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Early winter heats up ice fishing season

Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald on

Published in Outdoors

Winter's early arrival makes many people cringe, but for ice fishing enthusiasts and resorts or outfitters that cater to ice fishing, this year's freeze-up is a breath of fresh air.

An arctic blast of fresh air.

From Devils Lake to Lake of the Woods and most points in between, ice fishing is off to an early start this year.

"This is the earliest I can remember," Joe Henry, executive director of Lake of the Woods Tourism, said.

With a few exceptions in areas such as Long Point, where a patch of open water persists, resorts along the south shore of Lake of the Woods are pulling rental houses onto the ice, Henry said. Several resorts have started fishing or will begin the season in the next few days, Henry said.

Most years, ice fishing on Lake of the Woods hits full swing closer to Dec. 10, he said.

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"We were just so lucky with the way it froze," Henry said. "Ice is fairly smooth, and it froze very solid and clear. So far, it's looking good."

Ice fishing is big business on Lake of the Woods, where anglers each of the past two winters logged nearly 2 million hours of ice time, statistics from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources show.

The winter fishing season also is poised for an early start on Devils Lake, where anglers in some areas have been venturing out for several days.

"We've got great ice conditions; we've had a very, very good start to it," Kyle Blanchfield of Woodland Resort on Devils Lake said. "This will probably be the earliest we'll ever have our fish houses out. We're thinking we'll probably be taking our fish houses out tentatively by Dec. 10."

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