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Lake of the Woods Ice Fishing: When Does Lake of The Woods Freeze Over?

Lake of the Woods ice fishing

It’s no secret that seasons change in Minnesota, and we are headed into winter once again. Many anglers (ourselves included) are chomping at the bit to get out for some Lake of the Woods ice fishing. We look forward to it every year like kids waiting for Christmas morning, but when does Lake of the Woods freeze over? When do we finally get to hit the ice? Well, we have an answer and a few helpful tips to stay updated as we transition into the ice fishing season. 

When Does Lake of the Woods Freeze Over?Lake of the Woods ice fishing

Lake of the Woods, as many know, is the largest lake in Minnesota aside from Superior. It takes a bit for it to freeze from shore to shore, but its location allows that to happen at just about the same rate as its smaller neighboring lakes. Northern Minnesota gets quite a bit colder earlier on in the season than southern portions of the state, but with its sheer size, we run at about the same pace for ice in. Most years, ice begins to form in mid-late November, but has started as soon as mid-October. Though we get excited to see it, it is nowhere near safe enough to walk out on. 

The bay always freezes earlier due to shallower waters, but it’s still a game of patience for the ice to be safe. Historically, the Lake of the Woods resorts that tend to keep track of ice patterns say that late November is when “testers” will head out on foot with rods to see how thick the ice is getting. 4 inches is typically what is considered safe for pedestrian travel and that is typically seen by December. Mid-December is when we see the ice thickening up enough for ATV and snowmobile travel. Late December and early January is when the real fun starts with trucks hauling their ice fishing houses and plows creating literal roads on the ice for anglers to travel out onto the lake. It’s basically a Christmas gift for anglers every year as long as Mother Nature cooperates. 

#1 Safety Tip: Keep Up with Ice Reports

Lake of the Woods ice fishingAlthough we would absolutely love to have exact dates every year, ice and the weather are completely unpredictable. Some years, winter comes in with its head reared and a cold bite right off the bat. Other years we get an extended fall with warmer temperatures and the ice comes in a bit later. It’s all up to nature, but Lake of the Woods resorts like River Bend Resort try our best to stay on top of it to make sure we can hit the ice as soon as it’s ready. 

As much as we dislike waiting, safety comes first when it comes to going out onto the ice. Whether you are heading out with a resort or venturing out for a solo Lake of the Woods ice fishing trip, the best way to stay safe and check on ice conditions is to follow the Lake of the Woods ice report. We all want to go, but ice in is one party you don’t want to arrive early for. So, when November rolls around, check in with the Lake of the Woods ice report and be the first to know when the ice is here!

Are You Ready for Lake of the Woods Ice Fishing?Lake of the Woods ice fishing

Once the ice is here, you won’t have to look far to find a fantastic resort for your Lake of the Woods ice fishing adventure. River Bend Resort is situated on the banks of the Rainy River and has easy access right into the bay on Lake of the Woods. This means that we typically see ice before other areas of the lake and are the first to get the chance to start drilling holes. Enjoy a number of ice house and sleeper house rentals, cabin accommodations, delicious food on site at our very own Miles Lab Bar and Grill, and all the other amenities that we have to offer. We may be waiting for ice, but we are set to go the minute the lake gives us the green light, so get ready for another great year of Lake of the Woods ice fishing!


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