“Surface water temperatures on Cutfoot Sioux Lake are warm, ranging from 77 to 81 degrees, depending on the breeze. Algae blooms, triggered by weeks of warm, sunny weather are helping to darken the clear water and lush vegetation provides shade for fish in the shallows. When you combine these ingredients, along with shoreline trolling patterns, you can count on an action bite that leads to a mixed catch of walleye, crappie, sunfish, perch, and northern pike.
Die hard” anglers can still catch fish under the warm sunshine, but most folks can get all the action they need by making short morning and evening fishing excursions. For many, midday is a time better spent on the beach, or playing on the lake with family and friends.
The grass lines in Cutfoot are green and they are thick, mostly growing out to depths of 8 to 10 feet of water. Some vegetation, depending on which type, may grow a little deeper than that, coontail for example, can be found in water depths of 16 to 20 feet. Those deeper patches of coontail should be explored for crappies, while the shallower stands of grass will hold more variety. For walleye, sunfish and pike, cabbage patches should ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report July 19, 2021
That said, conditions dictate, and a few basic settings tweaks will help you produce the best readout for the situation. Jeff "Kolo" Kolodzinski shares his top 6 tips for getting the best fish finder readout for the conditions.
Mount your transducer correctly. Install transducers in a location that ..." View Video and Learn More >> Top 6 Tips for Getting the Best Fish Finder Sonar Readouts
With the arrival of clear water caused by Zebra Mussels, fish, especially walleyes have become more “boat shy” than they used to be. They can still be caught, but sometimes driving the boat over them will force them to move before an anglers lure can get in front of them. Positioning your boat within casting distance, but not directly overhead will allow you to present a lure to the fish before they are alerted to your presence and therefore less prone to strike.
Locating structure is the key, cabbage patches, rock piles and sharp, well-defined points make good targets. Remember, you want your lure to ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report July 8, 2021
Like us after eating a huge meal, walleyes that gorged on mayfly larvae act like they don’t need to go anywhere or do anything. It’s not unusual to have 1 big mayfly hatch, but this year there have been 2 of them and they were both big ones. Because they are so full, they show little interest in moving much, they have sat tight all week long. and
In one sense that is good, we have been able to predict that whenever we find walleyes, they will stay there for a while. Another benefit is that all those larvae help fuel the fish’ growth rates, Winnie walleyes, with an already fast growth rate, are plumping up fast and it is getting easier to find 14-to-15-inch fish every day. Chad has been on the water several times recently and says, “keeper fish”, are primarily what we’ve been catching lately.
Some of our guests are reporting more large fish showing up though. In fact, one group reported catching mostly fish in the protected slot on a recent trip. Once fish grow past the 23 inch, high end of that protection, anglers are allowed to harvest and possess 1 of them and we can see that many are doing so. We have seen an increase in the number of fish over 23 inches in the gut pails at our fish cleaning house recently.
Many of our guests have personal preferences about where and how they like to fish. Because fish sizes vary from spot-to-spot around the lake, it explains why some folks land on top of big fish, while others land on loads of “eaters”. Larger fish appear to mostly be coming from the lake’s larger deep-water bars, some of the mid-lake humps have begun producing fish too. Folk’s fishing “the humps” note that the smaller ones located closest to shore are producing better than the ones further out toward the center of the lake.
Most walleyes are shallower than they were earlier this summer. Key water depths for active fish on deep mid-lake structure runs from about 14 to 22 feet. On the flats, walleyes are holding steady at 15 feet deep. In fact, Chad noted that when he moves off of the 15-foot mark, finding walleyes has been difficult. Whenever he moves back onto the 15 foot break, there they are again; “they act like they just don’t want to move” Chad said.
Since the weather has been calm, moving around on the big lake has been easy and if that’s what you like to do, that’s great. But many of our guests have found no reason to leave Tamarack Bay. Some of them like the variety of fishing the weed beds and they catch mixed bags of pike, perch, walleye and rock bass. Walleye purists move away from the weeds and focus on the edges of the flats, again, 15 feet is the magic depth.
Surface temperatures are holding at about 73 degrees and rising. Algae blooms are on the rise too and with more warm weather predicted, will probably continue to intensify. These factors, combined with the fish’s natural tendency toward higher mid-summer metabolism rates mean that trolling is working better that slower, finesse type presentations. Chad has been catching his fish trolling spinners, some folks have begun using crankbaits too, particularly on the lakes larger, mid-depth flats.
Also notable, walleyes show changing preferences about live bait used to tip the spinners. Last week, walleyes showed a strong preference toward night crawlers and leeches. Just the other day, Chad reported that without minnows, he could not trigger a strike. Don’t load up too much on any one bait, carry a little bit of everything and experiment. Switching live bait types could make a huge difference on any given day.
