OUTDOORS REPORT: Colder weather will improve ice conditions, but caution remains the buzzword
Lake of the Woods
The return of colder weather should help improve ice conditions. According to Lake of the Woods Tourism, ice conditions vary, but water clarity appears to be good, and that's a key factor in fishing success on the big lake. Resorts are out measuring ice thickness and assessing ice conditions when and where they can, Lake of the Woods Tourism reports. Back bays are frozen with 4 to 10 inches of ice in many areas, and there's some pike action, Lake of the Woods Tourism said.
The Northwest Angle part of the lake is frozen in most areas, with some local ATV travel on designated marked trails, and the ice is shaping up nicely, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. Resorts are checking ice conditions, marking trails and gearing up for placing houses very soon, the report said.
Ice is pretty iffy in a lot of places, and anglers venturing out should use extreme caution, Mark Bry of Bry's Guide Service advises. Ice conditions will improve with the onset of colder weather, but for now, walking remains the safest option in most places, Bry said. As Devils Lake Tourism reported last week, anglers have been fishing Lake Irvine and Lake Alice along with other smaller lakes farther north in the basin, but current reports have been hard to come by. Anyone venturing out should travel in pairs, wear flotation, carry ice picks and travel with caution. That holds true for any body of water when heading out on early ice.
Upper Red Lake
On the east side of the lake, West Wind Resort in Waskish, Minn., reports finding 11 inches of ice in most places and now is allowing smaller, single-axle wheel houses to be pulled by ATVs or side-by-side vehicles. The resort still has a border set up to keep people away from a pressure ridge, but most anglers have had their best walleye action in the first 1½ miles from shore in 7 feet to 9 feet of water, so getting out to deeper water isn't necessary anyway, the report said.
Meanwhile, Kyle Quittschreiber, a conservation officer for the Department of Natural Resources in Blackduck, Minn., on Monday recommended anglers stay off the ice on the south shore of Upper Red. Unlike the east side of the lake, much of the ice in that area was broken up, creating several large areas of open water, he said. Conditions should improve with the colder weather, but extreme caution is advised, and anglers should check with local resorts for the latest conditions before venturing out.
Area skiing report
• Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: 6- to 18-inch base, making snow, no new snow. Info: (218) 243-2231 or bvskiarea.com.
• Detroit Mountain Recreation Area near Detroit Lakes, Minn.: 3- to 18-inch base, making snow, no new snow. Info: (218) 844-7669 or detroitmountain.com.
• Grand Forks Greenway: Blizzard Axl provided a boost to winter recreation in the Greenway, but there's still not enough snow for grooming the cross-country ski trails, Greenway staff reported this week.
-- Herald staff reports