Published December 02, 2012, 05:15 AM

TALKIN WITH DOKKEN: When can fishing start on the ice

Dokken answers the question: With ice fishing starting on small ponds, what is the earliest and latest that people have gotten on the ice at Lake of the Woods and Devils Lake?

By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

Q. With ice fishing starting on small ponds, what is the earliest and latest that people have gotten on the ice at Lake of the Woods and Devils Lake?

A. That’s a tough question, and the answer depends on whether you’re referring to die-hards who venture out earlier than they probably should or guides and resorts that wait until conditions are safer.

So, I’ll stick with the latter.

On Lake of the Woods, Gary Moeller of Ballard’s Resort near Baudette, Minn., said “go time” for his crew happens when there’s 8 to 10 inches of good ice — enough to support the weight of rental houses and the light vehicles and trailers used to shuttle people onto the ice. A couple of years ago, Moeller said, the resort had people fishing its rental houses Dec. 2. The latest start date has been Dec. 26, Moeller said, and that’s happened twice in the past 25 years. The average, he said, is about Dec. 12.

Longtime Devils Lake fishing guide and outdoors TV host Jason Mitchell said he remembers anglers walking out on 3 inches of ice in mid- to late November back in the days when the lake was smaller. As a guide, Mitchell said if there was enough ice for driving between Dec. 5 and Dec. 12, that was a good year. Some years, Mitchell said, there hasn’t been enough ice for driving until after New Year’s.

Anglers are beginning to venture onto the ice in both places, but it’s not necessarily advised, and extreme caution is recommended.

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