Lake of the Woods’ Zippel Bay: Ice fishing, snowshoeing and The Igloo

Jenny Johnson, a bartender at The Igloo, enjoyed some time on the other side of the bar, landing this 40-inch pike Feb. 3. (Photo courtesy Lake of the Woods Tourism)

Putting the zip in Zippel Bay.

That’s the impact this time of year can have on this somewhat off-the-beaten-path stretch of Lake of the Woods, near the sleepy little town of Williams in northwestern Minnesota.

Zippel is about 15 miles from the popular cluster of resorts that’s situated near where the Rainy River meets up with the big lake. But to the west, Zippel remains a major wintertime destination on the Minnesota side of the lake for a number of reasons.

As always, ice fishing is the main draw here, and it may be bigger than ever now. Seven years ago, Zippel Bay Resort added The Igloo to the landscape on the bay — a building that looks like, well, an igloo. It’s a bar on the ice, and also features a limited menu of eats, seating, a big-screen TV and, next to the tables, holes for ice fishing. Recently, a 40-inch pike was pulled through the ice in The Igloo — ice thickness is reportedly a healthy 20 to 24 inches in the area.

The Igloo has been a sort of magnet for ice anglers, who can set up and fish nearby, then stop in for a drink or a bite. And that the fishing bite has been steady this winter, all the way from “Resort Central” to Zippel and even further west, has been a draw, too. (According to recent area fishing reports, plain hooks, Lake of the Woods favorite gold jigs and small spoons tipped with minnows in 24 to 26 feet of water have been the ticket here.)

And not far from Zippel Bay and The Igloo is another draw — Zippel Bay State Park. During the open-water season, the park’s marina-like docks setup serves as a popular stopping point for boaters and anglers. There’s even a fishing pier. But winter fishing on the Minnesota side of the lake is twice as popular as spring, summer and fall combined, with anglers spending more than 2 million hours on the ice.

Still, in the winter, the park hosts events that don’t necessarily have anything to do with fishing or the lake.

This weekend, for example, one of several candlelight snowshoe/cross-country ski events typically held at the park each winter is scheduled. On Saturday, Feb. 11, from 5-9 p.m., snowshoers or skiers can traverse the candlelit trails at the park. (Similar events are scheduled at state parks across the state. For a list of events, click here.) Lined with luminaries, the trail is quite a sight on a winter night — and the hike is quite a way to end a day spent on and/or around the lake.

I attended a snowshoe/ski event at Zippel Bay State Park in 2013 — after a day of fishing not far from Zippel Bay, and plan to do the same on Saturday.

One-stop “shopping” for outdoorsmen on and around “the bay.”

Categories: Feature, Ice Fishing, News, Walleye


Gerald Butkus

how much ice is there around zipple bay going up there on new years day for ice fishing? thank you jerry

Brian Peterson

Last we heard, there was quite a bit of ice. Not sure of an exact inch count, but the resorts along that part of the lake near Long Point/Zippel have had their rental houses on the ice since Dec. 14 or so. Roads reportedly are plowed and fishing supposedly has been good.


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