Cold weather good news for ice fishing

By Bill Bartusek, Columnist

Snow and cold air dominated this week’s forecast as we enter the first full week of December. For area anglers, the cold weather is good news. However, as of last Sunday, ice conditions locally were not favorable. Actually ice conditions had been better right after Thanksgiving when some angler got in a little early fishing.

Most lakes in our area have about 1/1/2 inches of ice and they are completely frozen over. Smaller bays will be the first areas that will be safe to fish with the arrival of cold weather.

Ice conditions all over the state vary quite a bit. In some areas, such as Bemidji, lots of snow covers the thin ice. This will slow down the ice making process quite a bit. In other areas, such as Brainerd, there isn’t much snow and ice conditions are much better. Anglers there are on the ice and they are enjoying good early ice action. For the most part, most of the large bodies of water in the state were not yet frozen over this past weekend. This may have changed by now, as the cold weather moved in . Barring windy conditions, these lakes should ice over and become safe to fish in no time flat.

As you venture out, keep in mind that area lakes have two scenarios. There is some old ice out there and then we have the more recent ice. Keep checking ice thickness as you walk out because once you get beyond the old ice, which is thicker, the new ice will be thinner. So don’t assume all the ice is the same.

I couldn’t find good ice last Sunday, so I opted to do some pheasant hunting in the snow. I was joined by good friends, Tom Odenthal and Steve Fisher, for a short hunt. We found lots of tracks and that led to lots of birds where we hunted. The roosters really held tight to cover, so you had to work slowly and give the dog plenty of time to work. We enjoyed a great day afield and harvested some birds. Had our shooting been better, more birds would have come home with us.

Congratulations to 12-year-old Billy Schuering on the harvest of his first deer ever, a nice doe!

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