May 3, 2015: That’s It!

Tom Hutton is not only one of my professional pilot colleagues at Walsten Air, he’s also a member of the Kenora Flying Club. Today he took me out for an hour in the club’s Cessna 172, and we could not find any significant ice.

If you hurry to Heenan Point, you might be able to pick up enough to fill a picnic cooler, but it was going fast, and by this evening there won’t be enough left to make a decent martini.


Quarry Island, Sultana Island, Pine Portage Bay and Heenan Point

If you click on this picture to see it full size, you can make out a tiny patch of ice clinging to the tip of Heenan Point. By the time you read this, it will probably be gone.

We flew as far south as Sioux Narrows.


Sioux Narrows

No ice.

We flew as far west as Allie Island and had a look at the area south of the Barrier Islands where Andrew found ice yesterday.


Ferrier Island, looking north at the Barrier Islands

Those patches in front of the wing strut are just ripples on the otherwise glassy water. No ice.

We checked around Scotty and Middle Islands, where a few pans were floating yesterday.


Bald Island and Queer Island in the middle distance. Scotty Island, Middle Island the Hades and Hay Island further back.

No ice.

I’m calling it. Lake of the Woods is ice-free as of May 3rd, 2015.

It looked as if there was still ice on Shoal Lake, but by the time the daily satellite picture was taken, none was visible. If Matthew or anyone sends me another photo before it is gone, I will insert it here.

Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol will now go dormant until next spring.

Thanks to everyone who helped by visiting, commenting or sharing with friends. We ran the hit counter up from 70,000 to 130,000 this spring, and peaked at over 2700 hits on a single day (April 28th). Anxiety last year about ice persisting into fishing season and even the May long weekend drove hits to 3700 one day, but I knew we’d never match that during a normal spring like this one.

Special thanks to all the pilots who donated their time and flying expenses to help me provide better coverage. In approximate order of first appearance: Andrew Kozlowski, Matthew Render, Al Nelson, Rob Reboks, Dave Thiele (and his daughter Alice and son Eric on camera duty) and Lindsay Kitson.

Much of what you see here was made possible by the other folks at Walsten Air: the bosses who allowed me leeway in my flight path, the dispatcher who assigned me flights returning to Kenora without passengers, the maintenance department that alerted me to non-revenue flights, and our pilots. I think every single one of our pilots chipped in this year by flying while I took pictures or taking pictures for me on days when I could not. We have a great crew.

As a former float-plane pilot, I’d like to sign off with a safety reminder. Kenora has a busy water aerodrome on Safety Bay. During take-off and landing, aircraft have the right of way over boats. Please watch out for them and try to keep clear during these critical phases of flight. After the plane has landed and dropped “off the step” to taxi slowly, the plane has the same rights as any other boat. However, they have no brakes and do not steer all that well. It would be nice (and safest) if you would treat them like sailboats and keep a wide berth. Thanks.

I’ve been neglecting my other hobby for two months while I did this blog. If you want to see how my efforts as a science fiction author are panning out, you are welcome to visit Timothy Gwyn* Writes, (*my pen name) a blog where I comment on books I have read, conventions I am going to, and the occasional publishing success. Otherwise, I’ll be back here around the middle of March 2016.

Have a great summer on Lake of the Woods!

Tim Armstrong

20 thoughts on “May 3, 2015: That’s It!

  1. I just want to thank you for your effort. I stumbled upon this while surfing for info on ice pack in the kenora minaki area. I hope you continue this for the next year. Once agian thank you.

  2. Thanks again for a great season of ice watch…and for ridding Lake of the Woods of winter so early! 😉 Coney Kath

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Many thanks for these dispatches. Really enjoy them and use them to plan my annual kayak from the mainland to be first on the Island. My record range is as early as April 14 and late as May 15 ( last year).


    Hubert Mesman Holstrom’s Marsh Thompson Island

  4. Fantastic pictures! Its too bad we now have open water, well not that bad. Can’t wait till next spring.
    Keep up the great work.

  5. Thank you very much for all the great info. We eagerly look for your posts when we are waiting for the spring thaw.

  6. I have thoroughly enjoyed following your effort to keep us all informed about our “ICE”. This was my first year following your blog and I’ll be back next year.
    Oh, just one last thing, where did all the water go? We have three floating dock systems and we can’t get one into place because of the low water. Mother Nature is teasing us again!


    David Garriock, Pine Portage Bay

  7. Great work, Ice Patrol! We follow the blog daily until you “call it”. Good to know the ice is out and we can get to work on our dock!

  8. Thank you Soooo much Tim. I have loved every post! My Kilpatrick/Waithman family summer home is Anchor Island, facing Scotty’s Beach, so it is always great to be able to follow what’s happening on the Lake. I live in the east now so don’t get out every summer but my heart is there on Lake of the Woods. Enjoy your summer! Dorie Howard

  9. Dear Tim,

    To you and all of your contributing colleagues my sincere thanks for keeping us lake lovers abreast of the unfolding ice breakup on Lake of the Woods. It is such an exciting time, a new season for life on the lake. And may I say, you provided great entertainment while we were awaiting the bugle call which would proclaim, “Ice free.”

    Thanks again, and many blessings on all your undertakings,

    Christa Duclos

  10. Thank you for all your efforts again this spring. Much appreciated.

    Sent from my iPhone


  11. Thank you very much Ice Patrol.
    We appreciate the pictures and information posted. We are looking forward to going to the cottage this weekend. 🙂
    Have a great summer everyone 🙂

  12. Thank u so much for all your amazing pics and updates for Spring 2015! Always enjoyed and very much appreciated! Have a great summer!

  13. Thanks to all for the great information. It’s hard for us back in Woodstock,IL to gauge when the ice goes out, but you guys sure make it simple.

    Best regards,

    Larry Larson

    Wheeling Service & Supply, Inc.

    815/338-6410 P

    815/338-4738 F

  14. Thank you again Tim for the fantastic coverage.

    Kemosabe is still on shore but waxed and ready for the water as soon as the last part for the generator arrives at Northern. Hope to be launched this week and move the boat over to changes of Latitude next weekend.

    We hope you and Caroline have an awesome summer, take care.
    Douglas Biggar
    V.P. Operations
    Ph: 204-975-3420
    Fax: 204-632-9392

    Moore Industrial Ltd.
    169 Omand’s Creek Blvd Winnipeg | MB | R2R 1V9 | Canada
    Winnipeg . Edmonton . Regina . Calgary . Saskatoon

  15. Thanks, Tim. We got out to Zig Zag on Sunday only because you let us know it was accessible.

    You provide an excellent service.

    Enjoy the soft water.

  16. Thanks for all of your updates, seeing the progress every day helped ease the wait. We took a chance Saturday am and were able to boat around some ice to safely get to Andrew Bay hardly a boat on the lake so we felt like we got an extra weekend out of the season. So great to get back to the lake and Kenora.

    Fly safely………Barb and Barry

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