Last year, I was standing on 8″ of clear ice on November 26th near Detroit Lakes, MN. It’s December 7th and there is still plenty of open water across the midwest. A few smaller lakes have ice, but a layer of snow and a week of daytime temperatures in the upper 30s and lower 40s has significantly deteriorated conditions.
This week’s forecast does not look much better. Highs will be again in the lower 40s and there is a chance of rain which will further weaken the ice that has already formed. The good news (for ice fishermen anyway) is that the warm weather won’t last forever. Starting this weekend, we should start to see temperatures consistently below freezing across the midwest. I predict that there will be reasonably safe ice within about a week and a half to two weeks across most of North Dakota and Minnesota.
This prediction is based completely upon the extended forecast at the time of posting. Please call your local bait shop to ask about ice conditions before going out and be extremely careful on the ice.
If you haven’t winterized your boat and you can find a boat ramp that isn’t too icy, I hear the late fall/early winter walleye bite has been great!
EDIT 12/15/15: My enthusiasm about colder weather and ice conditions improving may have been premature. A few more days with highs above freezing plus 4-7″ of snow expected tonight certainly aren’t helping the cause. 48 anglers were rescued from Red Lake the other day, so be careful if you are going out. Near-zero temps are on the way later in the week though. My advice is to wait until there has been steady cold and again, BE CAREFUL.