Ice out in the BWCA

The days of winter are getting longer and customers are starting to call about canoe rentals. It is the time of year I start to think about summer. Winter always hangs on longer than expected here in Northern Minnesota, but with minimal ice cover on our lakes this year just maybe spring will be sooner than normal. As of now we have 18” of ice or less on most of the lakes in the Boundary Waters. This is close to half of what we have seen in past years. This is not to say there is not tons of snow in the woods, in fact all the snow we got earlier this winter is part of the reason that we have so little ice. It has been insulating our lakes and slowing ice formation since we got a big storm just after thanksgiving.

So, with such a smaller amount of ice on area lakes will we be paddling any sooner this year? In the past couple years we have been left wondering into May if the ice will be off in time for the annual fishing opener on the second Sunday of May. Gunflint Lake is usually one the last lakes in the state for all of its ice to disappear. Last year ice could be found on Gunflint Lake until May 12th. The earliest that the ice has gone out of Gunflint was on March 23rd in 2012.

Sawtooth Staff Predictions

It is always hard to predict ice out, especially with all of March left to go. However, I can’t imagine that we will still have ice going into May again this year. If I were to place a bet for an ice out date in the Boundary Waters this year I would say April 15th. Yep, I think it might come early this year, but who am I to say? Sarah is not quite as optimistic and thinks it will be closer to May 1st. Only time will tell. What do you think, when will we be dipping our paddles in the Boundary Waters in 2020?


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