Rolling into the Independence Day, holiday weekend, we have a full house, but we don’t expect everyone to be focused strictly on fishing, 4th of July is a big time for family get togethers. Still, there will be plenty of folks fishing too and we will learn enough about fish patterns and presentations to make the next report interesting, so stay in touch.
Reservations for the summer have been strong and for the most part, cabins are filled. There are a handful of random openings though, so don’t overlook us if you’re thinking about planning a fishing trip to Winnie, we still may be able to help. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
"The walleye fishing took a small hit this week. The cold front early in the week affected the bite and the mayfly hatch that followed did, as well. Fish were still being caught if you were persistent.
Using your electronics to locate the fish and having an arsenal of baits to entice them would eventually pay off. Most of the fish were coming from the deeper structure. Look for holes on top of flats or normal drop-offs focusing on turns in the structure.
Perch fishing was very good this week. Most of the fish were caught in the backwater areas in new weed growth. Some perch were caught on the main lake in deeper water using jigs and minnows.
Northerns have been very steady. Trolling, casting, or fishing for perch and walleyes on jigs and minnows have all worked for pike. I even heard a good report of a good northern bite up river. Will be a good thing to have in your back pocket on a windy day.
We are entering our vacation time where fishing sort of takes a back seat to family fun. But there are still great fishing opportunities in the coming weeks. The walleyes should get back on track after the mayflies are done. Perch are biting, and of course it is a couple weeks away from prime time for pike.
We have very few openings the next month, but if you have a family or small group we may have space for you. Make your fall plans now as September dates are filling up fast. It should be a great fall bite on Lake Winnie." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"Most everyone agrees that the recent spell of hot weather was too hot for human comfort! But we do have to admit that the stability it provided was great for both Winnie and Cutfoot, not only in terms of fishing success, but also as it relates to fish growth over the long term.
In terms of fishing, massive hatches of Mayflies occurred as the water warmed and walleyes responded by moving toward expansive, semi-soft bottom flats. It’s not uncommon to hear about folks catching walleye in what appears to be “structureless” territory. Random schools of fish, some large and some small, roam the flats gobbling up Mayfly larvae before they can reach the lakes surface and emerge as adults.
On Winnie, the water depth in many of these areas runs from about 14 to 18 feet deep. But similar soft-bottom flats can be found both deeper and shallower, so be creative in your search. Finding fish and catching them during bug hatches on the flats is easier than many believe, but presentation methods do depart from typical early season walleye presentations. The best way to find walleyes on Winnie is to ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report June 23, 2021
Fish love stability and the weather in the Deer River region has been as stable as it gets! With surface temperatures holding steady in the mid-70s, we have seen fish of all species get active. Last week our guests were catching everything from rock bass to walleyes.
Two trends for walleye anglers to watch have been walleyes moving shallower and changing their feeding preferences.
Many of the well-known, early season hot spots were located on steep breaklines in 28 to 32 feet of water. But insect hatches are in full swing now and the larvae, soon to emerge as adults are attracting fish. Most of those deep-water fish have moved away from the steep breaks in favor of slow tapering, shoreline related flats and bars adjacent to soft-bottom, mud flats. Reports of catching walleyes in water depths of 16 to 22 feet on the lakes “main bars”.
The Bena Bar typically provides action during mid-June and this season, it has not disappointed, but there are walleyes located closer to the resort as well. Some are still reporting good walleye catches right here in Tamarack Bay, the river break nears 3 sisters, the deep weeds near Plughat Point and the outside breakline out front of the satellite dishes have productive at times. The slow tapering breaklines to the west of Tamarack Point, leading down the shoreline in front of Highbanks hold fish now too and they move north and south, depending on the wind direction.
Feeding preferences have changed too, night crawlers and leeches have overtaken minnows at the bait of choice for walleyes. But there is an exception, folks fishing the rock and gravel bars who are still using jigs and minnows report good catches of both walleye and pike. Using minnows in the deeper water, 22 to 26 feet, will produce some nice perch too. So, it would be a good idea to carry a handful of large fatheads, just in case. Don’t overstock on shiners, if you can even get them, they will be very difficult to keep alive because of the warm water.
On the bars, plain Lindy Rigs with lively, healthy leeches and night crawlers will produce good results. Leader length is a matter of personal preference, but for convenience, snells trimmed to about 6 feet are adequate and easier to manage. Some experienced anglers like them longer than that and only trim their snells to about 8 feet, some even leave them at 10 feet long, the full stock, factory length. No matter how long the leader you use, small, #4 or #6 hook sizes are preferred, they help keep your live bait floating higher in the water column, that will help keep your offering in front of high riding, active walleye.
