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Things are starting to happen on Lake of the Woods.  This is the time of year many are watching the weather forecasts very closely hoping for cold temps.  These ice fishing fanatics may have had their gear ready for weeks waiting for the chance to get on the ice.  The time is coming and the weather report looks favorable.

The current ice report as of 12-7-16.  A couple of inches of ice on back bays and sections of the NW Angle.  Open water still exists on main lake, parts of the Angle and in parts of bays.  Ice is coming, but not quite yet.  Work through your favorite resort or outfitter.  For daily reports, stay tuned to the Lake of the Woods Tourism Facebook Page.  We will keep you as up to date as possible by communicating with area resorts and outfitters.

How do I know when it is safe?  As we always say, safety comes first.  The best way to be safe is to work through a resort or outfitter who works the ice, follow their directions and stay on their trails.  What many people don’t know is the behind the scenes work that happens to make an ice trail as safe as possible.

Resorts and guides know where the best ice will be or is by checking it.  They make sure to avoid areas with springs.  They Plow the ice so the cold can better penetrate causing thicker ice.  They avoid cracks and bridge cracks when appropriate.  Sometimes they even pump water on to the ice to build ice thickness.  There are a number of things taking place behind the scenes to make sure guests who come ice fishing are safe.

Do your part… 

-Work through a resort or outfitter

-Do not push it.  If they say trail is only good for an ATV, don’t go out with anything larger without permission.

-Dress for the weather.  Whether you are traveling out on your own or a resort is transporting you, have proper gear.

-Stay on the trails.  As mentioned, much effort is spent on the trails.  Those who get themselves in trouble or stuck are typically venturing out on their own.

-Know where you are going.  There are stories of guests accessing the ice in locations where the ice is not safe this time of year.  One area that is not safe this time of year is the Wheeler’s Point public access.  The Rainy River has current and it takes weeks of very cold weather before a snowmobile trail will be staked.

-Slow down!  The faster you go on ice, the more dangerous it is and the more damage is caused to the ice.  Driving fast pushes a wave  of water ahead of you and that can mess up ice.  Slow down, be safe and courteous.

-Keep It Clean!  Whether it is your own trash or someone else who either missed some or wasn’t being a good steward of the land, pick up the trash.  This year again, there will be six dumpsters placed at popular ice access points around the lake.  In addition, some resorts who you used to access the ice will have places to dispose of trash.  Let’s all work together.

-If venturing out on your own, travel with a partner and have the proper gear.  A well charged cell phone is a good idea.  Some even carry an extra portable battery.  A rope.  A GPS.  Flashlight.  Travel during daylight hours if possible.  Stay on the trails.  Don’t cross ice upheavals or cracks that have formed.  If you can, drive around the trouble areas.

-At any time, during any season, while in the Lake of the Woods Area, if you need emergency assistance, dial 911.  Dispatchers know who to contact, have a number of resources and know what resorts may be in your area.

Lake of the Woods is arguably the largest ice fishing destination in North America.  With a strong population of walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, pike, crappies and eelpout, anglers typically experience lots of action while on the big lake.  In addition, area resorts and outfitters have done a nice job creating nice ice roads, warm comfortable fish houses, heated ice transportation to and from fish houses, sleeper fish houses on the lake, and a fun, enjoyable environment when you come off of the lake as well.

If you are looking for some fun times this winter, check out ice fishing on Lake of the Woods.  If it wouldn’t be so cool, not so many people would be doing it!

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