Here’s my assessment of ice conditions on Lake of the Woods:
It’s disappearing fast.
Clouds have obscured a good view of satellite imagery most of the week, but today’s photo of Lake of the Woods shows most of Big Traverse Bay in U.S. waters is open, and the ice that remains has drifted into Muskeg Bay on the west side of the Lake near Warroad, Minn., and the southwest half of Buffalo Bay in Manitoba waters.
There’s also a small patch of lingering ice near Long Point, but right now, I’d say the stars are aligning for the big lake to be ice-free early this coming week, if not yet this weekend.
Ice-out on Lake of the Woods was in a holding pattern after unseasonably warm March temperatures triggered an early end to ice fishing. At that point, I was predicting an ice-out similar to 2012, when the U.S. portion of Lake of the Woods was declared ice-free April 8, according to historical records the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources publishes on its website.
I remember that spring especially well, because we were boat fishing north of Pine Island on April 14, the last weekend of the spring walleye season on Minnesota-Ontario border waters.
I also remember the fishing, which bordered on spectacular.
A similar scenario seemed to be taking shape this spring, but that all changed in April, and cool, dreary weather dominated the month and put the ice-out on hold.
Now, it appears, ice-out on Lake of the Woods is on track with the median ice-out date of May 2. According to DNR records, the earliest ice-out on Lake of the Woods since 1985 occurred in 2012, and the latest ice-out was recorded in 2014, when the DNR said the lake wasn’t ice-free until May 21.
The DNR’s page on lake ice-out dates contains a wealth of information on lakes throughout the state. You’ll find the page here. The MODIS Today, website, which provides daily satellite images of the entire U.S., is available here.