When using night crawlers, inject a little air bubble with a worm blower, that will help keep them off the bottom. When using leeches, add a float to the snell, just above the hook. Black floats are always a good choice in clear water, but on dark days, you may prefer something brighter to make your rig more attention grabbing.
Some of the more advanced anglers who are good with electronics have been catching fish by “power-corking”. They have slip floats set at 16 to 20 feet, depending on the water depths they are fishing. Below the floats, a #4 split shot sinker, along with a 1/16 ounce live bait jig holds a lively leech or ½ night crawler in position. Cruising slowly, they simultaneously spot a fish, drop their baits and kick the engine into neutral. Allow a few minutes for the fish to spot and grab your bait, then continue the cruise-drop-catch presentation.
Perch fishing has improved recently, and the deep 24–28-foot water depths seem to be the most popular right now. But weeds are attractive for perch too and so are rocks, so keep an eye on the deep weed patches found close to the resort in Tamarack Bay. Rock spots, located on the north side flats have produce intermittent catches of nice perch as well.
Pike, for most folks come along as a by-product of walleye and perch fishing. But if you want to target them specifically, casting spinnerbaits at the deep cabbage patches is a good approach right now. Trolling spinners tipped with minnows is not a bad choice either. Live bait rigging along the steeper portions of main lake bars is a good way to single out larger specimens, so if you’re devoted to big pike, start your search out there.
Some folks have targeted bass and panfish right her in the dam bay. Working the outer edges of bulrush patches and pockets in the deeper weeds have provided good entertainment. Rock Bass don’t get their fair share of respect, but some folks love them, and they are both aggressive and plentiful, many within sight of the resort. Entertain your kids by casting 1/8-ounce beetle spins near the bulrushes and shallow weed patches. Hold on tight, they fight like crazy, you’ll think you’re hooked into a pike or bass whenever they get ahold of your bait.
It’s been a busy early season for us, but as we move toward mid-summer, there are still a handful of cabin openings available. Walleye populations are excellent in Winnie right now and with a super-fast growth rate, mid-summer fishing may be even more rewarding for folks that the early bite was this year. If you’ve been thinking about checking out Winnibigoshish, now is definitely the time to do it, give us a call! — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
"Avid bank and boat anglers alike have long known that dam tailraces are excellent fishing spots. Wired2fish staffers McKeon "Keys" Roberts and Kyle Peterson take us on an intriguing underwater tour of a dam spillway (tailrace area), showing why angler efforts are well-spent. The camera reveals a wide variety of life ranging from popular gamefish and rough fish species, baitfish, aquatic invertebrates, and even reptiles looking to get in on the action.
If you like fishing or are interested in getting into it, chances are you're not too far from a dam that offers quality fishing opportunities. So why are these excellent places to fish? Aside from the obvious obstruction that stops or limits upstream fish migration (thus concentrating fish), the waters in tailraces are often cool, well-oxygenated, and loaded with ..." View Video and Learn More >> Why Dam Spillways are Excellent Fishing Spots | Underwater Tour
Walleyes, the most popular fish for Bowen Lodge guests have moved into 3 key areas. Shoreline related bars that extend out into the lakes deep water basin, sprawling mid-depth flats and shallow water structure like weed beds. In the past week alone, we have heard reports of walleyes being caught in depths ranging from 6 to 26 feet, depending on the type of structures where walleyes have been located.
On the bars, active walleyes ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report June 14, 2021
"Walleye fishing has dominated the fishing scene at the resort this past week. Guests have found fish along the shoreline breaklines in 20 to 30 feet of water. Jigs and minnows, Lindy Rigs with leeches and worms have been the most productive presentation. Fishing with the jigs and minnows increases the chances of catching both northern pike and perch.
Northern fishing has picked up on artificial baits. You can troll, cast, or fish jigs and minnows. Look for the breaklines or fish the backwater areas that have new weed growth.
Perch have been biting on fathead minnows. Look for transition areas between hard and soft bottom locations. They are feeding on either bug larvae or crayfish.
Fishing has been very reliable this whole month. We have some openings for the next few weeks. If you want to make a trip to Winnie to get in on the action, give us a call." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Anglers are finding fish in relatively shallow water compared to areas where they were being targeted earlier this season. Either fish have become happier in shallower water recently, or else anglers are just now finding fish that were overlooked earlier because the deep-water bite was getting all the attention.
