Fish biting but slush limiting anglers’ mobility

Although the recent mild spell definitely was welcomed by area residents, combined with all the snow, it has created nasty conditions on Sunset Country lakes.
I was on Lake of the Woods this past weekend and I think it should now be called Lake of Slush for the time being. There is lots of it out there!
The fishing was good but getting around was tough. Anglers and snowmobilers should be extremely careful over the next few weeks until things harden up a bit.
For those of you that don’t understand what causes slush to form on our lakes, it is from the weight of the snow, which pushes down the ice, causing water to rise up through cracks in the ice or around the shoreline.
When you consider that wet snow can weigh upwards of 20 pounds per cubic foot, there is thousands of pounds of snow on the ice.
When water starts to push up through these cracks, holes can form, which generally are referred to as air holes. It is around these air holes that the slush usually is the deepest and wettest.
Slush causes problems for people travelling on the ice because is it extremely tough for vehicles to get through. It is heavy, and proportionately a lot of it is water, so vehicles have a hard time getting any traction.
When temperatures drop, the problems are compounded because the slush freezes to everything, increasing the weight of your vehicle or snowmobile.
The danger is that you can get stuck and, in many situations, it can be nearly impossible to get out without some serious towing or until things freeze up.
My recommendation would be for folks to avoid travelling on the ice alone right now, make sure you have a buddy with you, and always try carry a cellphone you can use to call for help if the need arises.
While pulling one of my portable ice-fishing shelters behind my snowmobile this past week, I ran into a deep hole of heavy slush. And when I laid off the gas a little bit, I came to a dead stop with a four-foot pile of snow in front of my machine.
Stuck. I ended up unhooking my shelter and had to leave it on the ice overnight. Once I was free of it, I was able to get my snowmobile moving again and got out of the mess I was in.
Luckily that happened when it was really cold last week, so I was able to follow my frozen track in the next day to pick up my shelter.
As for the fishing, it was decent considering the conditions. I spent time on the weekend catching walleyes and lake trout, and managed to run into some good action.
Walleyes were relatively deep in the 35-foot zone during the day, then shallower during the prime-time evening hours. We were catching them on Northland Buck-Shot Spoons tipped with a shiner head.
We also caught a few nice lake trout on some of the new Northland Live-Forage spoons.
The big issue for anglers right now is mobility. If you access fishing spots with your truck, then you are limited to going wherever there are roads plowed, at least for the near future.
Driving off the ice roads is not happening on any of the waters I’ve been on. Snowmobiles give anglers more opportunity, but caution should be used with regards to where you take them.
Generally, the more open, bigger waters are not going to have slush problems as much as the smaller waters and bays.
We are due for some nice weather and relief from the snow. Hopefully February will be good to us!

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