In many parts of state, ice anglers experience a quick end to season

Blackduck, Minn. — Last week’s unseasonably warm weather brought a quick end to most ice-fishing opportunities in the southern half of the state. But to the north, the shorelines and main-lake ice have held up well, likely allowing at least a couple more weekends of fishing.

Throughout the Blackduck area, the lack of snow meant little runoff, which has kept most shorelines intact. Anglers continued to drive vehicles on the ice last weekend, and with temperatures cooling again this week, everything looks good at this point, according to Carl Adams, of Timberline Sports.

“Our shorelines didn’t get beat up and main-lake ice is good; overall our ice had held up really well,” Adams said. “As long as that shore ice doesn’t break up we’ll be in good shape for at least another week.”

Roger Croaker, of Nodak’s Lodge on Lake Winnibigoshish, said early this week that the warm weather came too quickly and it deteriorated shorelines faster than he’s ever seen. Although there’s still 3 feet of ice on the lake and anglers continue to catch perch, he’s now telling people to bring ATVs.

Around Grand Rapids, vehicle travel was an option on many lakes last weekend. It rained in this area on Monday, so that might no longer be an option, but ice fishing will be for at least a couple more weeks. With temperatures dipping back to more normal levels this week, Ben Kellin, of Ben’s Bait and Tackle, is confident getting on lakes in this area won’t be a problem in the immediate future.

“You might not need it, but I’m telling guys to bring their four-wheelers; that way they won’t have any issues getting on,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of guys calling that were shocked we are still getting on.” 

Walking on some lakes remained an option early this week in the metro area, but the ice-fishing season has mostly come to an end south of there.

Justin Sommer, of Sommer Outdoors in Fairmont, said the lakes aren’t completely open, but the shorelines have pulled away, the ice that remains is black, and there’s pockets of open water. It’s likely the ice will be gone within the next week. In Rochester, Codie Rollings, from Hooked On Fishing, reported that the ice is weak and unsafe to walk on.

In the Windom and Marshall areas, Wayne Shellenberg, at Borch’s Sporting Goods, says some small lakes, ponds, and sloughs are open. Where there is ice, it’s black and rotten so fishing is no longer an option.

In Waterville, Axel’s Tackle Box owner Axel Streed said ice fishing is done. Shorelines are open and there are pockets of open water on all area lakes.

While the warm weather has ended the ice-fishing season in many locations, it likely helped speed up open-water fishing options on the Rainy River. As of Monday morning, the river was open 5 miles east of Birchdale.

Art Gustafson, of Clementson Resort, says ice-out is moving fast, about four to five miles each day. He has people coming to fish open water this weekend.

“It’s going fast – as fast as I’ve ever seen it go out,” he said on Monday. “There are guys fishing east of here and we’re hoping to get out by Birchdale this weekend.”

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