There are a few theories, but it could be in part, that water clarity is beginning to decline. Water conditions are still clearer than they were in 2020, but as water temperatures have risen into the mid-70s, algae blooms have developed and that has added some color to the water in Winnibigoshish.
Another theory is that some of these fish have moved onto the lake’s expansive flats, feeding on minnows as they retreat from the shorelines. It seems that now, every weed bed, every rock pile and every dip on the sand flats have large schools of shiners milling around on them. As long as those minnows hold in place, walleye and pike are staying in the neighborhood.
If you watch your graph while scanning the flats in water depths of 12 to 16 feet, you will encounter small schools of fish. The species depends on the structure and food source. Here Tamarack Bay, guests are discovering anything from rock bass to muskies and included in the mix are both walleyes and perch. There are still a lot smaller, 2018- and 2019-year class fish. But anglers fishing in the bay are catching a wider range of sizes than the folks who are fishing the deep water. Not only are there more “keepers”, but there are quite a few larger fish in the 19-to-25-inch range as well.
Trolling spinners is probably the best formula for high level action because northern pike have been devouring the fast-moving baits. Better ways to zero in perch and walleye include jig and minnow, jig and night crawler and live bait rigs with leeches. Slip floats are becoming more popular on the lake too and a 1/16-ounce live bait jig tipped with a leech is awesome for finicky fish on calm days.
Venturing out of Tamarack Bay, folks are finding fish on the flats in water depths ranging between 10 and 16 feet deep. Areas containing gravel, small rock and emerging weeds are key, some of the soft tapering breaks into the 18-to-24-foot range are also holding fish. Many of the lakes large bars are filling up with fish too, The Bena Bar was good this week, Sugar Bar, Center Bar, and Horseshoe Bars were producing fish as well.
On mid lake structure, fish are still responding to jig and minnow combinations. But Lindy Rigs tipped with leeches and night crawlers are effective too. Key depths on the bars have ranged from 16 to 26 feet, with 22 feet being the sweet spot. You’ll hear a lot about fish in deeper water, but it seems that the shallower fish are both larger in size and more aggressive in striking. It makes a lot of sense to avoid the super deep areas and focus on fish riding higher on those structures.
Crappie activity in the shallows peaked about a week ago, so the focal point for finding them has been cabbage weeds. Any good patch of it has potential as a fishing spot. The fish stage early morning and late evening feeding runs, so working the cabbage patches should be either the first, or the last stop on your list each day.
Position your boat within casting distance of the cabbage, cast small jigs tipped with artificial tails into gaps and pockets. Retrieve using a slow and steady “swim-drop-swim-drop” motion, crappies will often hit as the lure is dropping. Beetle Spins, twirl tails, shad style swim baits will all work. Even small size spinnerbaits, like those that bass fishermen use, will catch crappies during the cabbage patch pattern. While you’re casting into the cabbage, you will also have random encounters wit bass, sunfish, rock bass and pike, lots of pike.
Targeting northern pike would be an excellent idea right now because they have been super aggressive. They are hitting jig and minnow combos while folks’ fish for walleye. Trolling spinners, casting spoons, and fishing live suckers under a slip-float will all produce pike right now. Weeds are always good, but do not overlook rocks, pike love them and will often be found there.
For guests checking in this Saturday, we see a slightly cooler, but still warm week on the horizon. Fish should be on the move and biting as fish settle into their summer patterns. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
"The walleye fishing has been very good despite the hot calm conditions. The fish are starting to migrate toward the summer haunts, with most of the fish being caught deeper than 20 feet of water.
Jigs and shiners continue to be the bait of choice. Other minnows are doing well, too. Fatheads and small suckers are starting to do the job as the shiners become more scarce. Leeches and crawlers are starting to do the job on jigs, live bait rigs, and spinners.
Some low level light conditions are seeing crankbaits catch some fish, as well. All in all, the 2018 year class is a welcome sight to the fishermen who toiled in the years where most of the fish had to be thrown back. Some of the fish in the 20-24" range are still biting our guests hooks, though.
Perch fishing has really picked up with the warmer temperatures. Lots of perch in the 9 to 12 inch range are coming in. Fathead minnows, any way you fish them are the best for the perch. Look for emergent weeds or areas that transition from hard bottom to softer bottom. They are on the prowl for crayfish.
Northern fishermen have been pleased with the number and size of the pike they are catching this spring. Along with the normal fish taken while walleye fishing, assorted plugs and spoons can bag some pike right now.
All in all, we are surviving the heat quite nicely. The fish are eager to bite, and the guests are all happy. If you would like to get in on the action, check our website for availability and give us a call." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
Over the past few days, surface water temperatures have been shooting up into the high 70- degree-range. In fact, on Saturday, the water on Winnie, out front of our resort reached above 79 degrees, nearly passing 80 during the late afternoon. Algae blooms are increasing, water clarity is decreasing and thanks to that, fish are finding their way into shallower water.
