Here's a look at what to expect for the 2019 Minnesota ice fishing season

AP photo

Conservation officers are still urging extreme caution on many lakes.

Posted: Nov 21, 2018 11:30 AM
Updated: Nov 21, 2018 11:33 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Few activities are as quintessentially Minnesotan as ice fishing, and some anglers are already venturing onto the ice. If that sounds dangerous, it should, especially with a Thanksgiving warmup in the forecast.

Authorities already have had to rescue some anglers. But when cold weather returns, Minnesota's 10,000 lakes will be making ice. So here's a look at what to expect for the 2019 ice fishing season:

IS IT SAFE YET?

No. it's true that the recent cold snap put a fresh sheet of ice on many lakes statewide. And reports from conversation officers show that several anglers and spearers haven't been willing to wait. They've even met with some fishing success.

But the Department of Natural Resources likes to say that ice is never 100 percent safe, and no fish is worth a life. Conservation officers are still urging "extreme caution" on many lakes.

"Ice, especially early ice with snow cover, is extremely deceptive because you can't see dangerous cracks or the thickness of the ice under the snow," Conservation Officer Adam Block said in a statement, reminding parents that the holiday weekend is a good time to teach kids about the dangers of ice.

Last Saturday, conservation officers responded to a call of anglers stranded on the ice on Upper Red Lake. Emergency responders brought them safely back to shore, but the officers had to use an airboat to recover their fish house, augers and other gear.

WHEN WILL IT BE SAFE?

Sportsman's Lodge on Lake of the Woods at the northernmost tip of Minnesota says on its website that it's hoping for an early December start date, once there's 8-12 inches of good ice.

Some resorts on Upper Red Lake reported 5 inches early this week, which under good conditions can support activities on foot.

On Mille Lacs Lake, Eddy Lyback of Lyback's Ice Fishing says on his website that the ice extended out about 2 miles early this week, but he hasn't ventured out on it and won't for a while, though he says a few anglers have walked out on the bays to try their luck.

THE RULES

The DNR is maintaining its existing regulations for the winter season on Upper Red Lake, a four-walleye bag limit with only one allowed longer than 17 inches. That's been in place since the May 2017 fishing opener. The DNR says sport anglers have harvested around 235,000 pounds of walleyes from the lake since last December. That's a record since walleye fishing resumed on the lake in 2006.

While Upper Red Lake has been a success, Mille Lacs is still recovering from a dramatic decline in its walleye population. For the third straight winter, anglers will be allowed to keep only one walleye, and it must be between 21 and 23 inches, or over 28 inches. DNR officials expect the walleye bite on Mille Lacs to be quite good this winter because the relatively low numbers of forage fish such as perch and tullibee should make an anglers' bait hard to resist.

THE TOURNAMENTS

The Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza bills itself as the world's largest ice-fishing contest. It's scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26, on Hole-in-the-Day Bay on Gull Lake. The long list of prizes includes a new truck, ATVs, augers and other equipment, to name just a few. It typically draws 10,000 people. The kickoff party is the night before at Grand View Lodge.

In celebration of Minnesota's ugliest fish, the International Eelpout Festival on Leech Lake's Walker Bay is set for Feb. 21-24. On those three days the population of Walker, normally around 1,000, increases tenfold. But it's not all about the pursuit of the slimy bottom-feeder, which is a freshwater member of the cod family and allegedly tastes pretty good if properly prepared. Other events include eelpout curling, polar plunges into the lake, an ice bar and live music.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 489116

Reported Deaths: 6614
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1014901592
Ramsey43327810
Dakota36619394
Anoka33496391
Washington22208262
Stearns18822202
St. Louis14887265
Scott13403107
Wright12609116
Olmsted1185990
Sherburne878574
Carver787641
Clay695588
Rice677691
Blue Earth601035
Kandiyohi581274
Crow Wing523582
Chisago501745
Otter Tail486071
Benton450990
Winona419749
Mower410831
Douglas394568
Goodhue389069
Nobles387247
Polk345063
McLeod341250
Beltrami338951
Morrison327747
Becker314842
Itasca314646
Lyon313845
Isanti309456
Steele303611
Carlton300449
Freeborn286424
Pine283216
Nicollet262441
Todd249730
Brown248237
Le Sueur238120
Mille Lacs229447
Cass221224
Waseca210417
Meeker208134
Martin190829
Wabasha18733
Roseau181017
Hubbard161041
Houston158214
Dodge15404
Renville152640
Redwood147127
Fillmore13969
Pennington138716
Chippewa136935
Cottonwood136020
Wadena131420
Faribault124917
Aitkin119133
Sibley118310
Watonwan11828
Rock116314
Kanabec108820
Pipestone101824
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9548
Jackson94610
Swift87818
Pope8165
Marshall78615
Stevens7478
Lake74218
Clearwater72014
Lac qui Parle68716
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5173
Lincoln5122
Grant4928
Norman4798
Unassigned44768
Mahnomen4437
Kittson41021
Red Lake3615
Traverse3115
Lake of the Woods2221
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337676

Reported Deaths: 5494
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52087560
Linn19512317
Scott17167212
Black Hawk14970293
Woodbury13847214
Johnson1317075
Dubuque12450196
Dallas1022593
Pottawattamie9897146
Story965045
Warren514976
Clinton502684
Cerro Gordo501383
Webster495788
Sioux480369
Marshall465273
Des Moines428461
Muscatine426393
Buena Vista413237
Wapello4059110
Jasper387767
Plymouth368978
Lee354653
Marion341571
Jones285155
Henry279837
Bremer270555
Carroll266948
Crawford253635
Boone244330
Benton241154
Washington239547
Mahaska215746
Jackson210339
Dickinson204240
Tama203065
Kossuth198655
Delaware186240
Clay184425
Winneshiek183628
Fayette179335
Page178119
Buchanan177829
Wright174531
Hamilton173942
Cedar172723
Hardin170239
Harrison167670
Clayton160254
Butler159331
Mills148520
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146236
Lyon145741
Allamakee144848
Madison143218
Iowa140723
Hancock138030
Grundy132430
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129611
Cass129651
Jefferson128634
Appanoose123247
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
Chickasaw119915
Union119331
Sac118818
Shelby117634
Emmet115340
Humboldt113725
Franklin109719
Guthrie109628
Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9720
Montgomery96936
Clarke95120
Keokuk92429
Monroe90028
Ida81832
Adair81630
Pocahontas80919
Davis76623
Monona76527
Greene73110
Lucas72221
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Taylor64112
Decatur5719
Fremont5619
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50620
Audubon4759
Wayne47221
Adams3194
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