May 7, 2020: Bigstone Bay

I’m going to start with two pictures that are a couple of days old, and then show how things are changing. Bigstone Bay is one of the last places on Lake of the Woods to have ice. I’m not sure why, but this is true year after year. Perhaps there’s not much current.

You can click on the pictures to see them full-screen. That version can be zoomed.

Except the satellite image. Kenora’s Round Lake is about the smallest thing the MODIS cameras can show you, and trying to zoom in will just make it worse.

The first two pictures are from Al Smith, operator of Smith Camps on Thunder Bay.

Looking west from Heenan Point.  Sultana Island on the right, Scotty Island on left.

Still a good extent of ice in this picture from sunset on Tuesday evening.

Looking east from Smith Camps on Thunder Bay towards Eagle Pass.

Eagle pass is the water route around the east end of Hay Island. Al says it looks to be ice free from Route Bay through to Moore Bay.

Now some drone photographs from today, with thanks to Michael Tomashowski.

This picture facing West shows Bigstone Bay with Heenan Point poking out into the ice.

Looking north east at Longbow Lake.

The west end of Longbow looks open, but zoom in to get a better look at the ice in the more distant east half of the lake.

Michael has operated a DJI Mavic Pro since 2017. Thanks, Michael.

NASA’s Terra Satellite got a clear view of Lake of the Woods today. Here’s the false-colour image.

The ice on Shoal Lake is still visible from space.

The bright blue patch at the left is ice on Shoal Lake; it’s shrinking day by day. Less easy to spot is the ice on Bigstone. Near the north end of Lake of the Woods, look for a sizeable island shaped like a battered battle-axe, chopping downward: that’s Hay Island. Just north of it, a dim patch of blue is the thin ice remaining on Bigstone. Longbow Lake is just north of that, but the ice there is not visible to the satellite’s camera. Too thin and waterlogged, I expect. If there’s any ice remaining south of the Barrier Islands, I can’t see it.


Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol has seen a sharp reduction in web visitors this spring, to about half of recent years. Fair enough. Many visitors won’t be able to come in the early part of spring. Also, my being laid off from my flying job for three months (because of the pandemic) has meant that there have been far fewer aerial photographs this year, and that some areas have had much less coverage. Sorry about that.

But there have been pluses: I’ve had a lot more guest contributors this year. Many have taken the time to email me photographs to share with you. Some have made multiple flights in their small planes, and for the first time, I’ve been able to feature drone photography.

Despite the problems, it’s been gratifying to be able to do this blog while grounded. I never dreamed I’d get this much help. Thank you all.


10 thoughts on “May 7, 2020: Bigstone Bay

  1. Thank you for continuing to keep us updated! I love this time of season waiting for the ice to come off. Your email updates definitely are appreciated! Keep up the great work and thanks to all of the contributors!

  2. Thanks for all the great updates from you and fellow contributors, I’ve enjoyed your blog this year with the updates. Hope to be able to return soon!

  3. Hello …looks like I was wrong..I said ice gone by the tenth…now I’m eating my words….lovelly pics from smith camps…soon I hope to have my boat going ..cant wait and thank you so much to every one ..

    • I think your estimate that the ice would be gone by May 10th was very close. That little patch of ice on Bigstone probably won’t last two days. Even with cold temperatures, the wind will probably break it up.

  4. The ice has been out of Longbow Lake for a week now. We put our boat in at the MNR landing on Monday the 4th. I’ve got it marked down in my book as going out on Apr 30th. The previous 2 years the ice had gone out on May 3rd, so Longbow as a little earlier going out this year.

  5. I noticed your note at the bottom about lower activity. I wanted you to know that I still appreciate the site and your dedication to it.

    I sure hope things clear up and I can fish Canadian waters again soon. I am very concerned the resorts and other businesses that rely on us US fisherman are going to have a very difficult time. Some of those folks are like family.

    Stay safe,

    Kevin Klotzbach
    Frontline Sales and Marketing
    Mendota Heights, MN

  6. Hi I think you have done a Great Job this year. Now if you can get us Manitobans to the area we would be thankful.

    Rick Brown

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s