Detroit Lake has one of the longest ice out records of any lake in Minnesota. This spring will be the 117th year that such data has been kept. In the previous 116 years, the latest date the ice went out on Detroit Lake was May 17, 1950. Most lakes in Minnesota that have ice out records going back to at least 1950, also have that year as the record. Most lakes with data beginning after 1950 have 1996 as the year of record.
Many of you may remember that the local lakes in Becker and Otter Tail County had the ice go out just days before the fishing opener that year, but many lakes in far northern Minnesota, including Lake of the Woods still were ice covered for the May 1996 fishing opener. Therefore, a high percentage of lakes in Minnesota have ice out records that were recorded in either 1950 or 1996.
Previous to 1950, although very few records exist, 1856 was perhaps a year when the ice did not melt off some lakes in northern Minnesota until nearly Memorial Day.