Community Alert

Can too much snow really be a bad thing for those who embrace all the wonderful opportunities there are for Minnesotans to do during the winter months? Absolutely yes!

If you happen to own one of those beautiful high end wheel houses which make ice fishing even during the polar vortex fun, you are going to be seriously challenged by all the snow and slush. Many of these units may find themselves parked on shore for much of the winter. An early cold snap in November capped many of the lakes over for winter. This early ice really didn’t get a chance to set up the thickness needed to withstand the heavy snows of early December, and now the warmer temperatures leading up to the new year.

So now we have a mess for many of the favorite destinations for ice anglers. Deep snow, slush and marginal ice are making it almost impossible, even for those who are using portables to get out on many of the lakes. Four-wheelers are finding themselves getting high centered in the deep snow and slush. With the amount of slush, and the challenges facing eager anglers, those who are venturing out to fish are walking and pulling their equipment.

What’s the answer, time and patience. If we do not experience any more heavy wet snows, and we get some good extended cold snaps, the conditions should improve to the point where the ice villages which adorn many of the lakes across the state will start to spring up quickly.

With over 22,000 miles of snowmobile trails crossing the entire state, the snow conditions couldn’t be better so early in the year. However, heavy snows so early in the year have prohibited the ability for many of the volunteer snowmobile clubs that groom most of the state’s trail system to access the lowland swamps and water features which tie the network system of trails together. All the heavy wet snow laid down a blanket of insulation over the swamps not allowing the swamps to freeze. Clubs have been out in Argo type all-terrain vehicles packing and widening trails through the lowlands. The clubs are also asking for snowmobile riders who are out riding to help pack down the snow in the swamps so the cold weather can freeze them up to allow grooming operations to begin. Snowmobile trails which are using former rail road grades are finding excellent riding conditions. Trails like the Soo Line trail, Luce Line trail and the Paul Bunyan trail are two of the “rails to trails” corridors which are in spectacular condition and the clubs have been out grooming these since all the heavy snows. If you have any interest in how volunteer snowmobile clubs groom and maintain the trail systems, join your local club. Many hands make light work and the more members out working the trails, the better for all snowmobilers.

My advice to anyone who is thinking about heading out to do a little ice fishing or some snowmobiling is to check ahead and have a solid game plan. For ice fishing, check in with the local bait shop closest to your destination. They will have first-hand information about current lake conditions.

If you are snowmobiling, I would check the Minnesota United Snowmobile Associations website. Go to and click on their trail report section. You can link to either the local clubs and their grooming reports or the DNR trail report link. Have a great winter riding and “ride right”.

Jeff Weaver is an outdoorsman and columnist.

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