No snow, warm temps and strong sun means perfect season for early ice out and weeds

With Minnesota lakes headed for one of the earliest ice outs in years, weeds might be a downside to this expeditious exit of the ice.

A body of water with a horizon

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Battle Lake in west-central Minnesota is already nearly free of ice.

Contributed / Emily Larson

By Kevin Wallevand

March 08, 2024 at 6:48 PM

LAKE BLANCHE, Minn. — On some of Otter Tail County’s lake gems on Friday, March 8, it looked so inviting you almost wanted to take a dip. Lake Blanche is already clear of ice, while the fishing opener is still weeks away.

On Otter Tail, there are large sections of open water. We could be headed to a record ice out there. Up and down lakes country, from Middle Leaf to Lida, from Swan Lake to Silver, to East Battle Lake, the lakes are opening up. But with a lack of snow cover and warm temperatures, look out. The sun has been out, penetrating all winter long, and weeds, like curly-leaf pondweed, are on the way.

“That means we’re going to get ramped up here pretty soon,” said Troy Friedrich, owner and operator of Aquatic Weed Harvesting Company near Henning and Otter Tail. His family’s business has seen years similar to this, but nothing quite like this.

“With the warmer temperatures that we’ve had all winter, no snow cover. I mean, there’s been no snow on the lakes. The sun is penetrating through the ice. A lot of people think weeds die off in the winter but they truly don’t. They’re just dormant. It’s going to be a big change for us. We are going to be going a lot earlier this year than last year,” Friedrich said.

No arm temps and strong sun means perfect season for early ice out and weeds

Low lake levels in the fall going into winter will not only mean more weeds this spring, but sooner and thicker, too.

“The biggest thing we see with the low water levels and the early springs and whatnot, the weeds just come in faster, and they come in thicker, and people have trouble getting out of their boat channels or getting away from their docks,” Friedrich said.

The University of Minnesota says curly-leaf pondweed could really be an issue this summer because of our mild winter. Its growth is often closely tied to how much snow and lake ice we’ve had.