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When Will the Ice Go Out in Northwest Ontario?

Will we be ice fishing on Saturday? • Credit: Jodie Valenta
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When Will the Ice Go Out in Northwest Ontario?

Part II - 2014

With one day left to the walleye opener and the start of the May Long weekend, many people are wondering, can I get out on the lake?

Some lakes are open and some, unfortunately, are not. With the record cold winter and a miserable cold spring, Mother Nature has just not been good to us. Last weekend I wrote an ice out article that updated conditions with one week to opener. While last weekend was hot and sunny and *gasp* summer-like, this week saw below freezing temps and even some snow! This morning there was a layer of frost on my windshield. I know, it's not what you wanted to hear but believe me, it's really not what we want after the winter we had. If you haven't booked your fishing trip to Canada yet, you can link to lodges in the area that offer walleye fishing. It is warming up, I promise.

So with a day to walleye opener, here's an update on some of the lake conditions in Sunset Country:

I'll start with some good news:

Canoe Canada out of Atikokan is flying and they have their outpost cabins open for business! Most of their outposts are near Atikokan and the Turtle River/White Otter Wilderness area.

It's nice to see some open water down there.It's nice to see some open water down there.

Like Canoe Canada on Facebook

Little Moose Lodge on the Clearwater-Pipestone Chain of Lakes north of Emo posted this photo on May 13 of their open water view. The rain the day before melted any ice that was left.

Little Moose Lodge's ice out day is May 13, 2014Little Moose Lodge's ice out day is May 13, 2014

Totem Resorts on Lake of the Woods have open water at their two drive-in resorts in Sioux Narrows. They tried on May 14th to drive to their boat to camp further west on the lake. They were unable to make it but figured they would be able to make it on Thursday.

At least the ice is turning black, which means it won't take long to melt.At least the ice is turning black, which means it won't take long to melt.

Like Totem Resorts on Facebook for updates

Again, one of the best resources on ice out of Lake of the Woods is the blog www.icepatrol.ca. Tim Armstrong is a pilot who has been documenting the ice out from a bird's eye view. Unfortunately, there is a lot of ice on Lake of the Woods. I've included two of his photos taken May 15th in this article, but you should really take a look at his blog: he has a ton of photos and great descriptions.

This photo shows Scotty's Beach at the bottom center of the picture, looking west towards Crow Rock, Whiskey Island, and Wolf Island. Tim thinks there is too much ice between Kenora and the Barrier Islands for them to be accessible this weekend. You see you can't park at Scotty's Beach yet.

There's still a lot of ice on Lake of the WoodsThere's still a lot of ice on Lake of the Woods

This photo looks north and shows everything from Channel Island on the left to Town Island on the right, and it's all open water. Yay! Treaty Island is open all the way around, as is Rogers Island.

The water closer to Kenora is open.The water closer to Kenora is open.

In the Vermilion Bay area, things are starting to look up and should be open either by Saturday or shortly thereafter. Big Canon Lake Lodge posted the following photo. It looks like the ice is on its last leg. The water is very high though. On Wednesday, Clark's Camps had enough open water on Cedar Lake to take off for an aerial view. They found that most lakes in the area are still about 70% ice covered. Cedar Lake is about 50% ice covered. The ice that is left is very thin and very black. They predict that the ice will be out by Saturday or Sunday on their lakes and most area lakes. The fly-in lakes up north will go out a few days later.

 Big Canon Lake as of May 15, 2014.Big Canon Lake as of May 15, 2014.

Like Big Canon on Facebook for updates

Ignace is located about half way between Kenora and Thunder Bay on the Trans-Canada Highway. The Township of Ignace posted this photo of West Beach on Agimak Lake. West Beach is looking better than Agimak Beach on the other side of the lake. The float plane operators have the planes in the water, but many of the outposts camps are still iced in. They should be opening shortly.

 West Beach in Ignace on Agimak Lake.West Beach in Ignace on Agimak Lake.

Like the Town of Ignace on Facebook

These beautiful shots of the ice melting on Wabaskang Lake by Sleepy Dog Cabins show some difference even with the cold days. They figure the ice will be totally out late Saturday. The water has risen 28" in 3 weeks, the fastest increase in a very long time.

The difference in 5 days on Wabaskang Lake in Perrault FallsThe difference in 5 days on Wabaskang Lake in Perrault Falls

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Residents on McKenzie Island in Red Lake take a ferry called Miss McKenzie II from mainland to the island in the summer. During breakup, the trek home is a little more difficult. These residents are canoeing home. I wouldn't want to fall in!

Residents on McKenzie Island are caoeing home!Residents on McKenzie Island are canoeing home!

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Viking Island & Outposts run a lodge and have many outposts around the Red Lake area. The following is a photo of Douglas Lake taken on Wednesday, May 14th. It's starting to go and with the sun in the next few days, things should be looking up.

Douglas Lake west of Red LakeDouglas Lake west of Red Lake

Here's a picture of McInnes Lake taken by Cal Gosselin on Thursday. He is a pilot at Wasaya Airlines out of Red Lake. The open water that you see in the foreground is in front of Viking's South Camp.

Here's a picture of McInnes Lake taken by Cal GosselinAerial photo of McInnes Lake taken by Cal Gosselin 

 Like Viking Island & Outposts on Facebook for updates

Pickerel Arm Camps, just south of Sioux Lookout posted this update photo of their drive in resort on Minnitaki. The ice shifted and is now floating out of the bay.

Pickerel Arm Camp as of May 15.Pickerel Arm Camp as of May 15.

Pickerl Arm Camp on Facebook

Mattice Lake Outfitters flew from Armstrong to their northern outposts and wilderness lodges. Below is just one of the photos they posted on Facebook. As you can see there is still ice on Whitewater. The beach still looks good though. I want to visit it! The ice on all of the lakes is getting thinner every day and a good wind would make a big difference. It'll be only a few days for sure.

Whitewater Lake north of ArmstongWhitewater Lake north of Armstrong

Mattice Lake Outfitters on Facebook

So while the ice conditions are not ideal, things are definitely better than last week. Whatever you do this long weekend, I hope you enjoy yourself. They are predicting decent weather. If you can't get out on the lake Saturday, at least you can sit out in the sun with a drink on the deck or dock and take in the beautiful scenery and listen to the loons. 

When we have a late ice out, there are a few things to remember:

  • Watch out for ice chunks. Even if it looks OK, keep an eye out while on the lake.
  • Make sure you are in contact with your resort to be sure they have opened up. Most should be OK, but some of the deep trout lakes will probably need a few more days.
  • Please think of the future walleye fishery while fishing this opening weekend. The walleyes will be late with their spawn. Taking fat female walleyes right now will hurt the future walleye population. Please release those females gently back into the water and keep the smaller male walleye for your supper.

Have fun. Tight lines!

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