TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: Will the ice melt fast enough for walleye opener
Q. So is the ice going to be off Minnesota's lakes in time for Saturday's walleye opener? A. Boy, that's a tough one, and a question a lot of people are asking right now as many lakes across the state remain at least partially locked in ice. Part...
Q. So is the ice going to be off Minnesota's lakes in time for Saturday's walleye opener?
A. Boy, that's a tough one, and a question a lot of people are asking right now as many lakes across the state remain at least partially locked in ice.
Part of the question involves how you define ice-out. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, on some lakes, it's when navigating from Point A to Point B is possible; on others, it's when 90 percent of the lake is ice-free, and when it's completely gone in yet others.
In 1950, which is widely considered one of the latest ice-outs on record, the ice went off Lake Bemidji and Rainy Lake on May 22. In 1996, the year I ice fished opening day on Lake of the Woods, the ice went off the lake May 16, which is the latest ever documented for Lake of the Woods, the DNR says.
Nowhere, perhaps, are people watching the ice more closely than Park Rapids, Minn., which is the host site for this year's Governors Walleye Opener. According to the DNR, the ice in 1996 went off Big Sand Lake near Park Rapids on May 8, and before this year, the latest ice-out on Fish Hook Lake near Park Rapids was April 29. So, we're in uncharted -- ahem -- water on Fish Hook Lake going into opening day.
The optimist in me says the lakes near Park Rapids will be free of ice a couple of days before the opener, but that's entirely dependent on the sometimes cruel whims of Mother Nature. As for large lakes such as Lake of the Woods and Upper Red, I'd say it's a safe bet they'll be at least partially ice-covered. Four-Mile Bay of Lake of the Woods at the mouth of the Rainy River already has open water, while satellite images showed Upper Red still ice-locked early in the week.
For more information, including historical ice-out trends, check out the DNR website at mndnr.gov and then click the "2013 Lake Ice Out" link.
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