Report from the Dock
The first ice fishing reports of the season were offered up this week. Reports were limited, but the good news is that ice has taken hold in most parts of the state and seemed to be holding up despite some wind and warmer weather this week. Obviously, the northern half of Minnesota has better ice conditions, especially on the small, shallow lakes and bays. Anglers have started walking out on 3 to 5 inches of ice in some locations. There’s even been some people getting on a handful of skinny water lakes in the central and southern parts of the state. You need to use extreme caution, check ice depths as you venture out, and use the contacts in this report for up to the minute ice conditions heading into this weekend. Most big lakes were still open or had pockets of open water as of Tuesday morning. But the season has started and reports from most areas indicated that there should be increased fishing activity this weekend.
LAKE MILLE LACS
There’s a crust of ice in the bays and along most shorelines, while the main lake was wide open early this week. There was actually a few boats on the lake as recently as last weekend. Look to those bays soon, they’ll be the first areas to provide ice thick enough to walk on.
Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811
Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
Cold temperatures have added to ice formation on back bays and much of the big lake – progress is being made. When the time is right, resorts and outfitters will begin marking and grooming trails for ice travel. Northern pike angling/spearing is getting started in the shallow bays and things will progress as the ice begins to form on the lake. Much of the Rainy River is locked up with areas of open water scattered throughout. At the Northwest Angle, the bays and much of the lake are capped. Ice is forming nicely and is right on track for this year’s ice fishing season.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
Early this week, the very small bays on a few local lakes had a thin layer of ice. Most lakes were ice-free as of Tuesday morning. There has been some anglers out in boats on Lake Minnetonka, mainly fishing muskies with large sucker minnows.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
The shallow bays have had ice on them for more than a week, but additional snow is starting to pile up on them, which has prevented it from getting much thicker – there has been no ice fishing at this point. The main part of the lake and Big Bay were wide open early this week.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
The Mississippi River and mouth of it is capped with ice and there is shoreline ice that does extend quite a ways out, into the lake. There was likely open water beyond the ice, out of eyesight, early this week on the main body of the lake.
Ice has started to form on parts of the lake, mainly on areas that are wind-protected. The smaller bays such as Steamboat have a thin layer of ice and there is longer stretches of ice reported from the Whipholt area. Walker Bay remained wide open early this week.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company
There is ice on the wind-protected bays and along some shorelines that extend out, into the lake and nothing that’s safe to venture onto at this point. There’s likely spots or pockets of open water on the big portion of the lake as well.
RainyDaze Guide Service
Some foot travel started mid-week out of select locations and many resorts or outfitters planned on letting anglers walk out this Friday. Reports early this week indicated 3 to 5 inches of ice in areas that will be fished this weekend. Use the contacts below or other outfitters to stay up on day-to-day conditions, which could change with any amount of wind or additional snow.
West Wind Resort (218) 647-8998
JR’s Corner Access (320) 290-3838
Twin Cities Metro
There isn’t much for ice around the area. The ponds are capped and there is thin ice along some shorelines and a few shallow bays, but there was still a lot of open water throughout the area early this week.
Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle
Ice has started to form along the shorelines of bigger lakes, but most of them were ice-free early this week. You could probably get a boat on most of them this weekend. There’s more ice on the bays and shallow lakes, some are completely covered, but it’s not thick enough to walk on.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
A handful of anglers have started walking on a few of the area’s small lakes that capped first with 3 to 4 inches of ice being found. Open water was still very evident on local lakes of any size. Some of those traditional, early ice locations – small, shallow bays and lakes – could see some activity this weekend if the weather stays cold and calm.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle
BATTLE LAKE AREA
Most bays and small lakes are covered with a thin layer of ice. The few people that have been checking ice depths were reporting no more than 3 inches early this week. The big, deep lakes remained mostly ice-free as of Tuesday morning.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
The small- to medium-size lakes are ice-covered and there are some folks venturing out on Lake Irving where 3 to 4 inches of ice was being found early this week. The large, deep lakes have some ice starting to form as well. More options for foot travel should be available by this weekend on those lakes that capped earliest.
Dick Beardsley Guide Service
The lakes are totally capped and ice depths vary from 2 to 6 inches on local lakes – some limited fishing options have developed. Blackduck Lake is giving up a few walleyes in 6 to 10 feet, and look for more areas to be safe for foot travel by this weekend.
Timberline Sports and Tackle
Ice depths vary from 2 to 4 inches on some small, shallow bays. Limited foot travel has started on a few of these areas, but fishing reports have been limited. Lakes with any depth or size remained mostly ice-free as of Tuesday morning.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/
Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010
CASS LAKE AREA
The Allen’s Bay area on Cass is capped with ice, but the main body was wide open early this week. Generally, the area’s small lakes and bays have some ice on them, but not quite enough to walk on, while lakes of any size have skim ice at best.
Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831
Ice has started to form along the shorelines and in some bays, but there isn’t enough of it to walk on. As of Tuesday morning, the main portion of most lakes had more open water than ice on them.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
Ice has taken hold on some bays and small, shallow lakes. A few people have been checking ice conditions and report about 3 inches on the top end on those areas that have been capped longest. Lakes such as Rabbit and Serpent were mostly open as of Tuesday morning.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle
DETROIT LAKES AREA
The lakes are ice-covered, even the bigger bodies of water, but it was still pretty skinny early this week. There’s been a few anglers checking ice depths on some small lakes and bays, which will be the first to see foot traffic, but it wasn’t ready to go early this week.
