Thanks Cliff! I've been very closely monitoring Pike Bay the last few weeks I'm not far from you as the crow flies right on the bay. Still sitting at 4-5 inches of ALL refroze slush. No good ice. It's flooding over pretty good with 1-3 inches water with the couple inches snow still on top. Hopefully the cold penetrates that snow and gets things going so I can run the sled right up the bay to McKinley by next weekend.
The ice on the small pond on the west side of the road heading into SJU was able to hold my weight (which is substantial, alas). I didn't have a chisel, and I wasn't about to go any further out. Still, very good sign. I'm sure there'll be guys out by the end of the weekend, if not sooner.
I think the fishing will be outstanding this winter. They were certainly going crazy in early December. I honestly don't care about keeping any fish, though it is nice to have the option of bringing one home. I don't understand why guys drive four or five hours to catch dozens of dinks on Red Lake--especially last year when you could only keep two or three--when Mille Lacs was *insane* last year with both numbers and size. Oh well. It obviously sucks for the businesses, but I won't complain about having the best flats all to myself.
We were up on the northwest side out of Myr Mar. The harbor didn't even freeze up. We did nothing special...trolled slowly using big baits, on shoreline breaks, over remaining weeds, and over rocks. It was just like the old days, only back then we thought we were tough when we fished in early November.