Originally Published by the Winnipeg Free Press, December 5, 2016

By: Kristin Annable

The warmest November on record for the majority of Manitoba has kept Lake Winnipeg fishers off the lake in December for the first time in at least 55 years.

Ivan Grimolfson has spent 50 years as a fisher on the lake, focused in the Hecla area, and told the Free Press never in his career has the lake not frozen over by December.

“We’re usually on the water by the middle of November and I have never seen it (the lake) open like this on Dec. 1,” Grimolfson told the Free Press last week.

“Everything is changing.”

The fishing season ends at the beginning of November and under provincial law, fish cannot be caught unless they come from the under the ice. Grimolfson said he is hopeful the coming cold snap will freeze the lake soon, giving fishers a chance to make up the time lost.

In Winnipeg, November’s average temperature was 3.2 C. Normal average temperatures for November range from -8.5 C to -1.3 C. Before this year, the last time November was nearly this warm was in 1899 when the average temperature was 1.3 C. In and around the Gimli area, the average temperature was 2.9 C — giving fishers no choice but to dock their boats until the water freezes over.

University of Winnipeg biologist Eva Pipp has been studying Lake Winnipeg since 1961 and said she has never seen the lake remain unfrozen this late in the year. She fears this will become the new norm in Manitoba.

“Normally we would have already seen it freeze in mid-November,” she said. “There were some years that it would be even earlier than that… this is generally what we are seeing with climate change, this is probably going to be a trend.”

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Photo courtesy of Travel Manitoba