Quality Bait & Tackle (218) 844-2248
There has been some anglers walking on a couple of small lakes such as Rice and starting to fish. Reports have been minimal and the few people going out are finding 3 to 4 inches of ice. The bigger lakes and reservoirs have some thin ice but still sections of open water as well.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
EAST CENTRAL MN
Some lakes are ice covered, but it was a thin layer early this week, and nothing close to walking on at this point. The larger lakes such as Blue and Green were wide open as of Tuesday morning.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop
Lake conditions vary from open water or skim ice on some bigger lakes to just over 3 inches in some bays. The ice that was already in place has snow on top of it and some slush, but the areas that capped a bit later have solid ice conditions. There should be some walkable ice and fishing opportunities by this weekend.
Arrowhead Outdoors (218) 365-5358
All area lakes have locked up since last week, but ice conditions vary throughout the area. There’s been a few anglers checking ice depths and with the right weather, some safe, walkable ice could form by this weekend, but check it as you go.
Lake Country Convenience & Bait
GRAND RAPIDS/DEER RIVER AREA
Ice has taken hold on most of the area’s small lakes and bays, but there wasn’t a lot of it as of Tuesday morning. There’s been a few people poking around, checking ice depths on some of those traditional, early ice spots, but they weren’t quite thick enough to walk on. Lakes such as Deer, Moose, and Big Cutfoot still had pockets of open water early this week.
Fred’s Live Bait (218) 246-8710
GREY EAGLE AREA
Ice has started to take hold on some bays and small, shallow lakes, but it was pretty thin early this week. Open water was also evident on several large lakes. Look to those areas that are already capped to possibly have enough ice to walk on soon, but caution is advised with warmer weather expected throughout the week.
Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405
Anglers have started checking ice conditions and walking on a few small lakes and bays, but there hasn’t been any reports of fishing. The small, shallow lakes have been ice-covered for about a week, but it hasn’t thickened much. Lakes of medium size are partially capped and the bigger, deep lakes still had quite a bit of open water early this week.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle
Ice now covers the bays and some small, shallow lakes. A few people have been checking ice depths on those spots that have been capped longest, but here hasn’t been any fishing taking place. Reports indicate 3 inches of ice on the top end and some open water on the area’s bigger lakes.
The One Stop (218) 363-2252
MADISON LAKE AREA
The majority of small lakes and bays have 3 to 4 inches of ice and some limited fishing options do exist. Anglers have started walking on a few lakes, but reports of success have been limited. Use caution as you go and there was still pockets of open water on some of the area’s larger lakes early this week.
Corner Bait (507) 243-4464
Knife Lake and Fish Lake are completely capped with ice, but fishing activity has been minimal. There has been a few people venturing out, not far from shore, and mainly checking ice conditions. The area’s bigger lakes have varying conditions from pockets of open water to skim ice.
Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop
It appeared as though all of Big Stone Lake was covered with ice early this week. There are some spots with rough ice or areas that capped later due to the wind, but the process seems to be headed in the right direction. There wasn’t any fishing to report as of Tuesday morning, but walking out might not be too far away on some parts of the lake.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
The majority of small, shallow lakes or bays are now ice-covered, but there wasn’t enough of it to walk on as of Tuesday morning. It’s weather dependent, but there could be a few of those early ice spots thick enough to walk on by this weekend. The big lakes still have a ways to go with skim ice and open water on most.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors
There’s been a few anglers walking on some of the small lakes or bays and finding up to 4 inches of ice in some areas. While some fishing has started, it was very limited early this week. The big lakes only have portions with skim ice or they remained mostly open as of Tuesday morning.
Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355
RED WING AREA
The cold weather really limited boat traffic on the Mississippi River over the past week. Once it warms a bit, walleyes and sauger should continue to be caught from the High Bridge to the dam around wing dams and current seams. Three-way rigs and stickbaits or blade baits will produce fish. There isn’t much for ice on Lake Pepin or any of its connected bays or backwater areas.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA
With the exception of some pockets of open water and some big, deep lakes still being mostly open, the majority of local lakes are now capped with ice. A few people have been checking conditions and they reported 2 to 3 inches of ice early this week. There hasn’t been any fishing to report, but that could change by this weekend.
Channel Marine and Sports
SAUK CENTRE AREA
There’s 3 to 4 inches of ice on some small, shallow bays and some very limited fishing has started. There was still a lot of open water around the area early this week with lakes such as Sauk at least two-thirds open.
Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155
STAPLES/LITTLE FALLS AREA
There’s been a few anglers walking on some bays or small, shallow lakes and finding 3 to 4 inches of ice. Limited fishing has started, but reports have been limited, and extreme caution is advised due to varying ice depths. The bays on the big lakes such as Fish Trap and Alexander have ice on them, but the main body of these lakes were ice-free as of Tuesday morning.
Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056
Lake Minnewaska was mostly covered as of Tuesday morning with a thin layer of ice. A few anglers have started walking on some small lakes or bays with 2 to 4 inches of ice being found in some areas.
Last Cast Bait and Tackle
There’s ice in place on many lakes, but it’s pretty skinny. There were a few people walking out on some of the small ponds or sloughs, but it is not advised, especially with warmer weather expected this week.
Borch’s Sporting Goods