The benefit to our guests is that walleye are becoming easier to catch during bright conditions without having to ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report June 6, 2021
We’re watching the weather forecast, and the water temperature closely, looking forward to a warming trend this week. After last week’s cold snap, the surface water on Winnibigoshish took a plunge. Over the Memorial Day weekend, surface readings below 60 degrees were common, some were as low as 58 degrees.
The cool water temperatures did not affect our guests’ catches, in fact most folks caught a lot of fish. But these days on Winnie, cool water is clear water, and that increased clarity has been affecting fish location, not in a good way. Weeding through small fish, caught in deep water is not the best recipe for maximizing protections for Winnie’s massive 2018- and 2019-year classes.
Warmer water, we hope, will lead to algae blooms which would encourage walleyes to move into shallower water. Weed patches, shoreline breaks, and shallow water rock structures came alive during 2020 when the lake’s algae blooms produced ideal conditions. In fact, last summer was like fishing Winnie back in the good old days when it was known for its 11 AM to 2:00 PM walleye bite. Everyone we know would love to see that happen again this summer!
There are a few of ways that folks could avoid putting so much pressure on the fish located in deep water and still have fun on the lake. For walleye purists, the best way is to pursue walleyes during the early morning and late evening when they have a natural tendency to move shallower for feeding. Some folks are even fishing “the night bite”, trolling plugs in shallower water and having high action.
For action-oriented anglers who like multi-species fishing, the lake is prime right now. There are northern pike, perch, crappies and bass setting up in shallow water weeds. For the most part, crappies have moved away from spawning habitat and can now be found in patches of cabbage weeds. Bass and panfish, may still be found in bedding areas, but can also be caught in other vegetation, including bulrushes, wild rice and coontail. Northern pike seem to be everywhere right now, they can be caught in the weeds, on the rocks and even along the steep, shoreline breaks.
Jig heads that feature safety pin style spinners, like the Lindy Spinner, Beetle Spin or Road Runners are good choices for exploring the weed patches. These jigs can be tipped with live bait, but often, plastic tails are equally effective and sometimes even better than live bait.
Position your boat within easy casting distance of weed patches, cast your lure into the vegetation, let it drop a little and then retrieve slowly. You will be amazed at the number of species that strike this presentation. Right here in Tamarack Bay, you could bag every species that swims in the lake from rock bass to muskies.
For folks who insist on fishing for walleyes in deep water, we suggest sticking with jig and minnow presentations. Granted, there are other ways to catch them, but we feel like the jigs are less destructive than some of the other live bait presentations. Until the time of season arrives when walleyes won’t strike jig and minnow combos anymore, stick with them.
As we roll into summer, walleye migrations will take them onto a wider variety of structures, and we’re already seeing the early phases of that. Over the weekend, walleyes of all shapes and sizes were moving along the breaklines on the east and south shorelines. What make that important is that these areas are the natural corridor that walleyes use when they move from shoreline areas, out onto mid-lake bars and humps.
Folks caught fish on the Bena Bar this weekend, especially where it comes closest to the south shore. Horseshoe, Sugar and Center Bars produced some fish too and even some of the lakes smaller, isolated humps began to produce small numbers of fish. As the migrations progress, we should see more fish using the upper edges of structures in shallower depths. On mid-lake bars, 16 to 24 feet are common depths, and this will present folks with a more realistic depth range for catch and release fishing.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed for warm water, solid algae blooms and fast growth rates. All will help make the good times on Winnie even better in the weeks and months ahead! — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
"Fishing has remained in a sort of holding pattern. The cold weather this week has kept the fish in the same areas as last week. Shoreline breaklines continue to hold the majority of the fish on Lake Winnie.
Walleye fishing remains steady although yesterday morning when it was 29 degrees did have an adverse affect on the walleye bite. But as the day wore on a fairly reliable bite took over. Jigs and shiner minnows remains the bait of choice for the walleyes.
Northern fishing has been very good. Most of the fish are caught while jigging for walleyes. Those using artificial lures are having success catching pike, as well.
The perch have been harder to pin down than the other species. They seem to be "on the move" more than the other fish. You find a school and catch some and then they are gone. As the forage for the perch stabilize, the pattern for perch will become clearer.
All in all, the fishing remains good to very good. No one is going hungry in camp. Most are going home with a nice bunch of fish, too.
