Ice fishing action is heating up as ice begins to get thicker

Published 9:09 am Friday, November 28, 2008

The weather for Thanksgiving Day was decent and the thin sheet of ice that is covering our area lakes has brought out the fishermen. There have been quite a few portables on the channel by Frank Hall Park and a lot of fishermen just sitting in the open air. Remember that the ice is still not safe enough for vehicles and the car washes are open if yours does need a bath. According to some of the fishing reports from around the state ice has formed on most smaller lakes and with the exception of most bays which are already covered, it is just beginning to cover the main parts of the larger lakes.

As a kid I always enjoyed walking the slough on North Bridge Street soon after the ice had formed. We never fished then, but just explored the vast new world that had been opened to us. We had countless adventures on that old slough and would walk for miles just enjoying being able to explore the places that we couldn’t get to during the other seasons. It was always a great time to be able to follow the “crick” from Bancroft Bay to Goose Lake and this long adventure would take most of a day and was one that I can recall only doing once or twice a winter. The rest of the days were spent exploring the part of the slough that was closer to home. There was something intriguing about standing on ice so clear that you could see the water moving beneath it. Although this experience did bring about an occasional soggy pant leg accompanied by a boot full of water, it all seemed well worth it to a young adventurer.

This was a great time to look for critters that made the slough home during the winter months. I can remember seeing an occasional fox and lots of tracks that we’d try to associate with the critter that went along with them. There would always be that certain feeling of excitement that would envelope me whenever I’d see a critter that wasn’t usually visible in the summer months. It didn’t matter if it was the critter itself or just the tracks. There were even times when the tracks of someone’s dog were probably mistaken for wolf tracks. In all reality we knew that it wasn’t really a wolf but for that particular day it was indeed a wolf.

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The best thing about being a kid in those days was having a good imagination that would let you be whoever you wanted to be for that fleeting moment. These were fun times and the times of drippy noses, cold hands and wet feet we usually weren’t aware of until we were long into the day and pretty far from the comforts of home and the old heat register.

There was a TV show in the mid-50’s called “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.” The show starred an actor named Dick Simmons and would always start with the announcer belting out in a commanding voice, “And now it’s time for Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.” This would send me scurrying excitedly to the living room to get my place in front of the TV. Sergeant Preston was a Canadian Royal Mounted Policeman who traveled the Canadian Rockies in search of the villains on his horse Rex with his trusty dog King by his side. When they finally caught up with the bad guys he’d say, “I arrest you in the name of the crown.” In the summer he always rode Rex and in the winter he traveled by dog sled accompanied by the ever present King. He would close each show by saying, “Well King, this case is closed.” Whenever this character was featured on our old Zenith I would be glued to the set. We didn’t get many stations back then but there always seemed to be a good adventure show or western for a kid to watch. Something about that particular show made trekking through the slough on a wintry day seem extra special.

Musky Talk:

The second annual “Money for Muskies” banquet and silent auction of Minnesota’s Southern Crossroads Chapter 54 of Muskies Inc. will be Wednesday, Dec. 3, form 6 to 9 p.m. at the Eagles Club in Owatonna. Our speaker will be Steve Jonesi, a Mille Lacs musky and walleye guide, with lots of tips and spots to fish. A fun night with chicken and ribs buffet dinner, door prizes, raffles and silent auction etc. The event is open to the public and tickets are $20, kids 12 and under free with an adult. Call Scot at 1-507-451-7227, call now, seating limited. Call weekdays after 6 p.m. or see a member. Check our Web site Musky hunters bring a friend, need not be a member, help improve musky fishing in Southern Minnesota.

Following are a few reports on fishing and ice conditions from around the state:

WATERVILLE — Most of the lakes are covered with ice and a few anglers have started checking ice depths and fishing. You really have to watch the ice because most reports indicated that three inches is the most anyone was finding early this week. There’s also some open water and skim ice on a handful of lakes so call before heading out.

RED WING — Open-water fishing remains an option on the Mississippi River. Walleyes and sauger continue to be taken below the dam in 15 to 25 feet of water. Hair jigs tipped with minnows or Sonars are producing the majority of fish. Ice has started to form in the bays and on Lake Pepin making fishing these areas difficult.

ELY — You’ll find four to six inches of ice on the small lakes and bays. These areas have seen some foot travel by anglers who report limited success. There’s open water on most big lakes, but the small fisheries look favorable for fishing at this point.

BRAINERD/NISSWA — Some people have started venturing onto the small lakes in the area where three inches of ice has taken hold. There’s still plenty of open water in the area as well so caution is advised. Look to the shallow bays for pike in six to 18 feet of water with tip-ups and sucker minnows.

PARK RAPIDS — Ice conditions are looking good. Some bays and small lakes are starting to offer enough ice to walk on and there have been a few anglers on these areas already. With the exception of some deep spots on a few big lakes, everything was covered with a layer of ice as of Tuesday morning.

RED LAKE — Upper Red Lake appeared to be completely ice covered as of Monday afternoon. Some anglers are fishing close to shore where as much as five inches of ice is reported. A few walleyes had been caught in five to eight feet early this week on minnows or bright-colored jigging spoons and minnows.

Until next time, play safe, good hunting and enjoy the outdoors.

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