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Conditions begin to change

Lake ice quickly melting away

March 27, 2010
by Steve Weisman - Outdoor Editor

Isn't it simply amazing how fast snow can go when you get temperatures in the 40s! As I write this column early in the week, there is still some ice fishing going on. Whether it will make it to the weekend depends a lot on how cool it gets at night.

Many of you that fished Big Spirit the weekend of March 13-14 probably experienced water on the ice. My son and I fished the east side of the lake out in front of Reeds Run.

Wow! There were spots where we walked through 6 inches of water on top of the ice from the snowmelt. The first day my feet got wet. The second day I wore my waders, and avoided the wet feet! Actually, it was pretty comfortable.

Then as the week progressed, the water left and the top of the ice became simply slushy. However, the sub-30 degree nights came on Friday and Saturday, and everything firmed up pretty well.

By this past weekend, the ice thickness on the lakes was beginning to vary from bay to bay and end to end. Still there was plenty of ice fishing going on.

We are beginning to see the ice pull away from shore in spots, so the end is definitely in sight. Plus, things are beginning to honeycomb. Some sunny days with strong winds, and the ice will be history!

If the quality of fishing at the end of the ice season is any indication, open water fishing should be awesome this year. We had great perch fishing on both West Okoboji and Big Spirit, along with some good bluegill fishing in the bays on West Lake and the Grade and Anglers on Big Spirit.

Upper Gar was good early for perch and bleugill, while Minnewashta provided a really good mixed bag of bluegill, perch, white bass, yellow bass and crappies in the final three weeks. Plus, we know that East Lake will be exploding with yellow bass this year. They really grew last year, so expect a lot of proud angler yellow bass this year.

As for walleyes, more and more are being recruited into the slot limit on Big Spirit. Plus, there is a good population of sub 15-inch fish around.

Come on spring! Isn't it something how our view of what is warm varies with the season? In the fall, an upper 30-degree day is viewed as a harbinger of ice up and the coming of winter. In February or March, an upper 30-degree day is a harbinger of spring, and we think it's really starting to warm up. During last Sunday's 45-degree afternoon, my wife and I sat on the deck and watched the sun slowly move its way to the west.

The robins certainly have an opinion about this weather: it's time to head north. People across northwest Iowa have been seeing these early migrators for the past two to three weeks.

Plus, the Canada geese are returning and high flying flocks of snows and blues are pushing north, too.

Easter is early this year, but soon we will be looking forward to stopping in at the Hatchery to see how the spawning season is going.



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