Winter 2023 – The Year Of Terrible And Treacherous Minnesota Lakes
It has not been a good year for making ice on Minnesota Lakes. We started out with the snowiest December on record for many places in the state. That created a thick layer of insulation on the ice that already formed, preventing ice from thickening like it normally would.
Then came more heavy wet snow. Then we had rain in January earlier this week and temperatures approaching 40 degrees in some areas.
Anglers eager to ice fish have been running into slushy problems in many spots, and conditions didn't get a chance to improve with this recent warm spell. In fact, they got worse in some areas.
Chase Bullock posted some photos of what the lake was like after all the rain. The pictures are from the St. Cloud area. Chase says there's lots and lots of slush.
According to Chase, on January 17, there were 9 inches of good ice and 5 inches of bad ice. The real problem is getting around on the slushy lakes. Snowmobiles or vehicles with tracks seem to be the only way to go.
I've read a lot of posts by frustrated anglers that just want to get their new gear out on the hard water. I'm one of them. I bought a brand new fancy Clam flip-over icehouse and have barely had a chance to use it. I feel bad for those people who bought a brand-new ice castle or glacier this year. They may not get a chance to use it.
Snowmobilers need to be careful on the lakes as well. Lots of riders are out with the deep snow base that we have, but it is causing problems on the lakes too.
There still is enough snow base for snowmobilers on trails, it's just if the swamps have frozen up. As of January 18, many swamp areas in Minnesota haven't frozen solid. That means slush, open water, and wet boots for those people who don't make it across.
I talked to snowmobilers who have been riding in the Duluth area recently. The swamps are not frozen yet, and there have even been creeks with running water that sleds have needed to maneuver around.
Further north, Lake Vermilion area snowmobile clubs are warning about heavy slush on the lakes, even by the staked route. Big snowdrifts are also causing problems. Cook Timberwolves describe the lake conditions as "crazy and adverse."
The Vermilion River, which is the quickest way to get to Crane Lake has opened up in a section, according to the Buyck Portageurs Snowmobile Club.
So if you are going out on a lake, make sure you are prepared and talk to someone local who knows the conditions. Keep your fingers crossed for colder temps. The good news is that it won't be above freezing for a while. Temperatures look to be getting to highs in the 20s for most of the state.
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