Satellite imagery showed the U.S. side of Lake of the Woods mostly locked in ice early this week, with the exception of Four-Mile Bay near the mouth of the Rainy River and a tiny patch of adjacent water on the other side of Lighthouse Gap, where Four-Mile Bay gives way to the main portion of Lake of the Woods. Heavy cloud cover obstructed the satellite view of the lake Tuesday but the image here offers a good look at the extent of the ice cover on the Minnesota portion of the lake.
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Earlier today, though, Frank Walsh of Bay Store Camp on Oak Island near the Minnesota-Ontario border sent a picture he took from his living room window showing a large patch of open water between Oak and Flag islands. There’s a fair bit of current that flows between the two islands, and it’s treacherous even in the depths of winter, but the open water is an encouraging sign during this spring that promises to offer some of the latest ice-outs on record across the region. Walsh said he’s also seen deer falling through the ice, which is a good indicator that conditions are changing rapidly.
Meanwhile, Randy Hiltner, northeast district fisheries supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Devils Lake, said the big lake remains locked in ice with the exception of some open water under the bridges. The coulees are just starting to run north of Devils Lake, he said, and fishing up there is likely a week or so away. Given the abundance of fish-attracting current that will be flowing through the ditches, anglers can expect strong runs of walleyes and pike this spring. It likely will be worth the wait.