It’s hard to find the proper descriptor for the weather Minnesota has experienced over the past couple of years. Last year offered record heat (not complaining). This year, as anglers prepare for the fishing opener on May 11, they will need to watch the forecasts to indicate whether they might need to include an auger with their tackle to bore through some ice!
Only joking, of course, since thin ice can be very dangerous. Nonetheless, if you are planning to get out on the lake this weekend, you will want to keep a close eye on conditions.
The Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener takes place today through May 13, at Park Rapids. As the governor prepares to make his first cast, organizers are already preparing a Plan B. According to a report from Minnesota Public Radio, Governor Dayton will likely spend some time fishing the Fish Hook River, which enters Fish Hook Lake from the south. Current conditions suggest that there will be plenty of open water in Park Rapids, but many of the larger bodies of water will not be completely free of ice when fishing begins.
Check out this map from the DNR for the latest ice reports. As you can see, it will be some time before water across the state will be completely ice-free, despite the recent string of 70-degree weather. Obviously, those lakes farthest north are more likely to have ice, as are the larger bodies of water. The DNR maintains the map from the latest reports, but note that it isn’t kept up in real time. The best advice might come from local bait shops near the body of water where you intend to fish. They are likely aware of the most recent news.
New fishing license regulations are in place this year, so you'll want to be aware of them. License fees went up in March, the first time in 12 years there has been an increase. Also new this year are new license options: a three-year option, a reduced-price option for anglers ages 16 and 17, and a 72-hour license, which for $12 may appeal to once-a-year weekend anglers, says the DNR.
So, will we beat the record this year for ice out? Hard to say, but a few records have stood for some time. At Lake Mille Lacs, for instance, the latest ice out on record is May 7, which occurred back in 1965. From the looks of it, we may still have ice on the fishing opener. Good luck anglers.