We finally have walkable ice in this area! Let me preface this by saying that I fish primarily Hubbard and Beltrami counties in north central Minnesota nowadays.
As for ice, it’s been a little bit of a roller coaster around here (especially in my local area). A few of the shallow lakes capped over last week, but with a couple of inches of snow on top – it’s been the cause of some significant inconsistencies. Until yesterday, lakes with any depth were still pretty much open.
After checking yesterday (Sunday, November 20, 2022) most shallow lakes seem to be frozen up well – especially where the snow hasn’t accumulated. Where there wasn’t much snow I was standing on a consistent 3-4” of ice. Of course remember to use a spud bar, ice cleats, picks, and a float suit before adventuring out, but usually, the bonds of the first ice are stronger than those after a thaw or end of the year. Also, keep that in mind as we warm up this next week (be careful!)
I was on a couple of lakes yesterday, one being Irvine by Bemidji. Like normal, it’s so shallow that it locked up quickly – while its sister lake, Lake Bemidji, is still completely open. You are going to find this pattern for a while yet – especially with the warmup on the way. Depth and current are going to be the 2 biggest factors right now.
Plenty of smaller but deeper lakes finally capped but were nowhere near walkable.
We didn’t spend much time fishing, but more time exploring! The feeling of walking on ice for the first time in the season is a fun one.
If we are lucky the snow and wind will stay away AND nights can stay in the 20’s. This will still build plenty of ice this time of year because the days are short and the nights are long.
Looking for The First Iced Up Lakes in Your Area
When looking for lakes this time of year, your best bet is to look for SHALLOW lakes (or shallow secluded bays). Lake size has minimal impact except in the windiest conditions. Otherwise, it’s all about depth. Shallow water holds less heat and requires less turnover. When looking for lakes (or shallow bays), pull up Navionics or the LakeMaster app – check the depth and if it’s shallow see if you can access it. It’s a simple strategy.
As per satellite imagery, you can see both Red and Lake of the Woods (see below) have started capping over. There have been plenty of reports from the resorts, almost all preparing to let people out at the end of this week (I will be out there). As of November 20th their latest updates included (and of course may change):
Beacons Harbor: This Wednesday the 23rd
West Winds: This Friday the 25th
Hillman’s: This Thursday the 24th
Rogers: This Friday the 25th
Lake of the Woods
River Bend Resort on Lake of the Woods posted a satellite image of the lake yesterday as well. It’s freezing over well. I know River Bend will start taking people out December 15th. I can only imagine most resorts in the area being on par with that.
I’ll be fishing Lake of the Woods at River Bend Resort the week of Christmas. You can use code Nicole2223 for 10% off your booking.