Take a trip before winter wanes

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What a difference a couple weeks make!

In my last column, I was talking about the mild weather, and welcoming the fact that with February, we were finally getting a shot of winter! Here, just 14 days later, snow continues to pile up, and we are recovering from subzero temperatures with double digit wind chills. And based on the forecast, it is not over yet.

What do most people do when it gets this bad? Take a trip somewhere warm and sunny, of course! Well, I have a different idea.

Why not take a trip to a destination ice fishing resort or location? if you like to ice fish but donít enjoy the work of loading and launching, shoveling, drilling and cleaning up after the day is over, then a fully guided ice fishing vacation may be for you.

Letís take a look at several destination ice fishing trips that can still be taken this year.

If a full-service, full-immersion trip is what you seek, then I canít think of a better place then Minnesotaís Lake Of The Woods. This area has everything an ice angler could want ó crappie, perch, walleye, pike, lake trout and more. The fishery is only one highlight. This is ice-fishing country, with dozens of resorts offering plowed ice roads, luxury permanent fishing houses, rides out on heated ďbombersĒ (multipassenger ice transports) and more square miles of reefs, humps, flats and bars than any other body of water in the U.S. You can even fish from a bar stool at the Igloo Bar.

Arnesons, Border View Lodge, Sportsmans Lodge and other resorts offer an experience like no other. Check out www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com for information on ďThe Walleye Capital of the World.Ē

Next on my list is a trip to Devilís Lake, North Dakota.

If you like to fish for perch, walleye and pike, Devilís Lake offers incredible opportunities, from simple lodging for the total do-it-yourselfer to fully guided luxury lodging trips from Woodland Resort with meals included. Woodland is home to the world famous Perch Patrol, and recent building projects have launched Woodland into premier status, in my view.

There are a number of options; from day houses to guided trips in fully enclosed ice-fishing vehicles. To find out more, visit www.devilslakend.com.

For a unique ice-fishing trip, check out the opportunities for giant brown, rainbow and lake trout in Lake Michiganís Milwaukee Harbor. These fish are huge and it is definitely a new experience to catch giant trout under the skyscrapers of Milwaukee. Friend and fellow Clam/Ice Team Pro staffer Eric Haataja is a pioneer in this fishery and has perfected a system of jigging and dead sticking, even designing his own line of rods. Contact him and his son Cal at www.wibigfish.com and tell them I sent you.

Manitoba, Canada, offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the world in some of the most remote areas of the continent. The location doesnít mean you wonít be treated like royalty at dozens of year-round fishing lodges.

Canadaís strict catch-and-release policies on the majority of its waters mean species like lake trout and northern pike have time to grow into giants. Other species, like walleye and whitefish, are eaten. One lodge on my bucket list is Wekusko Falls Lodge, but you can look at other options on www.huntfishmanitoba.ca

Lastly, we offer full service guided fishing on Fort Peck, a destination for many ice anglers from across the U.S.

While it is closer to home for many readers, the fishing can be just as good as any of the other places mentioned here.

And, there is still time to get signed up for our first annual 44 Hours of Fort Peck tournament, happening March 1-3. More info at www.howesfishing.com.

Iíll see you on the water!

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