The ice is out! It is a bit earlier than I thought which tells you how much I know about this stuff.
On Sunday morning we woke up to solid ice in front of Gunflint. There was a good bit open in the bay in front of Moosehorn from the incoming water at Cross River. There was also open water of several feet along the shore. The ice was just black. But it still covered the vast majority of the lake.
We also woke up to a strong west wind. That combined with the really rotten ice did the trick. The wind started pushing on the edge of ice in front of Moosehorn. By noon the ice was gone past Gunflint and our home. There were white caps on the open water. Around 4:00 Lee and I drove down to Tiffany’s on the south shore. That’s ¾’s of the way down the lake to the east. The ice was pretty well out on the north shore but there was still a lot of ice on the south shore.
Sunday night the wind died and the ice settled into a mass at the east end of the lake. Probably 80% of the lake was clear. On Monday the wind was minimal. That night Cindy Tiffany could still see ice from her house. She just called me a few minutes ago (Tuesday morning) to say that she could no longer see any ice. So once again Gunflint is starting another season of open water.
I’ve got to tell you that the open water looks wonderful. The change of seasons is fun to watch but by the time the ice goes, we are all ready for it. Next on the list is that first boat ride. The water is still very cold so the boat ride will also be very cold. Any wind blowing across that water is a cold wind.
Also the water level of the lake is very low. I measure according to the logs on the dock. The water just barely covers the first log on the main dock cribbing. We need lots of rain to raise it up. A couple guides went into Little Gunflint to check the water level. They had to walk their boat through the narrows at the sand beach because they couldn’t float it with their weight. Lee told me that in the morning still water, he could see reefs off the summer home point on the west send of the lake.
Every lake is the same. Bruce and I were up working at the Chik-Wauk Museum site a week or so ago. The bay at Chik-Wauk is the lowest we have ever seen it. In fact we want to walk the low shore line to pick up litter that is now exposed. Who knows what we can find.
This low water also changes the walleye spawning habits. At the rapids at Campsite #18 in Trail’s End Campground, there is virtually no place with enough water for spawning. This is a major walleye spawning area on Saganaga Lake. In the rapids leading into Little Gunflint there is probably more water because there is beaver dam in Little Gunflint that keeps the water level higher. Cross River (the other major spawning area on Gunflint) is very low but there still seems to be some areas for spawning.
Low water or high water, we don’t have much control over it. Right now open water just looks good.