Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Ice still fishable in northern Minnesota

Garrison, Minn. – The calendar says it’s spring, but you
wouldn’t think so based on all the ice fishing opportunities that
still exist in the northern half of Minnesota. Generally speaking,
anglers will find open water from points south of St. Cloud. But
you don’t have to go too far north of central Minnesota to find ice
– much of which remains in pretty good shape.

While the shorelines are showing signs of a spring thaw, anglers
continue to find more than enough ice to walk on and in some cases
drive ATVs over. Just how long ice fishing remains an option in the
northern half of the state may depend on weather during the week.
But it looks as if ice fishing will be a possibility at least
through this weekend.

Terry Thurmer of Terry’s Boat Harbor on the west side of Mille
Lacs says there’s still three feet of ice covering the lake. While
certain sections of the shoreline have started to pull away, there
were still plenty of spots to access the lake early in the

“The way it looks right now, I would think we’ll get on this
weekend,” Thurmer said Tuesday morning. “If the shorelines hold up,
the main-lake ice is in good shape.”

In the far northern regions, anglers still were driving trucks
on a few lakes. Around Blackduck, Red Lake, Lake of the Woods, and
Rainy Lake getting on a lake with some form of motorized means
wasn’t a problem.

On some of the state’s other large lakes such as Leech and
Winnibigoshish, many of the heavily used accesses have started to
deteriorate. But again, if you can get on the ice it seems to be
plenty safe for fishing.

Carl Adams of Timberline Sports in Blackduck said ice conditions
haven’t changed at all over the past seven days. The shorelines are
intact and four wheelers should remain an option this weekend
regardless of what the weather does during the week.

Throughout Detroit Lakes, Frazee, and Battle Lake the shorelines
are tight to the edge and the ice in place hasn’t even begun to
crystallize. With temperatures dipping below the freezing point at
night this week, there should be no problem finding spots to fish
in these areas over the next few days.

In Grand Marais, it still looks like winter. There’s still more
than 20 inches of snow on the ground throughout much of the
Arrowhead region and the lakes have yet to be affected by any type
of thaw.

Near Duluth, it’s been just warm enough at times for the
shorelines to take a hit. According to John Chalstrom of
Chalstrom’s Bait you could still get on the lakes early this week,
but he wasn’t sure what would happen by the weekend.

“The shorelines have started to give and most guys seem to have
hung it up for the year,” he said. “Slowly, but surely, the ice is
starting to look like it’s deteriorating.”

Along the Minnesota/South Dakota border, anglers are gearing up
for the border walleye opener next Saturday, April 18. At this
point it looks as if getting boats in lakes such as Big Stone and
Traverse shouldn’t be a problem.

Last year’s opener was delayed a few days due to ice that didn’t
want to melt. But this year, the southern half of Big Stone is
already open and there are big pockets of open water throughout the
rest of the lake, according to Greg Rasset of Bud’s Bait and Tackle
in Ortonville.

“We should be ice-free and the forecast sounds promising over
the next week to 10 days,” Rasset said. “If we get any amount of
wind or warm weather, we shouldn’t have any ice within a few

For a complete rundown on where ice still exists or to find a
few spots to fish open water, check out the statewide fishing
report on Page 17 of this issue.

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