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Fishers, bait shops navigate mild winter for ice fishing

Even though fishers can't agree on how they feel on the temperature, the thrill of the hobby is still bringing dozens out to the lakes.

A kid holds up a fish he caught in Detroit Lakes on Sunday, Jan. 10. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

DETROIT LAKES — Dozens dug holes with their augers around Big Detroit Lake, with many not wearing full winter gear, as the temperature stayed above 0 degrees Fahrenheit throughout Sunday, Jan. 10.

Ryan Anderson, who has done ice fishing off and on over the past 10 years, said he's gone through many different types of winters.

"This year, we're enjoying more just sitting out on the ice versus sitting in the fish house," he said, talking about spending the day with his family. "You get a little more spread out and fresh air."

Quality Bait & Tackle, located just near downtown Detroit Lakes, has been experiencing a steady flow of traffic, despite the mild winter and the pandemic, according to a store spokesperson.

While the shelves may be getting picked clean and restocked constantly, Anderson said he still feels prepared for the whole winter.


"I shop (for equipment) early in the season, and we always have enough from the previous years that we really don't have to buy anything, but it's still fun to pick up a few new lures every so often," he said.

Katie Gaugert of Detroit Lakes holds her rod, hoping to catch a fish in the frozen lake. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

Katie Gaugert, who's just taking up ice fishing, said the mild winter hasn't made a great first impression on her.

"These winters, you're at the bottom, so it kind of takes a little longer to find the fish," she said.

Besides just the fishing, some said it's tougher getting onto the ice with a fish house when it's a warmer than usual January.

Ryan Anderson of Detroit Lakes holds one of two fishing rods while ice fishing in Detroit Lakes. Tanner Robinson / WDAY


"From that standpoint, it's a lot easier when it's colder, because you have thicker ice," Anderson said.

Even though the warmer winter is giving off mixed results, most out on the lake Sunday said they'll reel days like this in any time, much like their catches.

"When you're sitting out here, you get to meet everybody, kids are out here, pets are out here," Gaugert said. "It's like a family."

Tanner Robinson is a producer for First News on WDAY-TV.
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