We have some opening the next few weeks. Check our availability on the website, if we have an opening and you want to get in on the action, give us a call." — Joe Thompson >> Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"After a weeklong warm up, a slightly cold, cold front interrupted progress toward early summer walleye patterns on Sunday. Walleyes that had already moved onto deep water structure stayed where they were, but there was not much change in numbers. According to incoming reports, small, scattered packs of larger, mostly female fish were all that could be turned up out there.
Surface water temperatures rebounded nicely afterward, hitting the 65-degree mark on Monday. Walleyes resumed their migration, in fact picked up their pace, we believe. By late in the day, larger schools of smaller male fish started showing up on some of the prominent bars and deep-water points. This is good news, because these migrating fish have been found in water depths of 15 to 22 feet.
Until now, many have relied on the most popular destinations for walleye action, the steep, shoreline breaks adjacent to ..." Read >> Cutfoot Sioux, Lake Winnibigoshish Fishing Report May 27, 2021
"Walleye fishing continues to dominate the fishing scene at the Four Seasons on Lake Winnie. Fishermen are finding good numbers of small walleyes on the west side of the lake.
Jigs and shiner minnows in 14-20' of water has been the ticket to catching a lot of fish. Whereas in the past few years it has been a challenge to catch any fish under the slot, this year it is a challenge to catch fish that are large enough to keep. It seems if you keep sorting through the smaller ones, you will eventually come up with a nice meal of fish. Some are even reporting limits. Most of the fish being kept are 13-16".
Perch have been sort of elusive this past week. Normally, the perch are mixed in with the walleyes. The schools of perch seem to be avoiding the large small walleye schools. The perch are catching are very nice size.
Northerns are mixed in with the walleyes. Some nice northerns are being caught on jigs while fishing for walleyes. The pike seem to be very healthy for this time of year. One fisherman, while reeling in a small walleye, actually caught a 38". The walleye was on a stinger hook and the northern got caught on the main hook of the jig.
The weather has been fantastic so far this season. The fishing has been as well. We have openings for the next few weeks. Now is the time to come to Winnie to fish. Give us a call and we can get you booked in for some great fishing." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
"All in all, this has been a classic opening week of walleye fishing at The Pines Resort. Our report about fishing patterns, and fish locations could have been written nearly anytime in Lake Winnie’s history. The one key exception is water depth, since the advent of Zebra Mussels, anglers have had to adjust their fishing depths downward. It's especially true right now becasue the water is much clearer than it was during the 2020 fishing season. That might change later, but not likely this weekend, so count on clear water conditions.
Over the past week, walleyes have been found in most of the popular east side locations. Our bay has been about as far as anybody needs to travel to find fish. There are good populations along the shoreline break from Plughat Point to Haubrich’s Bay. Traveling west from there, Bowen’s Flat has decent schools of fish and so does Tamarack Point, the Mississippi River Channel and the breakline at 3 Sisters.
Another similarity to Winnie’s history of providing great early season action is the crowds. Anglers have heard good reports about the 2018-year class of walleye that inhabit the lake and they are showing up in good numbers to pursue them.
Fish in the 13-to-14-inch range make up the bulk of that year class and that is what we see our guests bringing back to the fish cleaning shack. One exception has been a group of anglers who fished after dark, they did catch some larger fish, but reported that the 2018-year class still dominated their catch.
Probably your best strategy for selecting a fishing spot is to look at the crowds in each area and watch for places where the traffic is sparse by comparison. Having more room to work allows you to scan the structure with your electronics. It is amazing how much easier it is to locate a school of fish when you can search without interruption.
Presentations are typical of the early season; most folks are using jig and minnow combinations. Shiners are plentiful this year, so that has been the minnow of choice. Large fatheads, rainbow chubs or small pike suckers will all work, so don’t stress out if you want to spend less on minnows, the alternatives will still work.
There are more people fishing Lindy Rigs than usual this spring, especially when fish are located deeper. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have 2 rods rigged up and give both presentations a try at every spot. Using 1-4-to-3–8-ounce sinkers and fairly long, 6-to-8-foot snells should do the trick. Some folks like adding a float to the snell, it helps keep the hook out of low-lying weeds and Zebra Mussel shells laying on the bottom.
Perch action has been limited so far, there have been some mixed in with walleyes, but we don’t know of anybody who has targeted purely perch and been successful. Probably, perch will be less scattered and easier to find after the minnows finish their spawning runs and stack up in deeper water.
Crappies, at least a few, have turned up at the fish cleaning shack too. A couple of groups found them by fishing near bulrush patches. Winnie’s water temperature lags behind some of the smaller, dark water lakes that are already producing good catches of panfish. It won’t surprise us if panfish action picks up over the next several days, we’ll let you know if it does.
