Minnesota’s frozen lakes are showing hopeful signs of breaking up, but the long winter continues to chill sales of fishing licenses.

As of last Friday, two weeks before the traditional fishing opener, 71,185 state anglers had purchased an individual license from the DNR. A year ago at the same time, individual resident license sales totaled 98,844.

With temperatures reaching the 80s this week as far north as Bemidji, there have been reports of ice starting to shift on Mille Lacs and 50-50 predictions that Upper Red Lake might be fishable on Opening Day.

Crappie contest postponed

Hundreds if not thousands of anglers who participate in the annual Minnesota Bound Crappie Contest on Lake Minnetonka will have to wait two weeks. Ice conditions were iffy enough for organizers to move the event from May 5 to May 19.

Ron Schara will kick off the 50th year of the contest from Lord Fletcher’s. The person catching a valid crappie that is closest or equal to the contest’s randomly selected weight will win a boat, motor and trailer. Last year, more than 2,000 anglers participated.

CWD watch

Wisconsin recently announced that its uncontained outbreak of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild deer has crept closer to Minnesota. Wildlife officials in Madison have added Pepin, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Chippewa and Dunn counties to a growing list of CWD-affected territories. On Tuesday, a deer baiting ban and deer feeding ban were enacted for those five counties in hopes of slowing down movement of the disease.

The latest expansion of Wisconsin’s CWD zone was prompted by a landowner’s report of a sick deer. Tests showed the 2-year-old doe to be infected. The animal was in western Eau Claire County near the town of Brunswick — 40 miles from Wabasha, Minn.