Dreaming of a white Christmas?

Published 9:23 am Saturday, December 25, 2010

If you’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas, it is not a dream but the real thing. I am a traditionalist and I truly look forward to having a white Christmas every year. For those of us who have been patiently waiting for the first day of winter – it’s officially here, although with all the snow it was hard to tell when winter really started. I’m sure that you may have detected just a hint of sarcasm in that statement, and I’ll explain why. We seem to be well on the way to some sort of record snowfall for the month of December and the snow blower that I only used a couple of times last year has already gotten used three times this year. This in itself is not newsworthy but now that I needed to use it once again it decided to go belly-up. If I had a blade for the snow blower I could probably use it as a plow but alas for now it is nothing more than a walk behind exercise machine.

This has meant that I have had to once again bring my old friend the “scoop” out of semi-retirement and back to active duty. The old snow scoop is pretty rickety, but like the operator it still gets the job done. There is always some self-satisfaction out of shoveling but I was finding that when I used the snow blower I don’t have sore muscles or an aching back and there is a certain amount of satisfaction in that.

Here are a few things that I am starting to wonder what I’d ever do without if they stopped happening. What will I do if Brett Favre retires (again and again) and the starting quarterback status is announced before game time – wow wouldn’t that take all the suspense out of the season? What would I do if the media people ever quit telling me how to dress and drive in the winter? How could I maneuver my vehicle through town if I lost my ability to guess which way the turn-signal-impaired person in front of me is going to turn? What will I do for exercise if it ever stops snowing?

There have been quite a few more fish houses popping up on our area lakes but caution must still be used. With the unstable weather conditions we have had even thicker ice can have unsafe pockets of slush. This was evidenced by a snowmobile falling through the ice on Fountain Lake that was on what was considered ice that was plenty thick. With this in mind I would be ever so cautious about driving any type of vehicle out on the ice.

Mark, a friend of mine took his 4-wheeler out on the east end of Albert Lea Lake the other day to check the thickness of the ice. He said that although the overall thickness was good there were pockets of slush by Big Island. Ice snow rain, snow and ice can make ice unsafe in places and if you put a blanket of snow over that it can become very dangerous. From the fishing reports that I have heard the ice is a lot more stable in the northern part of the state.

I guess if I wanted to fish at this time I’d use a portable fish house or just a bucket instead of driving a vehicle out there. I may be a little too cautious at times but on the other hand I don’t think you can ever be too cautious when it comes to safety and venturing out on a lake.

A few years ago I was talking to a fellow that I had met at the access on one of the many small lakes in the area by our cabin. He started to tell me about the time he was fishing in South Dakota and his pickup went through the ice. He went to his car and took out two binder sheets with pictures of the salvaging of his truck by divers. He said that he was lucky because he was able to escape the vehicle before it was completely submerged. When he took those photos out to show me I could tell that it was an experience that he’ll never forget. He said he was just lucky to be standing there talking to me.

As far as local fishing reports I’ve heard that there is a pretty steady perch bite in the channel and some walleye are also being caught. It is pretty much a known fact that the best ice fishing is right after ice-over. The best fishing times for walleye should be low light or night fishing.

Here are a few fishing reports from around the state:

Mankato: This area received a pile of snow so fishing reports have been limited. Look to Lake Washington for crappies and sunfish in 12 feet towards First Point. Baker’s Bay and Mud Bay on Washington have produced panfish as well. Lake Hanska is producing some walleyes in about six feet of water.

Fairmont: You’ll find six to eight inches of ice, but not a lot of snow on most lakes. Tuttle Lake is producing perch in three to five feet and Lake Sissiton is having some crappie action in 14 to 18 feet. On Fox Lake, crappies also can be had in 14 to 16 feet early and late in the day.

Leech Lake: There is 10 to 12 inches of ice on most areas of the lake, with the exception of Walker Bay, where to six to eight inches has taken hold. Look to the GrandVu Flat area and Pine Point for perch in six to 10 feet. The first break in Walker Bay and the deep hole off Goose Island have been the best options for early ice

Rainy Lake: Anglers are working the Birch Point area of Sand Bay for walleyes in 24 to 28 feet. A few pike are being taken in shallow water in the smaller bays. Ice conditions are improving daily and anglers have just started to venture out. Look for more areas of the lake to be accessible by this weekend.

Lake Winnibigosh: With the exception of a few pressure ridges, the lake is in good shape with 10 to 12 inches of ice. There hasn’t been much fishing pressure due to the cold, but the anglers going out are finding walleyes and perch on the sunken island in 21 to 23 feet. You’ll also find perch in eight to 10 feet in front of the West Winnie Campground.