The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 24, 2014

Searching for spring -- and open water


But forget about launching the boat. “There’s still 15 inches of ice on the lake,” he said.

Further, with shoreline conditions quickly deteriorating, venturing out on the lake proper could be a dicey proposition. “I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

Instead, his business is mainly with the anglers who are savoring some pretty good walleye fishing on the ice-free Des Moines River that flows through Saylorville Reservoir.

So if you still insist on launching that boat to wet a line, even further south we must travel.

About 240 miles later, in Stoutsville in northeast Missouri, Wanda Turner was busy last week sprucing up ChiggerHill Bait and Tackle near Mark Twain Lake after locking it up last fall.

“We weren’t planning on opening until the next weekend, but the local fishing club called to tell me they were holding their crappie tournament this weekend,” she said. “The ice went out on the lake last week.”

“We had as much as 10 inches of ice on the big ponds around here so there was probably at least as much on the big lake,” she said, adding that having that much ice in northeast Missouri is rare indeed.

“It’s been a tough winter and having all of those 4- and 5-degree days we had is pretty unusual,” she added.

And when it comes to ice-fishing, an infrequent occurrence in her neck of the woods, discretion always is the better part of valor.

“A few people might venture out on some of the small coves to ice-fish but it’s not recommended,” Turner said, explaining that fluctuating water levels resulting from the operation of a power plant on Mark Twain Lake makes venturing on to the ice extremely hazardous, even in the coldest of winters.

And the fishing?

Too early to tell, she said. Last year, the crappie fishing, for which the lake is known, wasn’t all that good for a variety of reasons.

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