When most people think of Lake Minnetonka, perhaps a warm, sun-splashed day crawling with boats comes to mind.
Ice Fishing Houses In The Distance On Grays Bay, Lake Minnetonka
No doubt the lake is a big draw when the days are long, but when the north wind blows fiercely and the temperatures plummet, lake activity doesn’t hibernate – it simply takes a different shape.
A great example of this weekend’s Wayzata’s Chilly Open. The community has hosted the event since 1984. Nearly 2,000 people are likely to take part in the unique frozen golf event.
Another example of winter lake activity is ice fishing which has a long history on Lake Minnetonka.
Thelma Jones documented ice fishing on Lake Minnetonka in the early 1900s in her 1957 book Once Upon a Lake. Jones told the stories of many of the early settlers of the area.
William A. Gonyea was 90 years old when he looked back on a lifetime of ice fishing.
Gonyea was quoted in the book, “It’s the excitement. There’s something about ice fishing if you have the patience. You sit there watching the bobber. There’s something about it. Maybe today they’ll bite.”
Despite improvements in clothing and equipment, the number of people ice fishing each year continues to drop.
In the past, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducted aerial surveys of the number of fish houses on Lake Minnetonka. In 1961, the DNR spotted 2,125 houses from above. During the last year of aerial surveys, 2003, only 242 were recorded.
Warmer temperatures and thinner ice have had an impact over the years.
But the lake is still full of fish. And for those who brave the elements, it can be very rewarding.
There’s less competition than in the old days and less worry that your fellow angler will move in and crowd your lucky spot.
So, make a seat on your bucket or cozy up in that fancy fish house and enjoy the peaceful quiet of a lake that can be enjoyed all through the year.