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Jarrid Houston column: No ice is safe yet; please be patient

Organizing gear, refilling tackle boxes, attending ice fishing shows are good ways to bide time.

Jarrid Houston
Jarrid Houston
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Although the rest of this week is supposed to be warmer, we need to accept the fact we are moving into winter.

The opening weekend of Wisconsin’s deer hunting season had us all bundled up in our tree stands with many hand warmers. It also had many of us wondering how the ice development period is going. As of this report, we have no safe, fishable ice! As I mention every year, don’t be the first to jeopardize safety for a fish. We all need to take it slow.

The weather helped cover up many shallow back bays and small bodies of water but we are still a long way from fishing ice, especially given the mild temperatures forecast for Thanksgiving weekend. If you are so inclined to go fishing, the best advice I can give is check in with our friends from Upper Red Lake as they will be letting foot traffic out of some resorts in the very near future. Otherwise, now is a good time to organize ice gear to be ready.

MORE FISHING COVERAGE IN NORTHLAND OUTDOORS:
All anglers have been safely evacuated from Upper Red Lake according to a 3:20 p.m. update from the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office.
For many who fish through holes in the ice, there’s an anticipation for that first ice fishing excursion that surpasses – dare I say – the attraction of getting in a boat for the first time after a long winter.
The annual event at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center is the unofficial kickoff to ice fishing season.
The DNR conducts the fall population survey over 17 days, beginning the Tuesday after Labor Day, setting 64 nets at sites across the Minnesota side of the lake from the south shore to the Northwest Angle.
Minnesota DNR finds nearly three times more little "herring" than any recent year.
The business brains who grew Field Logic and Ravin archery equipment hope to hit home run with Trika fishing rods.
Hank Kohler, who was the keynote speaker last March at the International Water Institute’s River Watch Forum at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, definitely has a gift for gab and a knack for telling a story.
Time for some deer hunting and the ice fishing shows before ice fishing starts for real.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of Nov. 14.
That fish must be between 21-23 inches or over 28 inches.

Let’s refresh a little ice safety: We need 4-5 inches for walkable safe ice. Make sure to check several spots and check often. Best ice is the hard, clear stuff. Wear a personal flotation device or float suit at all times, especially on early ice. Be in shape in case you ever had to pull yourself out. Push-ups, pull-ups and sit ups, as well as conditioning do help. Dress warm and consider bringing extra clothes in case of an emergency. Tell someone where you're going and when you’ll be back and also try and fish with a buddy or buddies. Bring along the general ice safety equipment including, but not limited to: ice picks, rope, a throwable float, spud bar/chisel, working cellphone and/or radio, a safe game plan and common sense. Never push your limits. Many have heard me say it before, but, if it doesn’t feel right, chances are it probably isn’t.

Quick report: Ice is certainly forming on small ponds and shallow bays. Fishing has not been an active sport this week on account of deer hunting. A very few die hard anglers are getting out, but we have not heard of any success. For those that are still deer hunting, great luck!

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And we will end with one question: What are you thankful for? My quick answer: I'm thankful for health, family, fishing and hunting! Happy Thanksgiving everyone, see ya in the woods and on the water.

Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide ( houstonsguideservice.com ) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.
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