Northern Minnesota Early Ice Fishing: Early ice is not safe, wear life jackets!

November 30, 2017

thin ice sign

With daytime temperatures still climbing above freezing even in the northern parts of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding outdoor enthusiasts to stay clear of early ice and use extreme caution when recreating on dangerously cold water. 

Although some locations in the northern and western regions of the state were reporting ice formation at the end of November, the recent fluctuations in weather have led to degraded ice conditions and warnings from public safety officials to stay off the ice until at least 4 inches of new, clear ice is present.

“No fish is worth the risk of going through thin ice,” said DNR conservation officer Lt. Adam Block. “At this point, it is going to take several consecutive days of below-freezing temperatures before enough solid ice has formed to support foot traffic, and even longer before ATVs  and snowmobiles should be on the ice.”

A recent tragedy occurred in northern Minnesota when two anglers lost their lives after breaking through thin ice on their ATV. Several emergency ice rescues have also taken place over the last few weeks. Last winter, two people died after breaking through the ice.

Block stressed that once ice formation picks up again, it will be important to stay vigilant about safety on the ice, since conditions can be unpredictable and vary greatly even on the same body of water.

“In addition to checking conditions locally and being prepared with an ice safety kit, anyone recreating on hard water should be wearing a life jacket,” Block said. “A life jacket is the one piece of equipment that exponentially increases your odds of not drowning from cold water shock, hypothermia or exhaustion should you fall through the ice.”

General ice safety guidelines:

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:

  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure
  • Check ice thickness at regular intervals – conditions can change  quickly.
  • Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.
  • Don’t go out alone; let someone know the plan and expected return time.
  • Always wear a life jacket on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:

  • 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
  • 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
  • 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
  • 12-15 inches for a medium truck.
  • Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.

Open water danger
The lack of ice cover means many bodies of water in the state still have open water accessible to boaters. However, late season anglers, boaters and paddlers are cautioned that a life jacket is an absolute must on cold water.

“A fall into extremely cold water can incapacitate you within seconds,” said Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator. “Air temperatures have been relatively mild, but don’t let that deceive you. Water temperatures are dangerously cold across the entire state, which means it’s more important than ever to wear that life jacket.”

State statistics show that one-third of boating fatalities typically occur during the “cold water season,” and that in the vast majority of cases the cause of death is drowning due to not wearing a life jacket.

So far in 2017, three boaters have died on cold water, and 12 total boating fatalities have been reported.

“The last three years boaters have enjoyed extended seasons with mild fall temperatures and early ice out in the spring,” Dugan said. “With increased days on the water came higher fatality numbers and a dangerous trend, which should not be ignored. Ten of the 12 deaths involved male boaters who sadly drowned while not wearing a life jacket. This is a continuing and troubling trend that will only plateau or reverse if boaters in that high-risk demographic choose to put safety first by putting on their life jacket.”

For more information, visit mndnr.gov/icesafety and mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.

Cold?…Here’s 5 Hot Drinks for Winter Weather!

Hot Cocoa - Photo by Angelica King
Photo by Angelica King

After hitting the slopes, riding the trails or attending an outdoor festival in Minnesota this winter, sipping something warm will taste twice as delicious. Minnesotans are no strangers to creative hot beverages, and there are generally some tempting options to wrap your hands around no matter what part of the state you’re in. Here are five hot drinks to keep you warm this winter:

BOMBAY COCOA FROM GOLDEN FIG FINE FOODS, ST. PAUL

There’s nothing quite like a mug of hot cocoa when the mercury dips below freezing. And while the old-fashioned standard is a comforting favorite, there are shops around Minnesota playing with the beverage, updating it and tricking it out with some new features. Take, for example, St. Paul’s Golden Fig local foods store, where one of the house blends includes cinnamon, ginger, cardamom,and a host of other spices; it’s known as “Bombay Cocoa,” and it evokes chai tea with a chocolatey kick. A percentage of every bag sold goes to organizations that support women coffee growers in their country of origin, and the company sources its beans from female growers whenever possible.

CITY GIRL COFFEE FROM ALAKEF, DULUTH

Coffee is not merely coffee. Good coffees are often the product of great stories, like the one behind City Girl Coffee from Alakef. After taking over her family’s 25-year-old Duluth-based roasting company, Alakef owner Alyza Bohbot created City Girl as a sustainable coffee company dedicated to empowering women in the coffee industry. A percentage of every bag sold goes to organizations that support women coffee growers in their country of origin, and the company sources its beans from female growers whenever possible.

