Signs that the hard-water season is nearing on Lake of the Woods

(Lake of the Woods Tourism)

Call it the ice pool.

While football office pools are popular most everywhere this time of year, one small neighborhood on and around Long Point, on Lake of the Woods in rural Williams, Minn., has a pool of its own:

On what date will resort rental fishing houses start appearing on the ice in that neck of Lake of the Woods?

Guesses for the contest usually start coming about this time of year as folks out that way dream of the day when the ice is thick enough to finally accommodate their ice-fishing shelters. When it’s thick enough for the resorts, it’s thick enough for them, they believe.

There are other more prominent signs, too, that it’s go-time at Lake of the Woods in preparation for the fishing season at the popular far-northwestern Minnesota fishery. In an e-newsletter late last month, the Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau posted a link to an extensive help-wanted list – jobs that need to be filled, along with other business opportunities, as resorts and area businesses gear up for the big season.

And in its most recent e-newsletter Thursday, Nov. 2, Lake of the Woods Tourism reminded ice angles of a program – and a responsibility – that goes hand-in-hand with the massive ice-fishing movement around the southern shores of the big lake.

The Keep It Clean program is in its fifth year. The program was created after continually busy – and, in turn, garbage-filled – hard-water seasons on the lake. Area volunteers annually gather in the spring, after ice-out, to collect garbage that would wash ashore following the hard-water season. But that could be overwhelming. Garbage-collection efforts continue after ice-out, but the Keep It Clean program has helped extensively on the front end of the effort.

Beginning mid-December, large dumpsters will be placed along the south shore of Lake of the Woods, at strategic locations convenient for ice anglers, according to Lake of the Woods Tourism. Locations include Wheeler’s Point access, Cyrus Resort, Zippel Bay Resort, Arnesen’s Rocky Point, Swift Ditch, and the Point in Warroad, according to the Keep It Clean web page.

Keep It Clean was created by a group of local stakeholders that includes Lake of the Woods Tourism, Minnesota DNR divisions of fisheries and enforcement, Lake of the Woods Soil and Water Conservation District, Roseau Soil and Water Conservation District, Lake of the Woods County, and Friends of Zippel Bay State Park.

According to Lake of the Woods Tourism, Keep It Clean is part of an effort that provides more than 30 miles of shoreline cleanup (with the assistance of the Minnesota Conservation Corps and Minnesota DNR). In recent years, the dumpsters were dumped “hundreds of times, totaling about 90 tons of garbage per year,” Tourism said.

So when will those first dumpsters be filled? Probably within days of those first resort shelters appearing on the ice.

Or at least that’s the hope.

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