You might have guessed that we’re pretty busy at the resort right now and you would be correct in doing so. For the most part, we’re filled up for the next several weeks, but we do have a couple of un-expected, last-minute openings.
If you needed a large, 2-bedroom cabin between May 29 and June 5, 2021, we could help you out. Again, there is one, 2-bedroom cabin available between June 5 and June 12, 2021. So, that is it, 2 spots available during the prime-time walleye season. If you want one of them, let us know, we would love to see you!
Have a great weekend of fishing and check back next week for more updates. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
The accompanying photo of Lisa and Mike Lindholm was typical of what many anglers enjoyed this weekend as well. A healthy smattering of fish from the 2013-year class helped keep the cameras clicking while folks gathered some of the 13-to-14-inch 2018s for family fish fries back at camp.
On the south end, walleyes were stacked up along a steep shoreline break. To the west, they were straddling a slow tapering breakline between the shallow flats and deeper water. Up north, walleyes were holding in a trough formed by the tailwaters of Third River Flowage, the large flat between Stony and Mallard Points. To the east, folks found fish along the Mississippi River channel and on the weed flats in Tamarack Bay.One generalization about the 2021 season so far is that fish are located in ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Fishing Report May 18, 2021
"Opening Day, 2021, we had the trifecta of fishing! Great weather, great fishing, and for the first time in several years, keepable fish. There were smells of fresh walleye cooking all over the resort last night. Most every boat reported good catches of 13-15" walleyes today.
Fish were caught on jigs and shiner minnows all along the west side of the lake. Key depth was a little deeper due to the calm conditions. Most of the fish were caught from 16-20'. It was a stark contrast to the last few years where boats were reporting 30-50 fish days with no keepers. We are going to be in great shape on the walleye front for the next few years.
Some nice perch were also brought in. There were not as many as I expected, but that may be due to the fact that most of the perch were avoiding the schools of walleyes.
Northerns were caught while jigging for walleyes. I cleaned a few over 30". They were very healthy fish with solid bodies, a far cry from the skinny fish normally seen this time of year.
It was an extremely successful opening day. It looks like it will be a great year to fish Lake Winnie. We have limited openings for the remainder of the year. But there are opportunities to get up and stay at the resort and get in on the action. Give us a call and we can get you set up." — Joe Thompson, Four Seasons Resort 218-665-2231
I know this wasn’t the first time we’ve had beautiful weather for the fishing opener, but the 2021 opener has to rank right up there with the best of the best. Sunny skies, mid-70-degree air temperatures and calm seas combined to help make most everybody’s opening day experience an enjoyable one.
For me and my crew, Lake Winnibigoshish’ Four Seasons Resort on the west side was the target destination. Before we left the dock, Joe Thompson had already heard from one of his friends on the lake and pointed me in the direction of where the “hot bite” was happening. But me being me, I was obviously not going to start there, I had to at least take a swing at finding my own spot first.
As we crossed the large flat going out from the river mouth, surface water ranged from about 56 to 57 degrees. Water clarity was higher, in my opinion, than it was during the early part of the 2020 season. We could easily see the bottom in 6 to 7 feet of water. Without much wind blowing, it appeared that we’d be fishing deeper than most typical openers on the big lake. It didn’t take long for that observation to be proven correct.
Not far from the first major breakline I began marking fish. The hooks I saw on my Humminbird looked like good ones and they were holding along the break in about 15 to 17 feet of water. We were all rigged up with 1/8-ounce jigs, a little light for that depth, but I moved slowly enough to allow them to drop into the strike zone. The slow speed, combined with the fishes’ aggressive attitudes allowed us to get away with the mismatch for a while.
At first, the fish chased down the lures and strikes were easy to come by. Hooksets, sometimes not so much, the shiners we had were a little large and we missed or lost some of the fish because of it. Later, we learned to wait longer before trying to set the hook and that helped some, but we still missed some.
The fish we were catching were fun, but they were all slot-fish. After we’d taken enough pictures, our thoughts turned toward getting some smaller, eating size fish. Joining the crowd was the best way to do that, so moved further up the shoreline and carved out a little bit of territory.
The move worked, sort of, now we were catching smaller fish, but most of them were too small to keep. We crossed paths with Captain Mark and he said that his crew had caught a lot of keepers in that area, but we must have arrived too late to get in on the action.
As the day wore on, the fish moved deeper, most of the fish we marked were in 20 to 22 feet of water, with occasional sightings in 17 to 19 feet. We switched to ¼ ounce Lindy Live Bait Jigs to help maintain contact with the bottom and the heavier weights did help.
