Lakes in far northern Minnesota may still have ice on fishing opening – Reuters

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DULUTH — It won’t be as bad as it was in 1936, when Gunflint Lake didn’t lose its ice until June 3, the last ice outing on record for Minnesota. And it probably won’t be as bad as it was in 1950, when Vermilion and Leech weren’t released until May 23.

But the spring of 2022 could become some of the last ice for Minnesota’s far northern lakes, rivaling 1996 and 2013 for late modern records, and that could mean some lakes won’t be ice-free in time for the May 14 fishery in Minnesota. opener.

All northern Minnesota lakes exceeded their median ice dates, in some cases a week or more behind their long-term average. This is the report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources State Bureau of Climatology Ice Database, as a freezing winter and cold spring kept the ice on the lake much longer than usual. .

Gary Meader/Duluth News Tribune

As of Wednesday morning, with just 10 days to go until the fishing season opens, not a single lake north of Minnesota’s Highway 200 was officially ice-free.

The good news is that last weekend’s rain, coupled with a forecast of abundant sunshine and warmer temperatures, has caused many lakes to loosen at the edges and rot the white ice black. Meanwhile, Lac Mille Lacs lost its ice on May 2, a week behind average. But the lakes in the northern third of the state had a lot more ice, after a much colder winter, and had more snow for more weeks, shielding the ice from the sun.

“You have to melt the snow before you can melt the ice, and there was a lot of snow up north,” said Pete Boulay of the Minnesota State Bureau of Climatology.

The consensus is that most lakes south of US Highway 2 in Minnesota will be ice-free by May 14, while some lakes to the north will not. Anglers heading north should call bait shops, resorts and lake residents ahead of time to make sure their destination lake is open.

“It’s moving. Slowly. Big Sandy was opening this week – it could be out today – so it’s slowly moving north,” Boulay said Wednesday.

icebreaking 2022 May 3
A satellite photo taken May 3 shows most lakes south of Minnesota Highway 200 are ice-free, including Lake Mille Lacs, while all lakes north remained ice-covered. Many lakes in far northern Minnesota may still contain ice for the May 14 fishing opening.

Contribution / Minnesota State Bureau of Climatology

John Chalstrom, owner of Chalstroms Bait and Tackle in Duluth, said he was confident Duluth-area lakes will be open for the opening, “but north of here, all bets are off.”

The last lakes in Minnesota to lose their ice on average are the larger and deeper lakes along the Ontario border, especially along the Gunflint Trail. By midweek, they were showing no signs of letting up in time for the opener.

“The ice will more than likely be there for the opening and who knows how long after,” said Mike Berg of Seagull Creek Fishing Camp located near Seagull Lake, near the end of the Gunflint Trail. “It’s going to be a late start here.”

With 10 days to go, Berg said there was still snow on the ground, with side roads and landing stages still not open. The ice was clinging tightly to the shore on all the lakes, he said, even though the streams were starting to flow freely.

ducks on the lake with ice cream
On Tuesday, a pair of ducks approach a landing on Rice Lake Reservoir near Duluth. While there was open water near the outlet of the lake, most of Rice Lake remained covered in ice.

John Myers/Duluth News Tribune

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources crews set up docks at Lake Superior landings and along the St. Louis River estuary in Duluth. But they obviously have to wait for the ice to disappear before they can build docks on the inland lakes. Kevin Johnson, supervisor of MNR’s parks and trails division, said crews are monitoring Grand, Caribou and Rice lakes near Duluth for early icebreaking opportunities to install docks. These smaller, shallower lakes generally lose their ice before larger, deeper ones. lakes in the region.

The DNR oversees about 1,100 boat landings in the state. Minnesota Power and local governments also administer some landings.

dock ashore
The docks at the Rice Lake Reservoir landing near Duluth remained ashore Tuesday.

John Myers/Duluth News Tribune

John Myers reports on the outdoors, the environment and natural resources for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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