The Ice is Melting–It’s Time To Prep For A New Season

Hello anglers everywhere. We have a great forecast this week, unfortunately it’s the perfect forecast for ice melting rather than for fishing. The shorelines of the lakes throughout Ottertail Lakes Country look ominous. The ice seems to be sinking rather than washing ashore. All being said, ice fishing is all but over in Ottertail County. It’s time to gear up for opening water fishing. Bank fishing is just around the corner, which I think is a great approach for early-ice-out panfish. First-ice-out panfish really crowd shorelines in ultra shallow water for warmth and I think it’s easier to approach them from the shoreline as you can cast beyond them and retrieve your bait back to them. When you cast at shallow fish from the boat, you’re more likely to spook them with splashing bobbers, etc. Spool up your “light action” poles with some fresh Berkley Trilene XL. I like 6 lb test in the spring from shore. It casts well (even into the wind) and if you get caught on some grass or small twigs from shoreline shrubs or small trees, you can pull your tackle out—hopefully. If you use 2 or 4 lb test lines, which work well for fussy panfish, you’ll never get your tackle back if you get stuck.  Also, think about using Berkley Gulp and Berkley Power Bait for bait options, as they can endure strong whip-casts when you’re trying to get your baits further away from shore.  Live bait like crappie minnows and worms are good baits but often fly off the hook when casting and rip off when pulling them through shoreline grass.
It’s our fishing down time everyone! Keep busy with getting your boats and trolling motors ready, make sure you have current fishing licenses and current registrations for the boat—it’s maintenance time! Also, it’s a perfect time to read through the 2017 fishing regulations. Check for new rules and regulations and for special regulations specific to your favorite lakes. Also, take some time and learn more about new aquatic invasive species infestations in Ottertail Lakes Country. Unfortunately, the county saw more infestations in 2016 so be sure you know where those are to help prevent their spread into non-infested waters. It only takes a few minutes! Thank you and have a great week. By Ross Hagemeister,

Wrapping Up The Ice Season Around Ottertail Lakes Country

Happy spring ice fishermen! Ice fishing in Ottertail Lakes Country has come full-circle for the 2016-2017 season. I found myself out for one last try yesterday—carefully. I entered the ice just as I enter it in December every year—very carefully. I stepped out onto the lake and hopped up and down, and drilled a few test holes and found my auger and it’s dull blades drilling through the ice effortlessly. The ice was rotten from top to bottom and there wasn’t much left. The ice had degraded, even more, than the last time I was out. Once the sun starts making a direct overhead connection with it, the ice rots quickly—even if the temps aren’t real warm. That’s why the ice, inevitably, goes away in the spring even if the spring isn’t real warm. I left the ice yesterday, went home, and put my ice fishing gear away for the year. When the ice rots this time of year, it can actually degrade while you’re out fishing and fishermen can actually have a tough time getting off the ice. All in all, it was a great ice fishing season in Ottertail Lakes Country. We had good ice for most of the season and little snow fall to impede travel and to make messy lake-surface conditions. I’m already looking forward to next ice season. Moving forward: I’m guessing that the ice will start coming off of the lakes in Ottertail County in a week to 10 days. That means, fishing from boats isn’t too far away! Get the boat out, check the battery, get it tuned up and geared up because you’re going to need it pretty soon. I better get outside and make my fire—it’s a great day to boil maple sap into maple syrup! Have a great first week of spring! By Ross Hagemeister