Lake of the Woods
Lake of the Woods is locked up with ice, but there still are a few open spots, Lake of the Woods Tourism reports in its weekly update. Some local guides have ventured out finding varying ice conditions. There's a bit of rough ice near shore, but it's not bad, Lake of the Woods Tourism said; water clarity appears to be good, and guides testing the ice are catching fish. Resorts will be out measuring ice thickness and assessing ice conditions during the week. Safety is the No. 1 priority. On an average year, resort fish houses get out on the main lake around Dec 10.
ATVs and collapsible fish houses will get out a bit earlier based on when resorts who maintain ice roads feel it is safe. When resorts open ice roads, anglers should stay on marked trails for safety.
Up at the Northwest Angle, the lake is mostly frozen, although there's still some open water in current areas. Resorts are checking ice conditions and starting to mark initial trails but the ice isn't ready to access yet, the report said.
The main lake has ice, but a few spots have opened up with recent warmer temperatures, Tanner Cherney of Devils Lake Tourism reported Wednesday. Anglers should use extreme caution because conditions can vary from day to day. Farther north in the basin, Lake Alice and Lake Irvine have 6 inches to 10 inches of ice in most areas, Cherney said, but there were reports of people using ATVs going through the ice last weekend. Until cooler weather descends to improve ice conditions, caution remains the buzzword.
Upper Red Lake
The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office is warning people to stay off of Upper Red Lake because of unsafe ice conditions. Recent warm weather and high winds have led to "extremely poor ice conditions" that continue to deteriorate on Upper Red Lake. Ice has broken up in several areas, causing large areas of open water. "Anyone attempting to go onto the ice does so at their own risk," a Thursday news release from the sheriff's office said.
Statewide, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also issued a warning Thursday asking the public to steer clear of early, thin ice as temperatures remain above freezing.
According to the DNR news release, recent fluctuations in weather have caused ice conditions to degrade, though ice began to form in certain areas nearly a month ago. Public safety officials say people should stay off frozen bodies of water until there is at least 4 inches of new, clear ice.
The DNR news release cited the recent deaths of two anglers on Upper Red Lake as an example of the dangers of thin ice. Melissa Seidenstricker, 30, and Zeth Knyphausen, 29, both experienced anglers, had been fishing on Upper Red Lake on Saturday, but fell through the ice about a mile from shore. After hours of searching, rescuers recovered Seidenstricker's and Knyphausen's bodies from the lake Monday.
Several other emergency ice rescues have been necessary statewide over the past few weeks, the DNR's release said.
Area skiing report
• Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: Machine groomed, with a 6- to 18-inch base; 5 inches of new snow in the past week. Info: (218) 243-2231 or bvskiarea.com.
-- Herald staff report