Welcome to the start of the 2019 portion of the ice fishing season.

The end of the year brought us an additional 16 inches of snow, followed by a cold snap. The cold did help build a couple more inches of ice. Vehicle traffic, and getting wheel houses on the lakes is not an issue now with our ice thicknesses.

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Travel on the lake can be a challenge off plowed roads or trails due to the snow cover and some hard packed drifts. Locals have been good about getting access to community fishing spots on many area lakes. Ice heaves can be covered now with the deeper snow, so travel with respect for the ice if attempting to get to remote locations.

The 2018 portion of this winter's ice season has been very good for most anglers for all species. The bite should remain very good for the next couple weeks. It is common for things to slow down by mid-January, with shorter bite windows for all species, especially walleyes. Now is a good time to get out and catch some fish dinners.

This is the time of the year we reflect back on our 2018 and have made some resolutions for 2019. I try to do this with my personal life and with my fishing. Working on tolerance and patience to become more often on the asset side of my character ledger than the defect side, will benefit me (and probably others!) in both my personal and fishing life. I have specific incidents and situations in mind, and specific applications to apply these ... but I will not be sharing them here!

This past year has been difficult on a personal level, right up until New Year's Eve when my wife Mary lost her 63-year-old brother Nick to a stroke. His funeral will be Thursday the 10th. He was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman. He had just retired from his career as a contractor, and was enjoying his free time fishing and playing music.

Earlier in the year, she lost her mother. Last year started with my oldest brother Bill, 71, placed in a memory care facility, and he will be there for the rest of his life due to a stroke. We transitioned my mother (93 years old) several times this year after a bad fall in February, with her finally ending up in the same memory care facility.

My other brother had a bad accident and ended up in ICU and nearly lost his life. The reminder of how quickly things can change in life is also a reminder to appreciate all the time with family and friends we have. Many tremendous memories with all our family members have come from enjoying fishing and the outdoors together. I will work at continuing to make positive memories with friends and family, for me, and them. I am hoping for a great 2019 ... for all of us!

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)