TOM AND JERRY, STATEWIDE

If you grew up drinking the hot cocktail known as a Tom and Jerry, you have some sense of why it’s a such a good friend to those of us living in northern states. And if you didn’t, it’s time to get acquainted with this slice of Upper Midwestern beverage culture. According to the Dictionary of International Food and Cooking Terms (Myra Waldo, 1967), a Tom and Jerry is “a hot frothy alcoholic drink made with beaten egg yolks, stiffly beaten egg whites, rum, sugar, boiling water, bourbon and spices, served in mugs with a sprinkling of nutmeg.” As per an authoritative story about the cocktail, “most modern aficionados replace the water with milk and the bourbon with brandy.”

You can buy Tom and Jerry mix at stores, but if you can’t find it, there’s a great recipe for the cocktail online.

CARDAMOM LATTE FROM ANELACE COFFEE, MINNEAPOLIS

Anelace Latte_Becca Dilley
Photo by Becca Dilley

There’s nothing like a finely crafted coffee drink, particularly when the weather goes polar on you. Anelace Coffee, on Central Avenue in Minneapolis, makes some of the most beautifully balanced and smooth coffee drinks in the state. The use of a bit of cardamom syrup gives this latte a Nordic-inspired wintry flavor that is incomparable when the snow starts to fly.

HOT CIDER, STATEWIDE

Minnesota is a great state for apples: The climate and soil are friendly to the fruit, and the University of Minnesota has done a great deal to ensure new and delicious varietals keep popping up in markets around the country. Most cafes will offer hot cider of some sort, particularly in the autumn through early winter months. And if you’re interested in something a bit stronger that still packs an apple punch, you can find ambitious artisan hard ciders from makers all over the state, including Milk and Honey Ciders (Cold Spring), Keepsake Cidery (Dundas) and Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery (Spring Valley).

Find Minnesota coffee shops and other places to sip in our Drink & Eat directory.

7-Northern Minnesota Snow-Filled Fun Activities!

There’s no escape from winter, but a winter escape is fun and easy. From skiing to snowmobiling and urban adventures, options for snowy recreation are practically endless in Minnesota. So, take advantage of nature’s gift to the north. The snow will be gone before you know it.  For more information contact us at  http://whitebirchresort.net

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

Cross Country Ski Trail 440x440Minnesota is known for its great cross-country skiing, with more than 2,000 miles of dedicated trails to explore. In addition to day trips, cross-country ski resorts offer great meals, comfortable lodging, saunas and spas to round out the experience. Trails in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, near Ely and along the Gunflint Trail, are among the state’s top destinations for serious skiers.

Snow is most reliable in the northern half of the state, but good cross-country skiing can be found everywhere. In fact, snow-making machines are employed at several Minneapolis-St. Paul area trails to ensure quality conditions. More than two dozen Minnesota state parks provide groomed trails, and some rent skis.

DOWNHILL SKIING

Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn learned to ski in Minnesota, but even novices can take advantage of the state’s 16 downhill ski areas. In addition to big hills, many areas also feature terrain parks for ski and snowboard tricks, as well as cross-country ski trails.

Northeast Minnesota is home to the Midwest’s largest, longest and highest hills. Long runs and scenic vistas are memory makers. Ski areas in central and southern Minnesota also offer picturesque, high-quality experiences. Many are gracefully carved into towering river bluffs and broad forested valleys.

Minneapolis-St. Paul area visitors have several downhill ski areas within a 90-minute drive. Visitors to other parts of the state have plenty of choices, too. Equipment rentals and lessons are available at most ski destinations.

SNOWMOBILING

Snowmobilers 399 x 600Minnesota has nearly as many miles of snowmobile trails(roughly 22,000) as it does highways. These trails, many of which are maintained by local snowmobile clubs, extend to all corners of the state. Many trails run through picturesque federal, state and county forests, and can take riders to restaurants, lodging, and other popular amenities. Weekly trail condition updates are available by email.

ICE FISHING

Minnesota’s panfish season never closes, and walleye, northern pike and other seasons extend deep into winter. As a result, fishing continues to be one of Minnesota’s most popular outdoor activities long after waves have turned to ice.

Ice fishing’s ongoing allure, in part, stems from ice house improvements. Safe and reliable heaters, grills and comfortable beds are all part of the modern ice fishing experience. Warm, lifelong memories are often forged from nature’s northern lights, stunning sunsets and the hushed silence of winter.

Popular lakes for ice fishing include Leech, Gull, Mille Lacs, Lake of the Woods and more. Ice fishing festivals on these and other lakes are tons of fun, even if you’re not fishing.

FAT BIKING

Cuyuna-Fat-Biking-1The skinny on fat tire mountain biking is that Minnesota offers outstanding options. One of the most notable is the rugged and hilly Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, where winter trails slice and curve through forests and lake country. In many ways, Cuyuna isn’t a trail; it’s an experience.

