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Most Minnesota lakes are open for Saturday's fishing opener

Only larger, deeper lakes in the Arrowhead still have ice.

fish lake fBOATS
Two boats on Fish Lake north of Duluth on the 2021 Minnesota fishing opener. Most lakes in northern Minnesota were ice-free at midweek, except for larger-deeper lakes in northern St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties.
John Myers / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Two weeks of warm weather and plenty of solar radiation was all it took to get rid of the ice on most northern Minnesota lakes and make them fishable for Saturday’s annual fishing opener.

Data from the Minnesota State Climatology Office and recent satellite photos show nearly all Minnesota lakes ice-free except for the larger, deeper lakes in northern St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties.

Upper Red Lake became ice-free on May 10, 10 days later than its median date but short of the all-time record of May 17.

Leech Lake lost its ice May 9, 11 days later than its median ice-out date but well short of the May 23 record.

Lake Winnibigoshish lost its ice May 5, nine days later than the median date but well short of the May 17 latest ice out record.

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Pokegema was ice free on May 8, nine days later than the median date.

Big Sandy officially lost its last ice May 6, more than two weeks later than the median date.

All lakes in the Duluth area also were ice-free this week.

The main question for northern Minnesota anglers: Will the ice be out?

Lakes that continued to carry at least some ice included those along the Minnesota-Ontario border, like Saganaga and Gunflint. Lake of the Woods was ice free in many areas, although large rafts of ice were floating around the main lake at midweek. Lake Vermilion was at least partially ice free but had some ice in open areas.

The Minnesota fishing season for walleye, northern and bass begins at 12:01 a.m. May 14.

Opening day forecast: Sunny start

The National Weather Service in Duluth is calling for mild temperatures and sunny skies to start Saturday, with highs in the lower 70s in most areas but upper 60s near Lake Superior. There’s a chance of rain after 1 p.m. Winds Saturday are expected to start light-and-variable and increase from the southwest to 5-10 mph with gusts to 20 mph in the afternoon. Sunday is forecast to be mostly sunny, with highs in the mid-60s and a west wind 10 to 15 mph and gusts as high as 20 mph.

Flooding occurring along border

Anglers are warned that lake and river levels along the Rainy River watershed, from Lake Vermilion to Lake of the Woods, are very high and approaching flood stages due to recent heavy rains and rapid snowmelt. Currents are very strong in the area and flooding in low areas already is occurring. Boat landings may be affected.

Get your license

Members Only
Jigs have caught more world-record fish than any other lure and will be the go-to choice for many anglers on Minnesota's fishing opener May 14.

Check out various license options and buy your license online at dnr.state.mn.us/fishing , or buy a license by phone at 888-665-4236 or at many sporting goods stores statewide. The basic resident adult fishing license for a year is $25; $51 for nonresidents.

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Find a fishing lake on the mobile app, online

Get lake-specific information, including regulations, fish species, stocking reports, boat landing locations and lake maps at maps1.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefinder/mobile . You can search by lake name, on a map or find lakes near where you are.

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John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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