Winter Freezing Fish Lake Energizes Anglers, Local Businesses

When the fish start biting, anglers start biting at the products and services of local businesses.

DULUTH, Minn.- For residents and businesses around smaller bodies of water like Fish Lake in Duluth, winter with its frozen water and snowy trails bring back anglers, snowmobilers, and a much-needed boost to local business and life.  

“Especially when we get snow on the ground, we get more snowmobilers that want to stay and the trails just right up the road from here,” said Tim Wagner, owner of Hi Banks Resort.  

Winter’s been great for Wagner. Fish Lake froze over in December, and they’re already getting some ice houses and small to half-ton vehicles driving on the surface.  

“Ice has been really good this year we have a good solid 12 out there’s 13 on the road under the snow we’re still getting somewhere between 8 and 12 in under the snow,” he said.  

While some permanent ice houses and castles have popped up, Wagner says you can’t make much of a path for yourself without a plow for your half-ton truck or at least a snowblower. 

“With the snow, it insulates the ice and it’s going to take a while to get down there I need 16 in to put my truck out there and get roads established,” said the resort owner.  

Still, the fish aren’t waiting. “Right now, they’re getting a few crappies some bluegills northern tip-ups a few walleyes, walleyes slowed down that’s always good on first ice and now they’ve slowed down also,” Wagner said.  

And some young anglers have been successful on the ice so far. “Got a northern and two crappies,” said Miles Schaeffer, fishing with his friend Nash Elleson.  

The two were excited just to spend their winter break with nothing to worry about but their lines and the great outdoors.  

“Started fishing it last year but only a couple times this year more than last year,” Schaeffer said. “Just getting out and having fun — and getting away from school and stuff.” 

When the fish start biting, anglers like the two boys also take a bite out of the Fredenberg Minno-ette Convenience Store.  

“Right in the morning on the weekends and even during the day it picks up tremendously selling bait left and right,” said Collin Halburt, the store clerk.  

With their new liquor store installed, they’ve become a prime spot for anglers to get their bait and beer and head out.  

‘What’s perfect about here is that we’re right in the middle of island lake and fish lake so a lot of people that live around here come here and it’s all about convenience,” Halburt said. 

According to the store clerk, ice fishing can be hit or miss sometimes, unless you know where the fish are going to be.  

“It’s been a morning bite and then a late bite around 4:30 to like 6:30 there’s like a 2-hour window where you just pop a hole walk and then just wait to find them,” he said.  

But for fishing fanatics who embrace the cold and snow, sitting and waiting is just fine.  

“Just come out and have fun winter’s here,” Hi Banks owner Wagner said.  

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