With another snowstorm on our doorstep and no significant warming trend in sight, a lot of us are wondering whether the ice will go out on our favorite lakes in time for the May 11 Minnesota fishing opener — or the May 4 Wisconsin opener.
It’s looking a little dicey, isn’t it?
As of mid-week, ice-out on Minnesota lakes was about two weeks behind normal, said Department of Natural Resources climatologist Pete Boulay. Only a few lakes in southwestern Minnesota have lost their ice, he said.
In northern Minnesota, lakes remain snow-covered and have lost virtually no ice except where current enters or leaves.
I remember in 2008, the ice left northern Minnesota lakes not long before the fishing opener. I fished Lake Vermilion that year, and the ice went out just the day before the opener.
This year, anything could happen. If we get warm weather, the rate of ice-out on Minnesota lakes could resume a more normal pattern. Last year, remember, warm weather hit in March and we lost nearly all of our snow in less than a week.
Here are some average ice-out dates for Northeastern Minnesota lakes, according to the DNR’s climatology office records:
Big Sandy (McGregor), April 21
Mille Lacs, April 25
Pelican (Orr), April 26
Leech, April 28
Shagawa (Ely), April 28
Kabetogama (Ray), April 29
Burntside (Ely), April 30
Vermilion, April 30
Rainy, May 4
Gunflint, May 6
Saganaga, May 7