REGIONAL— The good news is that it’s now less than a month to fishing opener. The bad news is that up to three feet of solid ice remained on many area lakes as of this week. And with no dramatic …
REGIONAL— The good news is that it’s now less than a month to fishing opener. The bad news is that up to three feet of solid ice remained on many area lakes as of this week. And with no dramatic warmup in the extended forecast, the prospect for open water on most of the region’s larger lakes in time for the May 12 opener is looking increasingly slim.
And this year, the North Country may have plenty of company. As the Outdoor News reported this week, the ice is close to 50 inches thick on some parts of the Lake of the Woods, with as much as three feet reported on Lake Bemidji in northwestern Minnesota. Lakes in central Minnesota still have as much as two feet of ice. And most places still have plenty of snowcover that will need to melt before the sun can begin to thaw lake ice.
“And we need some nights above freezing,” said John Niemeste at Aronson Boat Works on Vermilion’s Pike Bay. Niemeste had hoped to have open water by the end of April, but he now predicts it won’t arrive on Pike Bay until the first week of May. He’s predicting the third week of May for the rest of the lake. The average ice-out date for Vermilion is April 30.
As of Friday, Stuntz Bay on Lake Vermilion had 34 inches of rock solid ice.
It’s a safe bet that ice-out on Lake Vermilion will be later than usual this year. The only question is how much later, and whether it will impact the fishing opener, like it last did in 2014 and 2013, when most of the big lake was still ice-bound right up until mid-May.