The area lakes are finally icing up?  

El Nino gave us a very warm fall and most people are just getting started on ice fishing.  As we head into 2024 it looks like this will be a much warmer winter than what we typically experience in North Dakota.

If you find yourself wishing you could be in a boat this winter over an ice house, you're in luck.

Did you know there's actually a lake in North Dakota where a good portion of it stays open year-round?  That's right, even in January.

Introducing Nelson Lake near Center, North Dakota.

This is a lake I've been going to for many, many years.  Not only is it a very popular place to go bass fishing (the state record Largemouth Bass was caught there in the 80s') but a very popular recreation area.  Waterskiing, jetskiing, camping, and a popular fishing destination.  Yep, even in January.

Find a nice January afternoon and not only will you see people fishing where the Minnkota Power Plant discharges warm water into the lake, but you might even see a few "die-hards" like me in a boat.

Rick Rider
Rick Rider

Nelsen Lake's water is used to cool the Minnkota Power Plant. This is a really unique body of water.  You certainly won't find another lake like this in North Dakota and very few like Nelson in the upper Midwest. 

Water temperatures vary greatly depending on where you are on the lake but in the winter months, it could range from 45 to 60 degrees.  The water temps in the summer get much warmer, where you could see temperatures in the 80s or higher. 

I've heard stories of people waterskiing on Nelson Lake in January.  

As warm of a winter we've had so far this year, this might be another year where you could see waterskiers in January.  As crazy as that sounds.

Besides Largemouth Bass fishing, Nelson Lake is also a very good lake to catch Crappies and Bluegills.  If you're tired of using little rods and ice fishing, here's a very unique opportunity to fish an open body of water in North Dakota.  There's even a fishing pier near the warm water discharge.

Rick Rider
Rick Rider

Nelson Lake is about 30 minutes from Mandan right off Highway 25. According to, the lake is 573 acres and the deepest point of the lake is about 35 feet deep. 

I know the first warm January weekend of 2024 you'll find my son and I working on our cabin fever and having some fun on the open water.  Even in January.  I can't wait.  By the way, that state record Largemouth Bass record is due to fall.  It's been around way too long.  I'm just sayin'.

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