Be careful out on the ice

Like many of you who choose to live in our beautiful part of the world, I don’t mind winter. I like the fact we have seasons and enjoy outdoor activities throughout the year.
That being said, if I had to choose, our summers are tough to beat.
The great weather we’ve had certainly has helped to make winter easy so far. Not a lot of snow to shovel, although I’m sure the snowmobilers would like to see a little bit more.
The mild temperatures have been welcomed, as well, but they have caused some setbacks to the quality of the ice on area lakes.
As it stands right now, our lakes are frozen but conditions vary across the region.
It’s that time of year when anglers want to get out and start ice-fishing—and that’s great. It’s been months since most of us have had a fresh feed of fish.
But there are good and bad decisions we can make with regards to where we are fishing and how we are travelling.
I’ve fished a few times over the past week on Lake of the Woods and have been very surprised to see trucks driving around on the ice as much as I have. Most of the places I’ve fished have 10-12 inches of ice, which I think is really marginal for driving a truck on.
My friends and I are fortunate to have snowmobiles and ATVs that we have been travelling with.
Not only are conditions mediocre at best for truck travel, we are seeing a lot of ice ridges on the lake that normally are not there.
Apparently these ridges have formed in so many different places because of the lack of snow on the ice over the past few weeks. Usually there aren’t that many of these ridges on our lakes.
The ice around these ridges can be very unpredictable and folks should use extreme caution when they travel around them.
We have not been going over them at all, instead just driving around them to get to our fishing spots.
They are not as prevalent on the smaller lakes, but most of the bigger lakes have them.
In talking with people, it sounds like there have been a few trucks and trailers that have put tires, or even worse entire rigs, through the ice trying to cross some of these ridges.
It is a long winter. We still have a couple of months left so please don’t rush out on the lake in your trucks. It’s just not worth it.
If you do not have access to a snowmobile or ATV, try fishing some of the inland lakes where you can walk out.
We need to get a good couple of really cold nights to tighten things up. The good news is we don’t have a lot of snow on the ice, so we should have better ice conditions sooner than later.
But again, be very careful around the ice ridges and don’t take any chances.
The super-deep trout lakes took longer than normal to freeze this year, as well, so don’t expect them to have as much ice as they might normally at this point.
I heard from a friend in Nestor Falls that there was one hole on Crow Lake that just finally froze last week, so be careful!
Fishing actually has been good, for the most part. My friends and I fished for walleye three afternoons this past week and did really good on two of the days and not so good one.
We were catching fish in 22-26 feet of water on spoons and swimming jigs tipped with minnow heads.

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