By Dan Johnson

After nearly seven full months of open water, the first lakes in my central Minnesota territory are finally icing up again. And we’re not talking just a tantalizing ring of skim around the edges, either. As of last weekend, several of the lakes I checked in the Cambridge area were totally iced over. Yes, there was water oozing from the fault lines of the delicate, newly emerging glaze, but it was a shore-to-shore cloaking nonetheless.

Actually, the order in which the lakes on my personal go-to list are solidifying has been a bit surprising, considering two of the larger, deeper lakes iced over ahead of at least one small, shallow, crappie honey hole. However, the latter lake has ample current coming through, not to mention a few springs scattered around the shoreline, which could explain why the little gem is holding out for another day or two.

Once the skin is on, it’s time to pray for cool, fair weather, with no heavy snows to slow the thickening process. Thankfully, the forecast calls for cool temps throughout the week—including a dip below zero—with only a shot at flurries on Monday. The following week we might top 30 for highs a couple of days, and there’s a hint of snow for the first of December, but by then the foundation should be in place for the season.

Judging by the reports from around the region, plenty of other lakes are icing over as well, with anglers venturing forth on select first-freeze lakes in the north. All of which means it’s high time to make those final tweaks to our tackle and get set for the first round of hardwater action.