The slow transition to spring has kept ice conditions in the area in very good shape for continuing your ice fishing season.
Most of the area lakes have about 22-24 inches of ice, and the melt of a couple of weeks ago, along with some sunny days this last week, has continued to knock the snow down, but not impact the ice. Travel on the lakes is the best it has been all season.
Those anglers that are getting out are having good success with crappies, gills, and tullibee.
Many of the fish getting caught now are fish that have moved to shallower water and shoreline breaks. Most of the panfish are now relating to healthy weed areas instead of feeding on bugs in the basin. Focus on outside edges or pockets in the weeds.
Most tullibees are still getting caught suspended over deep water, but a few are coming shallow in the mix with anglers targeting the shallower panfish. Fish are fish, and they will go where the food is.
Very few anglers are getting out right now, even though the conditions continue to be about the best the area has had all season. Those that are getting out are having good success.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have something to do with the minimal lake activity. It may also be that most anglers are ready for the switch from the ice season to the open water season.
If you are taking the Centers for Disease Control recommendations seriously, and everybody should, ice fishing is a good option for getting out, but still remaining socially isolated. With school out, the opportunity is there to make it a safe family outing. We can also anticipate we will have less traffic from outside visitors to our area now, and most activity on the lakes will be from local anglers.
Our typical ice out date is in the third to fourth week of April, and even though it seems we may be lagging behind this spring, things can change dramatically this time of the year, with a stretch of over 40 degree temperatures, overnights above freezing, and sunshine. The power of the sun at this time of the year can melt and thaw, even if temperatures are in the mid 20’s to freezing.
This thaw from the sun will occur even more as we get rid of snow cover and more ground gets exposed. It is hard to predict now, but I believe we will still be close to our average ice-out date, due to the fact we did not build the ice thicknesses this winter that we normally develop.
It appears we will have some months ahead of us with this coronavirus battle for the health of the nation. Make good decisions and keep you and your family as safe as you can with your choices.
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)