The five or so inches of snow the area received Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, was good news for lakes area businesses, but it was only a start.
After another three or four inches blanketed the ground the weekend of Dec. 14-15, the area is watching the season heat up as temperatures cool down.
“At least we have some optimism that it does still snow in Minnesota,” Cindy Myogeto, of the Crosslake office of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, said after the first snowfall.
The National Weather Service in Duluth had reports of 5.2 inches Dec. 10 and 4.2 inches northwest of Brainerd on Dec. 17.
Myogeto said the extra inches added over the Dec. 14-15 weekend created a good base for snowmobilers.
“There are snowmobilers out and about, so that’s great,” she said.
John Wetrosky, at the Pine River Chamber of Commerce, echoed those thoughts.
“There are snowmobilers out on the trail. I think it’ll be a busy Christmas and New Year’s week,” Wetrosky said.
After the first snowfall, Wetrosky reported seeing both snowmobile tracks and pavement. After last weekend, though, the Paul Bunyan Trail is covered.
“It gave us some added base. It was pretty thin before that,” he said. “Now if it just keeps snowing an inch at a time that’ll be great.”
He expected groomers would be out before long.
In Pequot Lakes, Jenna Crawford, of the Pequot Lakes office of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, said she’d seen several snowmobiles go by Monday, which she found encouraging for the season. The snow is also good news for Mount Ski Gull, though the hill had been making its own snow. In fact, the hill opened two weeks early this year by making snow. As of Monday, Dec. 17, Ski Gull had an 18-inch base and planned for all its runs to be open by Dec. 22-23.
At Swanson’s Bait in Hackensack, Aaron Regier said the fishing was good, but the wet, heavy snow caused some problems. He’s hoping it doesn’t snow.
The weight of the snow sank the ice, causing water to come up through the cracks and turn the snow to slush. That means it’s easy to get stuck with vehicles, he said.
Before the Dec. 14-15 snowfall, the Hackensack area had 5-8 inches of ice. Since then it’s deteriorated some. Though it’s messy, lots of people are still going out fishing.
“You just have to be careful and check (ice thickness) a lot. It’s pretty safe as long as you’re not driving a vehicle,” Regier said.
He’s seeing good luck with panfish and walleye.
“We’re hoping it’s cold here,” he said.
Jason Erlandson, of Dave’s Sportland Bait in Nisswa, was also hoping for a lack of snow. He’s hoping for about 10 days of cold weather without a lot of snow, so that ice can build on the lakes.
“Most of our lakes, they’re fishing the edges,” Erlandson said of ice fishermen. “They’re starting to get four to five inches along shorelines, so they’re just starting to venture out. It’s a little iffy yet so they haven’t pushed it beyond that.”
He said the walleyes had been biting on the shore of Gull, and crappies and northerns were caught on smaller lakes that had 4-6 inches. The rain last weekend made some lakes a little sloppy, he said.
This is about two weeks behind the normal schedule for ice fishing, he said.
“We just need another 10 days of cold weather, and that looks like it’s coming ... as long as we don’t get a lot of snow now,” he said.
As of Tuesday, Dec. 18, the National Weather Service called for temperatures in the teens and 20s throughout the week, with mostly cloudy and partly sunny skies through Sunday, Dec. 23.