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Ice is officially out in Ontario's Sunset Country!

Beautiful day in April in Nestor Falls, Ontario, Canada • Credit: Nestor Falls Fly-in Outposts
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Ice is officially out in Ontario's Sunset Country!

What a difference a year makes!

Other than a few northern lakes, the lakes in Northwest Ontario are free of ice.

As many of you may recall, the Winter/Spring of 2014 saw harsh conditions with record breaking snow and cold temperatures in Sunset Country. 2015 is a different story. With an average winter, the lakes all started opening up in mid-to-late April and most were free of ice in early May. The southern lakes like Rainy Lake along the US/Canada border usually open up first, followed by parts of Lake of the Woods and Eagle Lake, then the more northern lakes such as Perrault Lake, Lac Seul and Red Lake follow. The northern outpost lakes and the deep lake trout lakes are often the last to melt.

The third Saturday in May (May 16 in 2015) is the walleye opener in Ontario. Many people, both local and visitors count down the days until they can get back on the open water walleye fishing. The walleye fishery is very important and the spawn depends on when the ice goes out. Last year the walleye were still spawning as the season opened. During those late years, it's very important you carefully release all big female fish so they can continue to spawn to keep the fishery as great as it is here in Ontario. Luckily, this year, the majority should be done spawning for the opener (although lets still release the big ones please)

Here's a snapshot of the ice conditions in Northwest Ontario (more like open water conditions!).

Fort Frances

Tom Batiuk posted this photo of Rainy Lake on April 23rd. As you can see there's one big chunk of ice, but most of the ice is gone around the Town of Fort Frances. 

Rainy Lake almost free of ice. You can see the Noden Causeway in the back.

Rainy Lake almost free of ice. You can see the Noden Causeway in the back of the photo.

Clearwater Lake

True North Outposts & Cabins on Clearwater Lake in Emo had lots of black ice on March 30th. The ice officially went out April 19th. Unfortunately, it snowed April 21st putting a damper on the beautiful view. Thankfully the snow only lasted a day or two. Last year the ice went off around May 10th.

The ice was completely off Clearwater Lake on April 19, 2015

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Kashabowie Outposts air base is located on Eva Lake, near Atikokan and about two hours east of International Falls, Minnesota. The ice was gone and the docks were in by May 3rd. The only thing left would be waiting for the outpost lakes to free up so they can fly into them.

The docks are in at Kashabowie OutpostsThe docks are in at Kashabowie Outposts

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Lake of the Woods Area

Northwest Flying Inc. out of Nestor Falls, flew Don Pursch into Nielsen's Fly-in Lodge on Rowan Lake, Ontario on May 1st. Last year the earliest they were able to fly into Rowan Lake was May 13th.  

Rowan Lake was free of ice about 2 weeks before last year. Rowan Lake was free of ice about 2 weeks before last year.

I couldn't resist adding this photo of the kids at Northwest Flying since it reminds me of my childhood. Growing up my neighbour and I were always trying to outdo the other on who could go swimming first. Let me tell you, we didn't stay in long. But I can stay I have gone in the day the ice went and it was freezing!

You've heard of ice-trout fishing, well here's ice-out swimming!You've heard of ice-trout fishing, well here's ice-out swimming!

Northwest Flying on Facebook

Imagine seeing this sunset on your first boat ride of the season? This is what Totem Resorts was treated to on their first day on open water on Long Bay, Lake of the Woods. Official ice-out for them Totem was April 29th. 

Beautiful sunset over Lake of the Woods.Beautiful sunset over Lake of the Woods.

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Crow Rock Lodge was able to get to their boat-in lodge on Lake of the Woods just south of Kenora, Ontario on April 29th. As you can see, the water is very low.

The water is really low at the beginning of the season.The water is really low at the beginning of the season.

Crow Rock Lodge on Facebook

Separation Lake Lodge is located on the lower portion of the English River System near Minaki, Ontario. The water level there is about 8' below normal. If you are heading out that way this summer, be very careful as you can see in the photo there are many structures and rocks that are normally underwater. At least there will be lots of beaches!

