Cold weather might mean icy lakes for state fishing opener

Associated Press

DULUTH — Anglers might be dealing with ice when

Minnesota’s walleye season opens in two weeks.

The Minnesota Office of Climatology says that as of Friday, all major lakes in the northern half of the state were officially ice covered. By this time last year almost all of Minnesota’s lakes were ice-free.

Ice-out hasn’t been a worry for the walleye opener since 1996. That year, many Minnesota lakes set their record for latest ice-out.


But a cool winter and spring means a later-than-normal ice-out for northern Minnesota and also for Wisconsin, where the fishing season opens Saturday, a week before Minnesota’s.

And there’s no sign of a warm-up. The National Weather Service in Duluth says temperatures will feel like late March through the last week of April.

Andy Mack, caretaker of Camp Nebagamon on Lake Nebagamon east of Superior, Wis., said ice-out in recent years has averaged about April 15. But Mack remains confident of ice-out before Wisconsin’s opener.

Recent rain helps eat away at the ice, even if the sun isn’t shining, Mack said.

"The sun and 70 degrees we had the other day really took its toll, and the wind and rain have been working on it the last couple days," Mack said of the lake ice. "We had about 32 inches of ice this year, so it’s taking a while to go. ... But it’s black and candling now so it’s just a matter of days."

In central Minnesota, ice-out is hitting about 12 days later than usual this spring. Lake Minnetonka, west of Minneapolis, became ice-free on April 23 compared with the 129-year average of April 11.

Big Sandy Lake near McGregor already is six days behind its usual ice-out date of April 20. But it won’t be ice-covered much longer. Big Sandy Lake Lodge said Friday that bays already are open and predicts the last ice will vanish by Monday, about eight days behind average.

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