BEST ICE-FISHING HOLE (1999)
As in summer, Lake Minnetonka is by the far the best nearby locale to catch pan and/or larger fish. Prime time to hit the ice is between 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning, when the fish bite best and the dark bays loom like vast lunar landscapes. Sorel boots, five layers of wool, and a flask of blackberry brandy are a necessity for warmth and fellowship; to figure out where the fish are actually biting, cruise around the lake looking for the gaggles of grizzled old men who've ventured out of their shacks and are sitting atop overturned buckets, though the veterans won't tell you a thing. The best nearby day trip for ice fishing, meantime, can be found at Forest Lake, about 30 miles northeast of Minneapolis.