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Outdoors report: Snow benefits skiing and snowmobiling, but it's beginning to cause access problems on some lakes

Lake of the Woods

Ice fishing remains good for mid-February, with a "nice mix" of walleyes and saugers, Lake of the Woods Tourism reported in its weekly update. Most anglers and resorts along the south shore are fishing 12 to 15 miles out, and 30 feet to 32 feet of water is the norm, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. Some good action also has occurred during the day in 15 to 20 feet of water for anglers who get away from the crowds, the report said. Ice is more than 30 inches thick in most areas, so anglers fishing on their own should have auger extensions handy. Some of the nicest walleyes again this week have been suspended in the water column, so electronics are useful.

Up at the Northwest Angle, anglers continue to report a mixed bag in 24 feet to 30 feet of water, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. The ice road from Young's Bay to Flag and Oak island resorts is open.

Devils Lake

Current reports are hard to come by, but Bry's Guide Service last week said dropper rigs tipped with waxworms or minnow heads were the ticket for perch in 32 to 38 feet of water. Best walleye action was during the morning and evening hours in 6 to 20 feet of water, with rattle spoons and blade baits working well. There's a lot of snow on the lake, and anglers who ventured off plowed roads with anything but tracked vehicles can expect a good workout, the report said.

Bemidji area

Heavy snow has hampered vehicle access on Bemidji-area lakes, Paul Nelson of Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service reports. Anglers with wheelhouses or permanent houses would be well advised to get the shelters off the ice early and rely on portables for the rest of the season. Slush is a problem on most lakes, Nelson said.

Fishing season for walleyes, northern pike and bass closes Feb. 24 on Minnesota inland waters, but the season for crappies, bluegills and perch is continuous.

Many anglers in February and early March turn their focus toward eelpout, which spawn under the ice and feed aggressively this time of year. Most eelpout stay tight to structure or steep breaklines with direct access to deep water, Nelson said.

Downhill skiing report

• Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: Machine groomed with a 32- to 60-inch base as of last update Feb. 11; 15 inches of new snow in the past seven days. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Presidents Day. Info: bvskiarea.com.

• Detroit Mountain Recreation Area near Detroit Lakes, Minn.: Packed powder, with a 32- to 70-inch base as of last update Feb. 11; 1½ inches of new snow in the past 24 hours and 13 inches of new snow in the past seven days. Info: detroitmountain.com.

Area trails update

• Turtle River State Park near Arvilla, N.D.: The Fisher Trail is packed and tracked, the Eco Trail is packed and the Whitetail (campground road) trail is packed and tracked from the Visitor center to the Hollows picnic area, the park reported Wednesday on its Facebook page. Conditions are "beautiful," the report indicated.

• Northeast North Dakota snowmobile trails: Snow has benefited riding conditions, but some trails or parts of trails remain closed. Check www.snowmobilend.org/trails for the latest updates on specific trail systems.

• Hayes Lake State Park near Roseau, Minn.: Fair skiing conditions, groomed with a 6-inch base; excellent snowmobiling conditions, with an 8-inch base and 6 miles groomed. Local snow depth 22 inches.

• Itasca State Park, Minn.: Very good skiing conditions, with an 8- to 10-inch base and 13 miles groomed; excellent snowmobiling conditions, with a 6-inch base and 31 miles groomed. Local snow depth 30 inches.

• Lake Bemidji State Park: Excellent skiing conditions, with a 6-inch base and 9 miles groomed; excellent snowmobiling conditions, with a 6-inch base and 3 miles groomed. Local snow depth 23 inches.

• Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.: Excellent skiing conditions, with a 5-inch base and 8 miles groomed; good snowmobiling conditions, with a 5-inch base and 3 miles groomed. Local snow depth 19 inches.

• La Salle Lake State Recreation Area near Solway, Minn.: Excellent snowmobiling conditions, with a 4- to 6-inch base that's groomed. Local snow depth 30 inches.

• Zippel Bay State Park on Lake of the Woods: Skiing conditions were very good, with a 7-inch base and partially groomed as of the last update Feb. 7, and additional snow has fallen since then. Snowmobiling conditions were very good, with a 7-inch base and 3 miles groomed. Local snow depth Feb. 7 was 19 inches.

-- Herald staff reports

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998.  A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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