Travel on area lakes continues to be a challenge unless you stay to plowed roads or trails to community fishing spots.

We again, this last week, received several more inches of snow, followed by a heavy blow day on Thursday that created more drifting over of roads and trails.

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In case you haven't noticed by now, this winter has been more fierce than the last several. We have had more snow, more cold, and significant wind to contend with all winter. I am hoping the old saying "In like a Lion, out like a Lamb" holds true this year. We could use a nice spring and early summer.

I know I am getting sick of the weather patterns we have been fighting with all winter. I am ready for this to end and for the corner to truly turn to signs of spring to come now, and I don't think I am alone!

The calendar is pointing in the direction of spring and transition. One sure indication of this is the fact, is that next Sunday, the 24th of February at midnight, the walleye and northern pike season will close for inland waters in Minnesota. That is us.

The season for walleye and northern will not open again after Feb. 24 until the "Minnesota Opener" on May 11. You will also need to buy your new fishing license by March 1. Your 2018 fishing license will expire at midnight on the 28th of this month.

Your 2019 fishing license will be good from March 1, 2019 to Feb. 28, 2020. I will write a reminder of this important information again next week.

Season closures and re-licensing are realities that get commonly overlooked year after year. They can sneak up on us. Even all of us that are mindful of these facts can use some reminding.

Another important date to get on your calendar, is the removal of fish houses from the lakes south of the boundary created by Highway 10, Highway 34, and Highway 200. Houses south of that boundary line need to be removed by March 4.

The lakes north of that boundary line have plenty of time left on the lakes, and won't need to be removed until March 18. I will write reminders of this again as well. These dates can sneak up on us as well.

If you have houses out, especially on the lakes to the south, start making some plans now for their removal. Some houses can end up being difficult to remove, especially with the snow cover we have this year.

You can still take wheel and skid houses out after the closing dates and use them. You just need to be in them when they are out on the ice and they can't be left out unattended. Take them out, fish out of them, and pull them off. Remember too, you cannot pull them off and leave them at accesses.

My guess, is we are down to about four weeks left on the ice on the lakes to the south of the boundary, and maybe six weeks on the lakes to the north. Weather over the next several weeks will be the key to the rest of the ice season.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)