Lake ice complicates Minn. Governor's Fishing Opener

Lake Bemidji
A work crew begins spring cleaning in a park along the shore of Lake Bemidji on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. Ice still covers most of the lake, though warm weather the past few days has deteriorated ice along the shore.
MPR Photo/Tom Robertson

This is turning out to be a record year for late ice out dates on many northern Minnesota Lakes.

Lake ice will play a role in the Governor's Fishing Opener for the first time in recent memory.

When Gov. Mark Dayton arrives in Park Rapids for the 66th annual event on Saturday, there will very likely still be ice on most lakes in the area.

Dennis Mackedanz is in charge of this year's event and said they needed a plan 'b' to find open water. The governor will spend much of his time on the Fish Hook River because most of Fish Hook Lake will probably still be covered in ice.

DNR Map: See when lakes across Minnesota are ice free

"I can tell you that three weeks ago it was 30 inches, because we went out and did a few test holes, but we have lost a lot of ice in the last 24 to 48 hours, because yesterday it was over 70 degrees," Mackedanz said. "The ice is breaking up on a lot of our smaller lakes."

This will be the latest ice out on Fish Hook since DNR record keeping began in 1983. Some locals figure there hasn't been ice on the lake during an opener in perhaps 60 years.

Fishing guide Jason Durham will accompany the governor on Saturday morning. Durham figures he'll be able to get the governor out onto at least some open water on the lake. But he said the Fish Hook River will provide decent fishing.

"The river system actually is a very good area to target walleye and other species of fish," Durham said. "Right now, with our late spring, it's got some current flowing through it, which is where the walleyes go to spawn where ever you're at in the state of Minnesota."

Local organizers say the late ice out won't affect other plans for the event, which will attract hundreds of visitors this weekend.

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