A screeching halt to ice fishing

Blame the sudden and brutal arrival of spring — that’s  what winter enthusiasts would call it, at least — but ice fishing across the region is coming to a screeching halt.

On Lake of the Woods, resorts along the south shore are scrambling to pull their houses off the ice. Staff from Sportsman’s Lodge said in an email report that they’re going to call it quits for ice fishing after today. Ice roads are closed to trucks and still open to ATVs, but that could change in a hurry, as well.

Gary Moeller of Ballard’s Resort said all of the resort’s rental houses will be off the lake by Thursday evening. “Spring has sprung,” Moeller wrote in the resort’s fishing report. “Too much rain and unseasonably warm weather.”

Anglers looking to fish on their own should check with area resorts or bait shops before venturing onto the ice.

The story is similar on Devils Lake. Kyle Blanchfield of Woodland Resort wrote Tuesday on the resort’s website that all of its rental houses would be off the ice by Tuesday, and the Perch Patrol Guide Service would be ending all guide trips by Thursday. Blanchfield said two trucks and two ATVs went down Monday.

The upside, if there is one, is that boat fishing could be starting earlier than usual. Fishing on Devils Lake and elsewhere in North Dakota is open year-round, and I’ve heard reports of excellent open-water walleye fishing on the Missouri River in Bismarck. In Lake of the Woods country, the warm weather has accelerated the ice-out along the Rainy River, and it’s possible the river could be open at Birchdale, Minn., by next week. Walleye fishing on the Rainy River, Lake of the Woods and other Minnesota-Canada border waters is open through April 14. Lake sturgeon also are a popular choice for springtime boat anglers.

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