This winter has been one of those winters that just make a man wonder about about what the heck is going on with this ice. I snapped these photos yesterday evening while on lake Waconia. For January 15th it sure seems strange to be looking at open water. This massive stretch of open water has been steadily gaining in size and is now at approximately 30 acres. The really odd part about it is that it has been in the single digits to below zero for the last 5 days, yet it still is growing rapidly in size. You can see in the pics that there are houses and vehicles just beyond the open water...that's right VEHICLES nearly 200 yards from the waves. Normally I would be the risky person out there, but the current generated from the waves has caused severe ice loss in spots, and while drilling holes in the area yesterday, we found as little as 6" in spots. The thing that makes me wonder the most is that as soon as one truck touched the ice 3 days ago, everybody and their brother thought the lake was safe to drive on. There are people driving all around this water and they don't realize how much ice they are actually on. At one point last night there was a truck and a van parked next to each other, and they weren't even 20 yards from the area that we found the 6" inches of ice. The current caused by this open water has been eating the ice away right underneath people and they don't even know it. In the past few days the open water has grown a couple of hundred yards, and people that once had their house on their favorite honey hole have moved it away only to see waves where they had been fishing. Craziness for this late in the year with the temps being as cold as they are.
I strongly encourage precaution on all lakes south of Brainerd at this point. My buddy that flies up north regularly in his small plane said he could see open water on the majority of the lakes south of Brainerd. This is scary when you think about driving out on the ice on a lake you haven't been on this year. If it freezes over and gets a layer of snow on top of it, then everything looks the same and the stranger to the lake will have no idea. I usually cannot be scared by the ice this late in the season, but my ventures that I will soon be taking in the next few weeks to my smaller lakes all over the state have really got me wondering just how risky I am going to be. Not that I won't be out there, but I will just be using my 4 years of college to make a better decision.
Now back to the fishing report. I have been out a couple of times on the lakes close to home doing some lazy man fishing and catching whatever wants to swim under the cozy shack. My outings have taken place on Waconia, Parley and Minnetonka. The object of my affection lately has been what is suppose to be the "easy to catch" panfish. Each time out has had different results for us and it seems very difficult to find any consistency in the action. We have tried several "go-to" spots on Waconia for crappies and the fish have been winning some of the battles. We have managed some tasty meals a couple of times out, as well as a few bonus fish that we weren't targeting. One of the best parts about fishing for panfish in the weeds is that you always seem to have a few unexpected fish grab the wigglers (worms) and jigs. Not that I feel like keeping the slimy northerns or bass, but they sure can be a great battle at times. Once this goofy winter weather settles down some, I think the action will stabilize a little more.
You'll never catch every fish in the lake, but it sure is fun trying. Fish On!