There is a lot more snow and ice at the popular ice fishing destination Lac des Mille Lacs, where exactly one year ago anglers were sitting in boats.

However one outfitter is cautioning people to get their ice shacks off the lake now to avoid losing them, as was the case after last year’s early retreat of lake ice.


Ice shacks were still standing firm on Lac des Milles Lacs in mid-March of last year. But a few days later, anglers were scrambling to get them off the lake. (

Gary McCourt noted heavy snow has caused a slushy mess on the big lake, located about 160 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.

"Some places [slush is] up to your knees," he said.

"And we’re busting through a crust of yellow ice of 8 to 10 inches. We're trying to make roads and getting into major bad slush, so get the hell out of there. I broke through twice this winter — all four wheels."

McCourt added a big snowstorm and heavy winds a week ago wreaked havoc on the lake and flooded most of the ice road with a mix of snow and slush.

He said only a couple of kilometres of the ice road are now passable.

To get the huts off the lake, he said track machines are pulling the huts through the worst spots, then trucks or ATVs's pull them down the remaining ice road. 

"If snow machines get off the road, they go down in the slush like you wouldn't believe," he said.

McCourt, whose property is often used as an access point to Lac des Milles Lacs, said all the fishing huts were off the lake last year by March 19.

"It's not as bad as last year. But last year was an emergency," he said.

"Conditions are bad so get 'em off before it gets worse. Once it starts melting, more and more and blow holes open up and cracks open up. Maybe the ice will lift, maybe it won't.  Mother nature is the boss."