Several state parks now offer winter mountain biking opportunities thanks to the sport’s increasing popularity. So do park systems in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Duluth and Winona areas, with more opening up every year.

DOG SLEDDING

Dog sledding is one of the most fun and unusual ways to experience winter. People of all ages and physical abilities can do it, and trips can be tailored to your comfort level. Short trips, day trips, overnight trips, and trips that include ice fishing are among the many iterations available.

Lodging options also vary. You can spend the night in a cozy cabin or in a yurt—an insulated tent-like shelter.

The primary destination for this sport is the Boundary Waters, but outfitters can also be found in Duluth, along the North Shore, and even in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

SNOWSHOEING

Instructor teaching people how to walk in snowshoesFor those who want to enjoy the snow with something other than skis on their feet, snowshoeing is a great, low-impact activity. Snowshoe rentals and trails are common in state and local park systems, including those in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Many nature centers provide snowshoe rentals and trails, too.

Minnesota fishing report

Minnesota fishing report from White Birch Resort. Check out the great deals from White Birch Resort for your next ice fishing adventure. Offering luxury cabin rentals for the winter with private hot tubs built into the decks.

All of the homes are located on Blackduck Lake which is a well known walleye and perch fishing lake.

For more information go to www.whitebirchresort.net

Preparing ice trails on Lake of the Woods; photo courtesy of www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com

Few anglers are venturing out now that ice is forming on bodies of water throughout the state — very little information on fishing activity is available at this time.

This is a good time for anglers to prepare their equipment and review the DNR’s Ice Safety Guidelines web page.

For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR’s Fish Minnesotaweb page.

Consider attending the Hard Water Fishing Expo at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Nov. 17-19. Discover the latest ice fishing gear, and attend seminars and Q & A sessions with Ice Team professional.

Northeast Minnesota

Duluth – Lake Superior, St. Louis River and inland waters

Fishing has been very slow this last week which is not unusual for this time of year. Water surface temperatures are dropping into the 30s with ice covering most bodies of water. Please note that none of the ice in the Twin Ports area is thick enough for ice fishing. Local anglers expect some fishable ice by the end of the month. Please remember no ice is ever 100 percent safe. It is important to check with area bait shops, resorts or guides before venturing out. This is the time of year to properly clean, organize and prepare your boat for winter storage. It is also a great time to clean, organize and prepare for the upcoming ice fishing season. 800-438-5884www.visitduluth.com

Northwest Minnesota

Baudette – Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River

Ice stretches as far as the eye can see from the south shore of Lake of the Woods. All of the back bays are now frozen over. The Rainy River is covered in a skim of ice aside from a few areas with open water. The water temperature is roughly 33 degrees so the cold nights will help build ice. The spearing season began Nov. 15, and spearers are eager to head out onto Bostic Bay where measurements have shown 6 inches of ice in some areas. Walleye and sauger are staged along the south shore. They can be found at Pine Island, Zippel Bay, Long Point and Rocky Point. At the Northwest Angle, many areas have frozen over and some area residents who are very familiar with the lake are using snowmobiles to access the islands. Expectations are high since large schools of walleye were found in these areas just before ice-up. Before venturing out onto the ice, please check with a local resort or bait shop for the most up-to-date information on ice conditions. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com

Detroit Lakes

While ice has formed on most waters throughout the Detroit Lakes area, it is unsafe for travel. Most area lakes have roughly 3 inches of unstable ice at the shorelines, and a few remain entirely open. The recent pattern of cold days followed by a couple days in the high 30s will continue for a while so ice will probably not be accessible until after Thanksgiving. Please stay off the ice until there is a cold snap that lasts at least 5 to 7 days in a row. 800-542-3992www.visitdetroitlakes.com

Central Region

Isle/Onamia – Lake Mille Lacs

The DNR has announced that walleye fishing on Lake Mille Lacs will open on Friday, Dec. 1 with no bait restrictions. Anglers may keep 1 walleye measuring 20 to 22 inches, or one longer than 28 inches. For more information on Lake Mille Lacs regulations, check out the DNR news release from Nov. 3. 888-350-2692www.millelacs.com

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Stillwater – St. Croix River

As of Nov. 9, limits of walleye and sauger were being pulled from the St. Croix River.  Anglers were also taking some huge white bass – these fish are always fun to catch! Just some of the many techniques turning fish include jigging raps, spoons, rapalas, jigs with plastics, and rigged minnows, especially in 18-34 feet of water. www.discoverstillwater.com

Southern Minnesota

Lanesboro – Southeast Bluff Country trout streams

As of Thursday, Nov. 16, fisheries staff reported that most area streams and rivers were clear with a normal water flow. Please note that Whitewater State Park is closed for their firearms deer hunt this weekend, November 18 and 19. No one will be allowed in the park unless they are deer hunting and have the appropriate license. There were some amazing midge hatches on Sunday, Nov. 12, with fish being caught on midge adults, pupae and larvae patterns. Southeast stream trout maps are available under “Area Highlights” on the Lanesboro area fisheries web page800-944-2670www.lanesboro.com

 

Anglers may obtain fishing licenses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by dialing 1-888-665-4236, or accessing DNR License Sales.

