This last week we have received another 4 to 6 inches of snow cover. Fortunately, this snow was not the wet and heavy snow like we received in the post-Thanksgiving storm.
The severe cold snap of below-zero temperatures that has lasted multiple days this week has helped build ice even with the insulating snow cover. The slushing issue should also be resolved with the cold weather snap we have just experienced. When we have stretches of days below zero in a row like we have had this week, we can make an inch or more of ice every 24 hours even with the snowpack.
We are still in a situation where the travel on the lakes should be limited to wheeler, sled, or foot until we get 13 to 15 inches of consistent ice thicknesses on area lakes.
No roads or access area to community fishing spots will be plowed out until the lakes can support plow trucks safely on the ice. Skid houses and small wheel houses can be pulled onto the lakes now with wheelers or sleds. Some of the smaller, shallow basin lakes may have ice thicknesses now that can support cars or small trucks, but you must check ice depths before you just drive out on the ice.
Some of the few anglers who have been getting out report that crappies and bigger gills have been willing biters. Early mornings or late in the day with lower light levels have been most productive. Walleyes have been biting for some anglers. The bite windows have been short, and better with low light conditions.
As you read this, I am up at Lake of the Woods catching walleyes and saugers. This will be my last trip on the ice for this ice season this winter as I will be having hip surgery on Wednesday the 18th. There is no perfect time to have this issue resolved without it interfering. I would rather lose the January and February ice fishing part of the season, so I am ready to go for open water in the spring.
I will be counting on some others to help keep me informed of ice conditions and fishing reports for the rest of the ice season.
The early ice-up of the lakes got most ice anglers excited for the early ice bite and a long ice season, but Mother Nature has thrown some challenges in the way of getting good quality and consistent ice development early.
We have had some ups and downs the last few weeks with warm weather following the early ice, then high winds, now too much snow (I know the snowmobilers don’t think so!) I hope for cold weather and minimal snow for the next couple weeks, so the rest of you can get out and enjoy the ice. I will give you my Lake of the Woods report next week, and let you know how the surgery went, too.
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)