Ice fishing finished across most of state

By Glen
Schmitt
Staff Writer

Blackduck, Minn. – Travel far enough north this weekend and you
could find walkable ice, but you’d probably need a real long plank
to reach it.

By most accounts, ice-fishing opportunities have ended for the
season. Even where the shorelines have stayed somewhat intact, main
lake ice has become honeycombed and not overly attractive to even
the most avid ice anglers.

Most Minnesotans are ready to move on to open water and
shoreline crappie action. In the southern Minnesota, that’s already
begun.

‘We were still getting on (the ice) over the weekend, but it’s
going to end soon,’ said Carl Adams of Timberline Sports in
Blackduck. ‘That’s fine because I don’t think that many people are
still interested in ice fishing.’

As of Tuesday, anglers continued to find walkable ice at Leech
Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Rainy Lake. Lake Kabetogama and
Namakan Lake also had enough ice to support anglers. But slush,
standing water, and unpredictable pressure ridges kept fishing
activity to a minimum.

Throughout the Grand Rapids area, ice is still evident on all
lakes. But the shorelines have busted loose, which is preventing
access to remaining ice.

Ben Kellin, of Ben’s Bait in Grand Rapids, says it’s time to
wrap up this winter’s ice fishing season. Even with cooler weather
in the forecast, he’s not advising any form of travel on the lakes
in this region any longer.

The ice disappeared in the St. Cloud area and points west last
Sunday – nearly two weeks ahead of what’s considered a normal
ice-out year.

Shoreline fishermen have begun ‘checking’ their traditional
spring crappie spots with little or no success. But as four to six
inches of fresh snow hit this region on Tuesday, it might be
another week or 10 days before the spring panfish bite heats
up.

‘We’ve got some guys looking, but they haven’t found any
panfish, yet,’ said Mike Lies of Mike’s Bait and Tackle in Eden
Valley. ‘The lakes are all open, but this snow might delay the bite
for at least one more week.’

Near Mankato, Chisago City, and Waterville, anglers wasted
little time finding crappies. The ice has been out a week in these
locations, and it appears as though the panfish were as anxious for
open water as the fishermen were.

Brad Dusenka of Frankie’s Live Bait in Chisago said the
transition period from ice to open water was minimal. Crappies
already have been caught and with a few warm days the bite should
improve.

‘We went from ice fishing to open-water fishing in about a
five-day period,’ he said.

Walleye anglers finally had the opportunity to hit the Rainy
River in force this week. Ice at the Birchdale access broke loose
on Sunday, allowing boats to begin navigating the Rainy with some
level of comfort.

Although floating ice and some shoreline ice remains, getting a
boat on the river is no longer a concern. Reports as of Tuesday
morning indicated a slow bite.

That could change quickly as more of the Rainy opens to anglers.
By this weekend, there’s a good chance the Frontier Landing also
will be open, providing a seven-mile stretch of fishable water from
Birchdale.

On the Mississippi River near Red Wing, all accesses have been
ice-free for about two weeks. Water levels are up, but very
fishable, and the debris found floating in this stretch 10 days ago
has pretty much cleared up.

Plus, fishing has been consistent. According to Ike Eichorn of
Ike’s Bait and Tackle in Red Wing, the sauger action has been
excellent. A few big walleyes have been caught, too.

Categories: Hunting News

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