The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Outdoors

May 4, 2014

Northern lakes may not be ready for opener

Averages are the result of extremes.

And when it comes to average ice-out dates on Minnesota lakes, nature has been at both ends of extreme in just the past two years.

For example, in 2012, the ice officially went out on Lake Winnibigoshish on March 30, the earliest date on record.

Last year, the pendulum swung far in the opposite direction, setting a new record for the latest ice-out on May 17, eclipsing the previous record of May 10.

Usually full and bustling with activity on the opening weekend of the Minnesota fishing season, resorts in northern Minnesota were quiet places last year as lingering ice-cover on popular walleye destinations short-circuited many anglers’ long-standing tradition of heading north.

Many anglers opted instead to stay home or head to southern Minnesota lakes that already were ice-free.

This year, lakes in southern Minnesota lost their ice cover in mid-April, about 7 to 10 days behind average ice-out dates.

While south-state anglers might find things a little behind schedule in terms of water temperatures and fish activity and even evidence of fish kills on some waters, the opener should be business as usual with lakes and access sites in good shape.

But good news for anglers and resort owners in northern reaches of the state, with the exception of some locations in the extreme north, most lakes, including popular walleye fisheries like Winnibigoshish, Leech and Mille Lacs, also should be open for business Saturday when the Inland Waters Fishing Season opens.

“A lot of the smaller lakes around here already are open, and the ice is pushing around right now on Winnie, it’s opening up along the edges” said Richard Leonhardt of High Banks Resort, last week.

“We’re fairly optimistic the lake will be open (by Saturday).”

Leonhardt said that in spite of the lingering chilly weather, everything is a lot further along than it was last year at this time.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Outdoors
  • mfp sports jcross outdoor column 7-20 Chasing walleyes in South Dakota nice We slowed to a crawl the other day on the dusty Day County township road in northeast South Dakota, a courtesy to the farmer who was baling ditch hay south of Webster.Otherwise, we would have enveloped him as he drove his open tractor in the choking

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fishing report Outlook on area lakes

    July 6, 2014

  • Cross column: No wake, no fish ... no problems on the water Patience is always a virtue when fishing.

    July 6, 2014

  • Cross column: Where does the buck stop in your home?

    Displaying your trophy catch can be debatable

    June 29, 2014

  • Know Your Lakes: Series maps

    Missed out on the weekly lake preview Wednesday's in the print edition? That's ok, we have you covered here. View the series thus far and download a printable PDF.

    May 24, 2011

  • Storms came at horrible time for pheasants For pheasants and pheasant hunters, there were no silver linings to be found in the storm clouds that inundated the countryside with heavy rains this week.A foot of rain falling in just a week is never good, but for pheasants, it came at precisely th

    June 22, 2014

  • Early morning is beautifully lonely Benjamin Franklin was on to something when he extolled the benefits of "early to bed, early to rise." While I can't vouch for its effect on health, wealth or wisdom, rolling out of the sack certainly seems to pay dividends for outdoor activities. The

    June 15, 2014

  • mfp sports cross column 6-1 Cross: Take a kid fishing, no license needed A few years ago, while cruising with a co-worker through an area community on a steamy summer day, we passed a vacant lot. There, oblivious to the heat and humidity, a group of kids were playing a game of pick-up baseball, racing down well-worn paths

    June 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cross: Once upon a time, when fishing was simple... Once upon a time, fishing was a pretty simple affair. A rod-and-reel, some bait and tackle, perhaps a rowboat if you were lucky, and you were in business. While the basic premise of angling -- to catch fish -- remains, it sure seems to have grown mor

    May 25, 2014

  • mfp sports jcross opening day 2 Almost too nice to catch Leech Lake walleye LEECH LAKE -- Opening day of the Minnesota fishing season on Leech Lake arrived Saturday, cloudless and with nary a breath of wind. It was the nice weather one might expect all winter-weary anglers to embrace as we motored away from harbors, resorts

    May 11, 2014 2 Photos