Days before fishing opener, ice still covers northern Minn. lakes

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Unusual spring weather has left ice as thick as two feet covering some Minnesota lakes before Saturday's walleye and northern pike fishing opener.

Major lakes from Mille Lacs Lake north--including Leech, Upper Red, Cass, Lake of the Woods, Winnibigoshish and Vermilion--are expected to be iced in, the Star Tribune reports.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking anglers to use caution if attempting to ice fish, as rain and wind can quickly melt ice. Check lake ice-out dates on the DNR's website.

Fishing guide Jason Durham will be paired with Gov. Mark Dayton at Fish Hook Lake near Park Rapids for the Governor's Fishing Opener. Durham tells the Fargo Forum that there's a chance the lake could be open or partially open by Saturday.

The ice is also creating a shortage of bait. KSTP reports leeches are nearly impossible to find.

Ice-locked lakes is keeping many anglers away from popular Minnesota tourism destinations, creating concern among resort and bait shop owners who fear a major financial hit.

If your boat does make it into the water Saturday, the DNR will be using zebra mussel-sniffing K-9 teams for the first time this year to help combat the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Boaters are required by law to remove prohibited species from equipment before transporting from any water access.

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