What a difference a year makes

The temperature hovered near 0 degrees Tuesday morning, and I couldn’t help but think back on what I’d been doing a year to the day earlier.

On March 26, 2012, two friends and I launched my boat at the Wheeler’s Point access near the mouth of the Rainy River to fish walleyes in Four-Mile Bay, the part of Lake of the Woods that picks up where Rainy River leaves off.

Bob Glassmann (right) of Roseau, Minn., and Jason Laumb of Grand Forks weathered the cold and a stiff southeast wind to catch walleyes from a boat March 26, 2012 near the mouth of the Rainy River. This year, the same area remains buried under a thick layer of ice and snow. (Brad Dokken photo)

The weather wasn’t particularly nice that day, and a stiff southeast wind kept us bundled up against the cold, but we were in a boat on Lake of the Woods in March, barely a long cast from the Ontario border.

This year, by comparison, we could have driven to the spot with a snowmobile. Perhaps even a truck, if the snow had settled enough to keep us from getting stuck.

The winter of 2012 was a nonevent as North Country winters go, and spring came earlier than usual. But I couldn’t help but marvel at the contrast in conditions.

I also found myself longing for the opportunity to fish from a boat again, the relaxing sound of the water lapping against the hull.

Despite the blustery weather, fishing was pretty darn good during last year’s March open water debut. Anchored in about 10 feet of water, action was just fast enough to keep things interesting and we didn’t move the entire day. We boated about 20 walleyes up to 27 inches in length and missed our share of others.

Spring seems a long way off as I write this, but a report I saw this afternoon on the Clementson Resort website offered cause for optimism. Ice-out on the Rainy River is way behind last year’s early start, but the resort, located along the river east of Baudette, Minn., posted photos on its website showing anglers dragging small boats across the ice at Birchdale, Minn., about 30 miles upstream from Baudette, to access open water.

No word on the fishing, but the sight of open water, even though it was only a sliver, was encouraging just the same. With warmer weather in the forecast and ample flows, open water on the Rainy should work its way downstream at a steady clip during  the next few days.

See for yourself by clicking here.

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