Separation Lake Camp Facebook pageSome structures that may have taken off your lower end in past years are now above water.

Separation Lake Lodge updates on Facebook

Thunder Lake

Norma Kiiskila submitted this photo for the CKDR Sunset Country Photo Album. It was taken May 3rd at Johnson's Beach on Thunder Lake in Dryden. Norma said "Saturday evening there was a lot of ice on the lake except for the north side. The wind really picked up, the rain came and the ice travelled very quickly to the shore. Mother Nature is truly awesome!" You can submit your own Sunset Country photos to CKDR by emailing ckdrphotos@radioabl.ca or mccarthy.richard@radioabl.ca

Ice pushed up against the shore of Thunder Lake near Dryden, OntarioIce pushed up against the shore of Thunder Lake near Dryden, Ontario

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Dinorwic Lake

Pine Sunset Lodge is located on Dinorwic Lake near Dryden, Ontario. Once the ice starts to melt, it doesn't take long to be completely free. By May 1st the lake was completely free.

Check out the ice progression on Dinorwic Lake in less than a week!Check out the ice progression on Dinorwic Lake in less than a week!

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Sioux Lookout

Slate Falls Outposts was just waiting for the final bit of ice to go out on a sunny day on May 4th, 2015. The planes are probably in the water by now, getting ready to get out to their outposts on lake St Joseph, Minniss and Maskara Lakes.

Slate Falls Outposts near Sioux LookoutSlate Falls Outposts near Sioux Lookout

Slate Falls Outposts on Facebook

Lac Seul Floating Lodges posted this neat photo of the ice on April 19th. There was still 17" (432mm) of ice at the Hudson waterfront. When they measured on April 13th, it was 25". The ice was gone from the harbourfront in early May, however, there was an aerial sightings report of ice flows still at Bear Narrows on Lac Seul.

17" of ice on Lac Seul on April 19th17" of ice on Lac Seul on April 19th, 2015 Lac Seul Floating Lodges on Facebook 

Fireside Lodge on Little Vermilion Lake officially marked it's ice-out day as May 3rd. Last year it was out on May 19th!  

Little Vermilion Lake is open!Little Vermilion Lake is open! 

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Highway 105

Rocky Shore Lodge's magnificent view of Perrault Lake - ice free as of May 3rd!

Perrault Lake is open!Perrault Lake is open!

Rocky Shore Lodge on Facebook

Woman River Camp's resident dog, Timber is enjoying the view of Little Bear Lake. The lake north of Ear Falls, Ontario opened up May 2nd.

Timber has probably already gone for a swim!Timber has probably already gone for a swim!

Woman River Camp on Facebook 

After some storms rolled through on May 3rd, the ice on Gullrock Lake near Red Lake is gone. I just love this photo from Golden Hook Camp

Beautiful view from Golden Hook Camp Beautiful view from Golden Hook Camp Golden Hook Camp on Facebook

The Red Lake, Ontario Facebook page posted this beautiful photo of Howey Bay in Red Lake. Taken April 30th from the Government Dock in Red Lake. The ice was gone by May 3rd.

Beautiful shot of Howey Bay a few days before the ice left for good.Beautiful shot of Howey Bay a few days before the ice left for good. Follow updates about Red Lake Ontario on Facebook

You can see Viking Island's new red roof on Douglas Lake in the Woodland Caribou Provincial Park west of Red Lake. This aerial shot confirms the ice went out May 2nd. 

Aerial view of Viking IslandAerial view of Viking Island

Updates on Viking Island on Facebook

Thunder Bay 

Wilderness North's De Havilland Beaver takes its first 2015 flight from Thunder Bay, Ontario on May 6th. You can see the Sleeping Giant on the left. While many of their most northern outposts may still have ice on them at least they can get out and check on the ice conditions.

Wilderness North's first flight of 2015Wilderness North's first flight of 2015 Updates on Wilderness North on Facebook

Wow! If you're still reading, thank you!  With so many lakes in the area, it's hard to cut back on the updates.

So there you have it, most lakes are now open and I hope you have a chance to visit one of them this summer.  If you haven't booked a trip yet, please order our free Travel Guide & Map in the link below. 

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