The weather this last week has really put a hurt on the ice conditions in the area.
Just a week ago, we still had ice ranging from 20-24 inches on most lakes. The sun, warm temps, and a couple overnights above freezing have made the ice very soft. Rain and wind also contribute to the deterioration of ice from solid and clear, to honeycombed and weak.
You can see by the amount of ground exposure how much melt has occurred. Snow we get now will not last, and below-freezing temperatures overnight will not make or bring back the ice. Those that continued to get out fishing through last weekend have done well on crappies, sunfish, and tullibee.
You can also see that due to the ground exposure and the warming of the ground that occurs as it absorbs heat from the sun, that the ice is starting to pull away from shoreline areas. This will continue to be a part of the process of creating our spring ice out.
The ice sheet can be moved by wind and will now start to absorb water, making it even weaker. Sometimes the ice doesn’t just melt, but it gets saturated, heavy, and sinks.
The power of the sun this time of year, longer daylight hours, warm days, overnights above freezing, and the spring rains and wind will all demolish the ice faster than you may think (or can remember from past years).
Keep your eyes on the smaller ponds, when they get ice free, the smaller lakes are only a week away, and the larger and deeper lakes about a week or so after them. It looks like we are on target for our average third week in April for ice out (using Big Detroit as the model).
It is time to stay off the ice and wait for the open water. The conditions change rapidly now, and the ice can be very unpredictable from lake to lake. The world has enough going on now, no need creating more of a problem for yourself, or those that may have to help, for a poor choice and needless risk, or the impact that risky behavior can have on those that care about you.
No fish is worth the risk of your health and safety. The recommended “shelter in place” for the state provides a great opportunity to organize and put away your ice fishing equipment. You can also get excited about getting yourself all rigged up for the open water season that is just a few weeks away now.
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)