lakes like Cormorant, Rose, Lida, Pelican, and Ottertail may still be ice-locked at opener with this late spring thaw. But, nature is amazing. Sun, wind, and rain could even do them in before May 12!

By the way ... another good sign ... the framing for the capture nets for the walleye spawn has already been put out by the DNR at the river entrance at Lake Sallie at Dunton Locks Park! By this time next week we will know more about our area progress.

Next week, I will write about considerations and tips that could help for what is projected to be a cold water temp start to the open water season. Hard to believe we are finally only a couple of weeks away from "opener."