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Minnesota winter getaways.

Check out all the winter activities in Minnesota for the weekend getaway.
The great Northwoods of the state has some great ideas when it comes to ideas for that experience of a lifetime.

Home to endless recreation, sporting events and winter festivals, winter fun is happening every week in the Northwoods of Blackduck and the Bemidji area! As a area that takes pride in its unique seasonal activities, Blackduck and the Bemidji area is also blessed with the terrain and facilities to host to a range of recreational events. This includes camps and tournaments, as well as challenging races on bike, snowmobile, skis, dog sled, boat and foot. Our resume includes the Bemidji Curling Club, home to a number of Olympic champions. Event planners have chosen Bemidji to host the internationally famous Finlandia cross-country ski event since 1982. And Bemidji’s Sanford Center Arena is the unmatched choice for most any activity or event your group enjoys–including hockey– as the Bemidji Arena is home to Division hockey events and host of the annual Paul Bunyan International Hockey Tournament. Listed are just a few of the recreational facilities available for rent in Bemidji– for sport or just group enjoyment. For more ideas and facility options, contact us.

Just about Anything on Ice:

Don’t be surprised to see an ice boat zip on by at 40 mph during a winter visit to Blackduck and Bemidji. And while not a scheduled event (yet!) a game of snow golf can spring up in a moment…or perhaps a game of turkey bowling, mutt sled racing, and, of course, the annual Polar Plunge swim extravaganza. Just about anything you can think of doing on ice or in the snow to test one’s winter mettle is considered game (and fun!) in Bemidji! To keep up with all the winter activities and unique events, be sure to check the Events calendar.

White Birch Resort is just the place for your Winter Vacation! We offer luxury homes with designated units providing private 12 person hot tubs on the homes private screened porch/deck. White Birch Resort can also cater to smaller 1-3 person studio cabin rentals, which are great for couples. There is a snowmobile trail right out the front door of your cabin. Blackduck Lake is great for perch, northern and walleye ice fishing. We are only 25 minutes from Upper Red Lake and Bemidji Lake, as well. Buena Vista Ski Area is 20 minutes from the resort and offers down hill, cross country, snow boarding, tubing, sleigh rides and warm ski lodge .

Ice Fishing:
Fish foodies swear there is nothing more delicious than a freshly pulled catch from the frozen northern waters. And if you are a catch and release enthusiast, winter fishing is a whole different brand of exciting fun– whether over a hole seated on a bucket, or toasting your toes in a decked-out fishhouse. Avid Blackduck, Red Lake and Bemidji fisherman find winter walleye success on most larger lakes in the area, and panfish active this time of year on many smaller lakes. Area guides and rentals available, with fun events such Winterfest’s Hardwater Classic tournament held in February.
In winter, Blackduck Lake and Lake Bemidji turn into a frozen snowy village! Whether you use the drill-and-hope approach (like Grumpy Old Men) or latest in high-tech electronic gear, the great outdoors, the snow, the crisp, fresh air—ice fishing surrounding lakes may turn into one of the best fishing days you’ll ever have! Equipment and fish house rentals available around the Blackduck, Red Lake and Bemidji area. Blackduck Lake is great for perch, northern and walleye ice fishing. We are only 25 minutes from Upper Red Lake and Bemidji Lake, as well.
Snowmobiling
It is easy to see how Bemidji earned the title “Snowmobile Capital of the North!” With unmatched scenic beauty, excellent grooming, and an abundant number of trails–so many, the saying here is “Bemidji’s got more trails than you’ve got time!” Great pit stops along the routes, too, with many Bemidji lodgings offering direct access to the trails. Whtie Birch Resort even has a snowmobile trail right out the resort’s front door.
The Blackduck Bemidji area has the best trail system.
No other area is as central to the state’s 14,000 miles of trails. As the crossroads city for two major Minnesota Interconnecting Trail System routes, MITS-71 and MITS-2, MITS trails link up with hundreds of spur trails, guaranteeing riders connections to virtually any place in the state.

Contact White Birch Resort for Your Next Minnesota Vacation Experience
218-835-4552

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WHITE BIRCH RESORT

Bemidji Region - Minnesota
18882 North Blackduck Lake RD NE Hines, MN 56630 Office 218-835-4552 Cell 218-553-0210
Email - vacation@whitebirchresort.net