Still lots of ice on the big northern Minnesota lakes

With the May 10 Minnesota walleye opener less than three weeks away, the lingering question among anglers and others with an interest in the big event is whether the ice is going to be off the lakes by opening day.

Satellite photo of Lake of the Woods (top) and Upper and Lower Red lakes taken Tuesday.

In the northern half of the state, it’s going to be a long shot, methinks.

The attached photo shows a satellite view of Lake of the Woods and Upper and Lower Red lakes taken Tuesday. As the Lake of the Woods image at the top shows, the Rainy River now is open through the channel in Four-Mile Bay, but the rest of the big lake remains locked in ice.

Ditto for Upper and Lower Red lakes. There appears to be some open water in the narrows between the two lakes, and the Tamarack River that flows into Upper Red at Waskish, Minn., is open but ice dominates the horizon on both bodies of water.

If I was a betting man, I’d put money on Lake of the Woods still having ice on opening day. There probably won’t be enough for ice fishing — as a group of us did off Graceton Beach in 1996 — but there’ll certainly be large patches of ice floating around.

Last year, the ice on Lake of the Woods and Upper Red went out on May 15. Will it be just as late this year? Stay tuned.

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