Ice-out line moving north as border action picks up
Baudette, Minn. The diehard ice angler who searches long enough
can still find spots to fish. But for most of the state, the next
significant warm up likely by the end of this week will melt away
the ice season.
From the southern fringes of the state, north to Brainerd,
you’ll find more open water than ice. If ice does exist, it’s
limited and in very poor shape. You have to travel to the extreme
northern regions of the state to find ice safe enough for walking,
and in most instances, that’s no longer advised.
Reports from the big lakes such as Lake of the Woods, Red,
Leech, Winnibigoshish, and Mille Lacs indicate rapidly
deteriorating ice. Although there’s still plenty of ice on the main
portions of these fisheries, the shorelines are in poor shape. The
few anglers who continue to “sneak” on the ice are doing so at
their own risk because almost all resort accesses are closed.
Rainy Lake, along the Canadian border, is one exception. The ice
is holding up well throughout the lake and there are still anglers
using ATVs or snowmobiles here.
“We’ve got plenty of ice, and the shorelines are in good shape,”
said Bruce Sandbeck of the Loon’s Nest on Rainy Lake. “Warm weather
could change that in a hurry, but as of right now, I expect a
later-than-usual ice-out up here.”
The lack of ice is good news for open-water anglers on the Rainy
River. The river is open shore to shore about five miles west of
the Frontier landing. The Birchdale access also is open so fishing
pressure and boat traffic has been high. River fishing for walleyes
on Rainy River continues through this Sunday, April 14.
“It’s opening one or two miles each day,” said Rick Anderson of
Clementson Resort. “There’s plenty of open water and we’re even
seeing a lot of big boats out there.”
Anderson also pointed out that the Rainy River is quite low this
spring but the walleyes and sturgeon have been very active. The
bigger females haven’t quite turned on yet, but catching numbers of
fish has been easy for most groups.
The Minnesota/South Dakota border water walleye season kicks off
on Saturday, April 26 and ice should not be a problem on Big Stone
Lake or Lake Traverse, according to Jim Rassett of Bud’s Bait and
Tackle in Ortonville.
“There’s already long stretches of open water on Big Stone and I
expect it to be completely open by the weekend,” Rassett said.
“I’ve heard that Lake Traverse is already ice-free.”
In the southern half of the state, crappie anglers have begun
fishing open water with limited success. While the traditional
spring crappie haunts are ice-free, a few more days of warm weather
are needed to move these fish into shallow water.
Eric Eichorn, at Four Season’s Bait Shop in Red Wing, said river
fishing has been running full bore, and the river “even Lake Pepin”
is wide open. Traditional walleye and sauger locales, like Dam 4
and Hay Creek, have been productive.
“The fish are cooperating,” he said. “We’ve been busy.”