Déjà vu: Will ice melt in time for fishing opener?

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This winter was brutal, there's no doubt about it. And with a colder-than-average spring thus far, many fishermen are asking if the ice will be out in time for the fishing opener.

Fishermen are hoping there isn't a repeat of last year when some fishing hotspots in northern Minnesota were still covered in ice. (Click here for last year's ice-out dates.)

It's looking that way, though. Many lakes in central and northern Minnesota have 3-plus feet of ice and snow to melt before the season opens on May 10 – just six short weeks away, according to the St. Cloud Times. Despite some days of snow melt, ice conditions haven't changed in most parts of the state and the shorelines are showing few signs of a spring thaw, the newspaper says.

There's little hope for a warm up with the current forecast, which is predicting up to a foot of snow in northern Minnesota Monday into Tuesday. And, the National Weather Service's long-range forecast is predicting below-normal temperatures for April, the Star Tribune says.

“We’ve made no progress toward spring,’’ Henry Drewes, Department of Natural Resources regional fisheries manager in Bemidji, told the Star Tribune. “We’ve been making ice the past week.’’

The St. Cloud times says low 40-degree days and 30-degree nights does little to melt the ice – lakes need some consecutive 50-degree days and above freezing temperatures at night to speed up the ice-out process.

It also doesn't help that this year's fishing opener is one of the earliest allowed under state law, which states the fishing season starts two Saturdays before Memorial Day weekend, the Star Tribune says.

The ice could put a damper on the fishing opener – and the fish. The longer the ice stays on the lakes, the greater the chance there is of an increase in fish kills around the state. Fish kills are caused by decreased oxygen in the lake – snow and ice covering the lake limits oxygen in the water.

In other fishing news: The DNR announced walleye fishing regulations for Mille Lacs lake last week. Also, a proposed statewide minimum size limit for muskies of 55 inches is being pushed at the Minnesota Capitol, the Pioneer Press says.

The DNR is also reminding people that cold temperatures doesn't mean strong ice this time of year – it may not be safe to walk on.

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