Ice conditions varied widely across the Northland last week from 10 inches of safe ATV ice on Upper Red Lake to unsafe ice for even walking on some deeper, larger lakes and most rivers in the northeast.
Meanwhile, heavy snow in some areas has not just insulated the ice, preventing more ice from forming, but it’s also forcing water up onto the surface, spurring slush and difficult traveling on lakes.
Avid Itasca County ice angler Greg Clusiau has been finding plenty of ice, 7-10 inches, on local lakes north of Nashwauk — with some slush, but not too bad. That area received less snow than the Twin Ports, and Clusiau says "everything is very doable with ATVs snowmobiles."
Better yet, he said, the panfish have been biting.
On Lake Kabetogama, where very little snow fell last weekend, reports of 8 inches of ice were common in shallow bays and and some spearing houses were going out.
On Fish Lake near Duluth, Tim Wagner at Hi Banks Resort said 9 inches of ice covers the eastern portions of the lake but that heavy snow and mild temperatures have prevented new ice from forming.
He said snowmobiles are venturing out near his resort, but that a pressure ridge, heavy snow and thinner ice kept most anglers off the open, western portion of the lake last week.
“We’re going to need a lot more cold weather before we get any vehicles (trucks) out on the ice,’’ Wagner said. “But they’re getting crappies, and some bluegills, and the spotty walleye here and there.”
On Upper Red Lake, anglers are walking or riding ATVs and snowmobiles out on about 10 inches of safe ice out of resorts on the southern shore and catching limits of walleyes. As of mid-week, there was still no ice fishing on the main lake at Lake of the Woods with open water still on the fast-flowing Rainy River.
So, be patient. More cold is coming this week. After above-normal temperatures in recent weeks, a substantial cool-down is forecasted for this week, with highs barely into the single digits and well below-zero lows, which should improve ice conditions everywhere.