The Ice Warriors of Lake of the Woods
Nov 28th, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Nov 28th, 2014 at 12:00 AM
The Proud and Hearty Souls Working the Ice at Lake of the Woods
by Joe Henry
The start of the ice fishing season is very exciting. Anglers are eager to step foot on hard water for the first time of the upcoming ice fishing season and typically, the walleyes are in shallower water and very aggressive. Lake of the Woods resorts and the ice guides work the ice do a lot behind the scenes to ensure safety and a comfortable adventure.
It all begins with resort personnel checking ice conditions, well before many of us would prefer to take our first steps out on thin ice. Often times, they work together assessing the thickness of the ice, where the cracks are, where the best travel routes will be, chopping down ice upheavals and spraying water on land crossings which will freeze and harden making for easier travel.
Geo Tracker with people hauler trailer.Keith at Sportsmans LodgeArnesens bombardier and fish house
The safest ice route then is staked, marking the trail. This ice trail is checked every morning before anglers hit the ice. As ice thickens, temperatures fluctuate, the winds push on the ice and traffic on the ice increases causing ice conditions to change. Cracks, water seeping out of cracks, busted up ice, etc are part of life working the ice. Sometimes ice routes are re-routed. In some cases, resorts may resort to a bridge to go over a crack. These are all precautions to ensure safety and easier travel to and from your fishing spot.
The first anglers out are often local guides who are on foot. They are followed by anglers on ATV’s and snowmobiles who use the resort’s marked trails. Eventually when the ice thickens, the resorts will begin to use their “light ice rigs”. These are often Geo Trackers pulling an enclosed, heated people hauler trailers. These trailers are typically equipped with shocks, heaters and sometimes, LED lights.
When the ice thickens even more, light vehicles such as cars and light SUV’s, followed by 1/4 Ton, 1/2 ton and eventually, 1 ton pickups with sleeper houses will be allowed on the ice roads. For resorts who groom their own bomber trails, track rigs and bombardiers will begin to appear in the horizon as well.
In addition to maintaining ice roads, ice workers are constantly filling the fish house propane tanks, moving fish houses to stay on the fish, banking the house with snow once it is in a new spot, drilling and clearing new ice holes, dragging a trail in the snow for bombers or plowing the snow off of the ice in the case of an ice road and checking on anglers.
At the end of the day, after every customer is transported with their fish off of the ice, many of the ice guides will now clean fish. When the fish cleaning is completed, the ice transportation is fueled up and readied for the morning.
There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes at The Walleye Capital of the World to ensure anglers are safe and happy. These hearty souls who work the ice brave temperatures that can reach -40 degrees Fahrenheit, high winds, white outs, slippery conditions, long hours and muscle straining work. Yep, it is their job. But their dedication and hard work enables Lake of the Woods to be, arguably, the #1 ice fishing destination in world.
Like many things in life, as the saying goes, “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” If you get the chance, thank your ice guide for their efforts. They will surely appreciate it.