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Ice conditions vary greatly in Crow Wing County

Good ice? Bad ice? Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl isn't saying. As anglers get antsy to drive vehicles out onto the the rapidly freezing ice, Dahl knows that conditions vary widely on Crow Wing County's 400-plus lakes. "I never say that ice i...

Good ice? Bad ice? Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl isn't saying.

As anglers get antsy to drive vehicles out onto the the rapidly freezing ice, Dahl knows that conditions vary widely on Crow Wing County's 400-plus lakes.

"I never say that ice is good or bad ice," he said, noting that ice thickness ranges from 10 inches in one spot and 1 inch in another. "We've heard of anything from 6 inches to a foot on many of the lakes."

Still, he strongly recommends anglers refrain from driving trucks or large motor vehicles out on the ice at this early stage of the season since currents and other factors make ice conditions unpredictable.

"We have so many lakes," Dahl said. "Water is constantly moving. It's really hard to tell if there's going to be a soft spot. It's still iffy."

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Residents on Perch Lake in Baxter have reported stubborn open spots of water that are not frozen over yet.

Gene Haverkamp, who has fished and lived on Perch Lake for a dozen years, said the usual pattern at that lake is for the ice surface to freeze uniformly. This year, he said, that's not the pattern.

"We've never seen open water when the rest of the lake is frozen," he said.

While shallow parts of the lake have ice that's 9 inches thick there is open water in the middle of the lake that might catch night-time snowmobilers or all-terrain vehicle drivers by surprise.

"We're just a little concerned," he said. "We're trying to get the word out."

Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted said he hadn't heard any particular reports about open water on Perch Lake but he said his department usually defers to the sheriff's department, which is responsible for all county lakes or the Department of Natural Resources when it comes to ice safety.

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