As area resorts and hotels prepare for ice fishing, it is good to reflect. It has been a year like no other. The pandemic kicking in this past March raised havoc on America which has never lived through a pandemic before. Up at Lake of the Woods, it all started out by cutting short ice fishing mid March. It then rolled into spring fishing and then with restrictions on charter boats, most of May. Businesses shut down for a time, were under a myriad of restrictions and had to learn how to run differently in order to protect both employees and guests.
With an entire spring, summer and fall of learning and implementing procedures different than ever done before, it is safe to say things are in order. Lodging facilities up at Lake of the Woods are now preparing to welcome winter guests and are ready for ice fishing.
People of all types enjoy ice fishing. For some, it is about catching walleyes. For others, it is much more of a social affair, with good food and good company. More and more families are hitting the ice together. Regardless of what kind of group you come up with, social distancing and taking precautions around Lake of the Woods and enjoying the traditions of ice fishing in a safe manner is very doable.
Lake of the Woods County is one of the lower populated counties in the state with a population around 4,000. There are literally more deer than there are people. With that being said, there is so much land and in the winter, frozen lake to get away from it all. One still has to take precautions, but the wide open natural landscape while ice fishing gives anglers a chance to social distance to their heart’s content.
Safety measures area businesses are implementing come in many forms. In some cases, where you check in and check in procedures themselves have changed. Some guests feel the most comfortable to check in online.
Cleaning protocols throughout the lodges, cabins, guest rooms, kitchens, bars, boats, ice transportation and fish houses have changed. Like many things in life, there is a lot happening behind the scenes that nobody will ever see, but greatly benefits guests.
Adhering to the MN Department of Health regulations, resorts, hotels, guides and areas businesses up at Lake of the Woods have had the spring, summer and fall to get in place protocols and are ready to welcome guests this winter. The practice of using masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing are in place. There are also limits on how many people can be in restaurants at a time, how many can be seated together at a table and how many can sit at a bar in a group. This is certainly different that what anyone is used to, but very doable.
For some who want to avoid contact with others, there has been much more communication over the phone and online. Some examples include details of the trip, where fish houses are on the ice, where their room or cabin is located, having the door unlocked and your key(s) waiting for you inside your unit.
Resorts are still offering meals and meal plans, some with the option of delivery and take out. Many resorts have placed menus within cabins and customers can place orders with either delivery to the door of their room or cabin or having one person of the groups pick up the meals.
Some resorts are dropping off breakfast, minnows and a fish house map at the cabin door each morning. Again, an effort to limit exposure as much as possible for those who would prefer not to come into the lodge.
Some anglers choose to bring their own fish house and utilize the ice roads on Lake of the Woods. Whether it is a wheelhouse or a collapsible fish house, there are options for anglers who are do it yourselfers as well.
These are unprecedented times for all and guidelines put out by various branches of our government and CDC need to be adhered to. Fishing and enjoying the outdoors can be a way to take care of ones mind and spirit and for some is very important. It can also be done in very small groups with limited interaction with others. Adapting has and will continue to take place to ensure safety.
The best way to understand what each lodging facility has done regarding COVID-19 for the ice fishing season is to check out their website, Facebook page or give them a call.
Lake of the Woods businesses in the hospitality industry are some of the most resourceful and caring people in the industry. It is no surprise these hard working folks are finding a way and adapting to the times.
The forecast for ice fishing this winter is very positive. The population of walleyes and saugers is good and we expect a great ice fishing season. Based on your level of comfort and how you prefer to handle precautions with COVID-19, we feel there is an option for just about everyone. We welcome you to Lake of the Woods. Come up, get away from it all and experience The Walleye Capital of the World!
Last modified: 11/06/2020