While my driveway and steps have plenty of ice on them the lakes in the northland aren’t quite as lucky. Since the new year began the temperatures haven’t dipped below the teens. According to locals last year at this time we were experiencing temperatures in the negative 20’s to negative 50’s. Those temperatures are much more conducive to making ice in the Boundary Waters.
Ice fishing in the BWCA opened and below are the reports from area Conservation Officers from the Minnesota DNR. I’ve also included a video shot by our neighbor on the Canadian Side of Saganaga Lake.
CO Sean Williams (Ely) reports ice conditions continue to improve on the lakes in the Ely area. Although several lakes that froze early are beginning to get large areas of slush. Snowmobile trail conditions are still poor, but many riders were seen over the holiday weekend. Violations included: operating a motor vehicle on a snowmobile trail, taking fish without a license, and taking fish with an unattended line.
CO Marty Stage (Ely) checked to see if anyone was heading into the BWCAW trout lakes, but common sense seems to have prevailed. Most of the lakes with open water have frozen over making the ice very irregular in thickness and dangerous. Most people have been very careful, but there were some snowmobile tracks running across a couple lakes. It would be best to stay off the ice for a while longer. It?s not worth your life.
CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reports a fairly active BWCA trout opener. Although the numbers of anglers were down inside the BWCA, several people were checked riding snowmobiles outside the BWCA as the officers traveled from lake to lake. Many of the smaller lakes had anywhere from four to twelve inches of ice reported while Saganaga and Gunflint still had areas of open water. Along with inconsistent ice conditions, keep in mind that the slush monster is starting to creep around on lakes with heavier snowfall on them. Some energetic folks cut the portage from Missing Link to Tuscarora. Enforcement action was taken for various angling and snowmobile violations.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) checked anglers on inland lakes and Canadian border waters. Trout opener was rather slow, but compliance was good. Ice conditions were extremely varied and overall ice thickness is considerably less than normal years. The officer also patrolled snowmobile trails and checked sledders. Conditions are improving as the local clubs are getting more trails open, but there are still areas that are not passable. CO Manning also checked ski passes and answered questions about snowmobile safety certification for adults.
CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) worked area snowmobile activity. Trails are in very poor condition. Time was also spent checking anglers for the BWCAW trout opener. CO Schottenbauer found poor ice conditions with more than a few spots of open water yet.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Tofte) checked anglers during the BWCAW trout opening weekend. The ice varied thickness from about 6 inches to open water throughout the area. Time was also spent on border lakes checking walleye anglers. Ice was sketchy there as well and caution is to be used on any lake. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile and angling violations.
CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked the BWCA trout opener in the Grand Marais station over the weekend. Many areas were inaccessible due to downed trees blocking trails from an earlier wet snow. Ice conditions on many area lakes remain sketchy with areas of thin ice. Enforcement action was taken for license violations.