The Free Press, Mankato, MN


February 23, 2014

Cross column: Fishing season ends, winter season doesn't

Lordy, but it’s been a long, long winter.

And by the looks of the forecast, it’s not ending anytime soon.

Piling insult on to injury, more sub-zero temperatures are predicted on the heels of this latest storm.

(And yes, I would like a glass for this whine — and make it a tall one, thank you.)

Not that it matters too much, but today marks the end of the gamefish season for Minnesota’s inland waters.

From now until the season reopens on May 10, anglers will make panfish their targets for the rest of what most likely will be an extended ice-fishing season.

Hardly a comforting point of reference, ice-out records kept by the Lake Washington Association list the earliest ice-out dates for that popular lake as March 8 in 1987 and again in 2000.

Last year, the ice-out date officially occurred on April 19. This year? Who knows?

Travel conditions on many area lakes in recent weeks have grown increasingly difficult to the point that even 4x4s are having difficulty getting around. Shovels definitely need to be carried.

In some cases, most prudent anglers have discovered it pays to travel in pairs so that one vehicle can use one of those stretchable snatch straps to extricate the other from snowbanks.

Ice shelter owners who haven’t visited their fishing abodes recently likely will be in for an unpleasant surprise when they attempt to remove them.

Already last week, retrieving shelters that were well off the beaten path through the deep snow was becoming a difficult proposition.

But now, after this latest winter blow, getting them off the lake will be even more of a challenge.

The deadline for removing them in the southern two-thirds of Minnesota is March 3. Anglers in northern reaches of the state have until March 17.

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