Ice fishing businesses waiting for winter to arrive

Ice fishing businesses waiting for winter to arrive

Ice fishing businesses waiting for winter to arrive

Winter’s warmer weather is not a welcomed sight for some Minnesota ice fishing businesses, with a variety of conditions on the state’s lakes.

“The way December is going so far, it’s more like October than December,” said Pete Boulay, a climatologist with Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “We’re not making any ice fast anywhere in the state right now.”

The DNR reports that “ice in” conditions are when about 90% of a lake is covered in ice.

Up on Mille Lacs Lake, there’s still open water in spots.

“If we can get some cold weather, say some prayers, we’ll be out in no time,” said Amanda Brandt.

Her family has operated an ice fishing business, including an ice road on the south side of Mille Lacs, for 62 years. However, December hasn’t brought the weather needed to open their ice road.

“Last year was the worst since 1974, according to my mom, since having so much snow and not having the good thickness of ice, we struggled all winter long,” Brandt said. “We’re hoping it’s a change this year.”

At Mille Lacs Lake, according to DNR records (1979-2022), the earliest “ice in” was Nov. 20, 2014, with the latest date of Dec. 22, 2001.

But it’s a different story over at Castles Resort in Isle, which sits in a bay.

Anglers on Friday were paying to use the resort’s access point and head out on the ice for a day of ice fishing.

“We drill a lot of holes, check, and check, and check . . . before people go out, safety first,” said Geoff Heppding, the owner of Castles Resort.

Right now, Heppding said there is about 7 inches of ice offshore.

The resort is allowing people to walk out with their fishing gear or drive out on ATVs, but no vehicles are allowed yet due to the conditions.

“Mother Nature, that’s the nature of the business,” Heppding said. “Every resort and every business is ready for the people, and the ice fishing . . . fingers crossed.

RELATED: Authorities issue warning after 2 men, dog fall through ice in Nowthen

CLICK HERE for ice safety tips from the DNR.