Lake of the Woods: Chillin' in Lunkerland
BAUDETTE, Minn. -- There are rules for ice fishing. Not many, but they exist.
You must find ice covering a body of water where fish are purported to live.
Have a fishing license, and a five-gallon bucket to lug your rods and tackle.
Possess patience. If patience is in short supply, make sure that either A) your ice auger has plenty of fuel in it, or B) you are not ice fishing.
All these rules apply on the Canadian border, but with a notable modification. When it comes to clothing, you'll want to multiply the "dress warm" rule by a factor of five. Because it gets very, very cold on Lake of the Woods, one of Minnesota's premiere fishing spots.
But if you can take the long drive and the piercing cold -- we're talking minus-50 wind chills -- there's a good chance the hungry walleye of Lake of the Woods will make it worth your while. And depending on how comfortable you want your fishing experience to be, your exposure to the elements can be drastically reduced.
Several fishing resorts line the lake's southern bay near Wheelers Point, while more are accessible farther north in Minnesota's Northwest Angle.
Fishing trips can be as lavish as you like. Prefer not to lift a finger? Some resorts will do everything but walk you to the restroom (an activity that always requires tact on the windy lake).
A full experience begins with a breakfast buffet. Once you're stuffed, it's time for a ride out to your fishing spot on a Bombardier. Though they vary in size and form, these are generally vehicles retrofitted with tank-like tracks, making them capable of scaling the tallest of snowdrifts.
Upon arrival at your pre-heated icehouse, pick out your seat, sink your line and stretch out. A Thermos of coffee and a pre-packed lunch will await anglers who opt for spendier packages.
The only unknowns lie between drop-off and dusk, when the Bombardiers return to get you.
If you're lucky enough during fishing hours, your catch of walleye will be cleaned and wrapped by resort staff. Then it's back to the lodge, where you'll pick out a first-class dinner.
To be sure, a trip with those extras comes at a price. Don't feel like shelling out the big bucks? No sweat. You'll save hundreds just by packing your own lunches, grabbing a pizza at the lodge and ensuring someone in your party is handy with a fillet knife.
Just remember to pack the long johns. Mother Nature won't care how plush your accommodations are when you're on your way to her restroom.