Even with the cold snap, it’s the time of year to use extreme caution when venturing out on the ice.
I was talking to Frank Walsh of Bay Store Camp on Oak Island of Lake of the Woods earlier this morning, and he said he knows of four vehicles and a snowmobile that have gone through the ice up there in the past few days.
Nobody hurt, but a big inconvenience just the same. Best not to take chances.
“If not for the cold, it would be totally over,” Walsh said.
A sign has been posted at Young’s Bay on the Northwest Angle mainland cautioning people they’re traveling at their own risk and to call ahead to their destination for the most up-to-date conditions before venturing onto the ice. Stakes that marked the trail are gone with the melting snow and the gale force winds that pounded the region earlier this week.
Current areas pose the biggest risk, and a few key spots have caused most of the problems.
Walsh said he opted to err on the side of caution and pulled his rental houses off the ice for the season and put the Bombardier tracked vehicle in storage. A group was scheduled to arrive Monday and stay until Friday, Walsh said, but he called and told them he was shutting down for the season.
“If it was this weekend, I’d maybe nurse it out,” Walsh said. “I only had two houses left so I pulled those in Thursday. The cold has really helped as there was a lot of water on the trail” in places.
The season came to an early end last year, too, he said.
Explore Minnesota in its weekly Friday statewide fishing report issued this advice for late-season ice anglers, regardless of their destination. It’s good advice for anglers fishing North Dakota waters, as well:
“Recent warm temperatures, rain, and wind caused lake ice to deteriorate rapidly. As a result, walking is now the best mode of travel in areas where ice fishing remains an option. While the current, more seasonable temperatures may extend the ice fishing season another week or so on lakes in northern Minnesota, it is imperative that all anglers consult with a local bait shop or resort for the most current ice conditions before heading out. Please take a moment to review the information found on the DNR’s Ice Safety Guidelines web page. For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR’s Fish Minnesota web page.”
So there you have it. If you’re heading out on the ice, be safe. No point in taking stupid chances and putting a vehicle through the ice or, even worse, risking injury or death.