Minnesota Ice Seasons Are Two Weeks Shorter Than Fifty Years Ago

If the ice fishing season in Minnesota for you feels like it’s getting shorter and shorter every year, well, you would be correct. Steadily increasing average temps are causing Minnesota lakes to have fewer days covered with ice each year. Experts say that if these shorter ice seasons continue, it could lead to widespread algal blooms, which would impact the state’s overall fish population.

On Friday, Dec. 10th, 2021,¬†Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency¬†released data showing that Minnesota lakes, on average, have upwards of fourteen fewer days per season with less ice coverage than lakes did nearly fifty years ago. The most interesting trend noted was the lakes seeing the more significant number of days per year lost with ice coverage in lakes located in the state’s northern regions.

Table of Days of Ice Coverage in Minnesota From 1967 to 2020

Between 1967 and 2020, statewide, the average freeze over date for Minnesota lakes has been reduced by nine days, and the average July-August surface water temperature has increased by 3.0-3.9 degrees. Today, Lake Bemidji in Beltrami County sees nineteen days less with no ice coverage per season than in the 1960s. In 1967, Lake Waconia in Carver County saw fifteen more days per year with ice coverage.

The MN Pollution Control Agency’s Report Shares a Grim Future for Minnesota Lakes

“Potential for more fish kills. Fish will squeeze into smaller zones for access to oxygen, with lakes too

warm at the surface and too little oxygen at the bottom. This competition for limited oxygen leads to

fish kills.”

The report also said Minnesota’s cold-water fish populations would severely suffer due to the increased “dead zones” and areas void of dissolved oxygen in lakes.

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