Will Ice Out Happen On Northern Minnesota Lakes Before Fishing Opener?
We could be cutting it close this year on having complete ice out on some of northern Minnesota lakes. "Ice out" refers to the date when there is no more ice on the lake. The median ice out date for Lake Vermilion, for example, is on April 30. However, the record for the latest ice out is as late in the spring as May 23. That was back in 1950.
Lake Vermilion has some of the later ice out dates in the state. It's a large lake that has many bays, islands, and lots of shoreline. That makes it harder for spring weather to completely rid the lake of ice.
Locals on Lake Vermilion expect the ice to probably stick around for another 3 weeks. A friend of mine, Steve, who lives on Lake Vermilion says there are only about 100 yards of open water on the ice. That's cutting it close to the Minnesota fishing opener on Saturday, May 14. Back in 2013 the ice out for Lake Vermilion was observed on May 17, over a week after that year's fishing opener on May 9, 2013. The following year, 2014 also had a later than average date of May 13.
Timbuktu Marine recently shared a video on April 17, and they provide updates as we get closer as well.
The owner of Life Of Riley Resort on Lake Vermilion sent me a photo of Lake Vermilion from their place. There's a lot of melting that needs to happen. This photo is from April 18 at 1:30 PM.
The most recent satellite images show that just about every lake in the Northern half of Minnesota is still covered in ice. Upper and Lower Red Lake, Mille Lacs, and others are pretty visible. Just look for the big splotches of white.
Mille Lacs usually see ice out on April 25. This year may go longer. 2013 was a brutally cold winter and had a lot of ice. That's the year where the term "polar vortex" first emerged around here. I remember that spring we still had icebergs on Lake Superior's shore in Duluth on Memorial Day.
You'll likely be able to still fish on the opener even if the ice out doesn't occur by then. You'll just have to keep an eye out for ice in some areas. The way this spring is going, I'm probably going to be wearing my winter jacket on the boat.