By Bailey Hovland
The land of 10,000 lakes is in hibernation, with snow forming drifts across the country roads and icicles forming on the eaves of houses. And although there’s plenty to do inside, whether you’re planning on staying in and cooking up a delicious pot of chili or listening to some great music at O’Neil’s, the outdoors offers a certain allure that isn’t available in your kitchen or at a restaurant. Sure, the open air requires a sturdy winter coat, thick pair of mittens, and possibly a warm knit hat, but it also provides the opportunity to step out onto the great unknown: the winter ice.
Ice houses cover Willmar Lake, spanning across all 435 acres.
Stretched across every lake in the Willmar Lakes Area is a thick layer of ice, separating us from the underwater world. Drive by any local body of water large enough to have a name and you’ll see icehouses dotting the frozen terrain. From hulking Glacier ice fishing trailers to portable Ice Trek houses, the ice has plenty of space for each and every fisherman and woman to catch their share of freshwater fish.
Forgoing the shelter of an ice house, this bright fisherman waits patiently for his midday catch.
Try your luck over on Green Lake in Spicer, with four different public access points to haul your fish house of choice onto the ice. With over 5,406 acres to find the perfect fishing spot, you can take a shot at reeling in some rock bass. And if you run out of bait or are in need of more fishing line, you can stop by Mel’s Sport Shop near the access by Saulsbury Beach. Plus, they have hot coffee and snacks if you need to refuel before you get back out on the ice.
Or you can bring your fishing rod over to Big Kandiyohi Lake just outside the town of Lake Lillian. Although the lake provides sandy beaches and decent shoreline fishing in the summertime, during the winter months you can still expect to feel a few tugs from some walleye and sunfish.
All it takes is one lure, one rod, and one fish to make any fishing trip a success.
Norway Lake, located right by Sunburg, offers the perfect place to hunt down the perfect crappies. With three basins to choose from, you’re sure to find some space to settle in for an afternoon of fishing with friends. Lake Andrew, home to one of the area’s two popular bible camps, will give you a chance to hook a northern pike. And if you’d like to make your fishing trip into a weekend getaway, you could rent one of the camper cabins out at Sibley State Park, bordering the north and northwest shoreline of Lake Andrew.
With over 300 lakes in the Willmar Lakes Area to choose from, picking one lake for your fishing escapades might be your hardest decision. Luckily you don’t have to settle for just one—try them all! That way you’ll be able to find your own favorites depending on which lakes have the best luck. So once you’ve chosen your frozen destination for the day, pack your fishing gear into the car and get on your way. The lakes are waiting, and hopefully the fish are too.