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Continued: Doug Smith: Ice remains on many lakes, but it should be gone on some by opener

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 3, 2014 - 11:36 PM

Some open water has appeared on the east side of the lake, which bodes well, he said.

But the ice-out predicting business can be perilous.

“A month ago, I declared April 29 would be ice-out,’’ Bruesewitz said with a laugh.

Cold weather and lingering ice can cause some anglers to stay home — or go elsewhere. Mille Lacs routinely tallies 100,000 hours of fishing pressure on opening weekend.

Last year, the DNR counted just 85,000 hours for the entire month of May.

Late spring effects

Even if anglers can float boats on their favorite lake, the late spring and cold water likely will affect them. For starters, some of the state’s 1,600 boat accesses might not be ready for the opener, said the DNR’s Nancy Stewart. Some docks might not be installed by May 10.

“We suggest people call ahead and get a report from the local area,’’ she said. “Boaters have to be ready for a variety of conditions.’’

DNR crews will work on repairing boat ramps first.

“Sometimes they are damaged from ice,’’ Stewart said.

Then they will install docks. And the cold water could make catching walleyes more difficult.

“There will be walleyes spawning,’’ Drewes said, which will make them less likely to bite. The best action may be in rivers and the mouths of rivers, where the water warms first. “We’re about a week behind [normal],’’ he said.

Goeman said he figures the May 17 weekend will be more like a typical opener.

Meanwhile, early-season anglers need to be conscious that cold water kills and should wear — not stow — their life jackets. This year water temperatures in the north will be in the 30s or low 40s — potentially deadly.

“Anything below 70 is considered dangerously cold,’’ said Kara Owens, DNR boat safety specialist.

“We really want people to keep in mind that water levels are high and temperatures are cold. Wear a life jacket and don’t overload your boat.’’

More than 30 percent of Minnesota boating fatalities happen in cold water with a victim not wearing a life jacket, she said.

Last year, 13 people died in boating accidents, and one fatality already has occurred this spring.

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