We caught a lot of fish on Saturday, many were too big, most were too small and a few were just right. There were quite few pike biting too and that was perfect for us. The small pike were added to our larder and by days end, there were plenty of fish in the livewell.
Back at the dock, I asked Joe if folks had been coming in with lots of fish, “some are, some aren’t, it’s a typical opener,” he said. Some caught more fish than others, but fish or no fish, there weren’t many folks on Winnie who didn’t have a good time.
I’m up against the clock right now, but you can count on more updates as the week unfolds. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Early data from MN DNR 2020 Fisheries surveys supports the widely held belief that walleyes from the 2018 year class now dominate the population of “catchable” size fish in the system. As the class of 2018 matures, the stage is set for our guests to enjoy good fishing walleyes this summer. And during 2021, we expect to see not only strong numbers of fish, but also improving size quality.
During the 2020 fall assessments, the arithmetic was favorable. In fact, DNR fisheries staff recorded the third highest walleye numbers observed in ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Outlook May 7, 2021
Q) Why is the water level so low and why did the Corp keep the Dam wide open all winter? (The last two winters!)
Why the last two springs has the water level been so low? Was there not an agreement between the Fisheries and Corp to maintain a higher water level in the “spawning” season?
Two and a half years ago our fisheries department determined that higher water levels in the spring translates to stronger year classes of Walleye. The next two springs in a row, low water. This Spring lower than I’ve personally ever seen the lake in August! With Winnie finally recovering after 8-9 (pretty) poor years, one would think everyone could get on the same page.
Thought maybe you could provide some insight on this. Thanks Jeff have a great day!
A) Ryan, you’re right, a few years back, Grand Rapids DNR Fisheries staff did discover what appeared to be a correlation between high water levels and stronger than average walleye year class success on Lake Winnibigoshish.
Like you, I was under the impression that at the time, Grand Rapids DNR Fisheries and the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) had consulted and subsequently reached an agreement. The agreement, according to DNR Fisheries would have been aimed at maintaining higher water levels during the spring walleye spawning season. Grand Rapids Fisheries Manager, Dave Weitzel was under the same impression, he confirmed that to me in an email on Thursday.
I checked in with Megan Severson at the Corps of Engineers office at the Pokegama Dam and by her account, if there was an agreement, it was an arm’s length understanding at best. There is not, nor has there ever been any formal understanding between ACE and DNR regarding maintaining any water levels on Winnie. Severson, “We are not required to consult with DNR about regulating the water levels anywhere in the region. Our management practices are dictated by standing legislation passed many years ago.”
Originally, according to Severson, controlling the inflow and outflow at dams along the Mississippi River was intended to maintain pre-determined water levels in river channels located closer to the Twin Cities. “Today, the emphasis is more on recreational usage, rather than industrial concerns”, Severson added.
Whether or not there is, or was any "formal agreement" may be moot. That is because ACE’s pre-determined target water levels already align with the DNR's preferred water elevation range for good walleye reproduction. Weitzel, “We (DNR) target 1298 feet and rising during the spawn. Water level is currently (4-9-2021) good at 1297.7 and I think this rain will get us close to ideal conditions by the time the fish really get going.”
At ACE, Severson confirmed that their target elevation is 1298.19 feet, smack dab in the middle of the range that DNR fisheries staff would like to see. Severson agrees that water levels are low right now but speculates that they aren’t likely to stay that way for very long.
Reasons for the current levels include lower than average snowfall this winter, an extremely early ice-out and then there's the human element of having to "guess" what the weather will do in the future. Secerson, "We try to anticipate what water levels will do based on a typical season. But getting it right isn't always that easy and we have to make adjustments."
But look at the “Annual Variability Chart 1", comparing today's water level to the same date, April 8, but in 2019 shows that they are almost identical and that, by the way, was the best walleye year class ever, according to DNR fisheries.
Now take a look at the water levels for April 26, 2019 Annual Variability Chart 2, when the walleye spawning run really started heating up. By then, water levels had risen to 198.76, higher than target levels, partly because of ACE controlling the Winnie Dam, but due also in part to above average spring runoff and rainfall.
I mentioned that chart to Severson and she confirmed my own observation that this is the week historically, when they begin bringing water levels up into the desired range. Severson, “We try not to make sudden changes, raising (or lowering) the water levels at a steady, gradual pace until they reach the desired elevation.”
This year, concerns about water levels are likely heightened because of the super-early ice out. Casual observers like me, are used to seeing everything appear to happen all at once. By the time walleye move toward spawning areas, sometimes almost immediately after ice out, most of the changes to water levels have already occurred. But this year, the ice left the lakes so early that we have to watch it all happen in slow motion.
Over the next several weeks, as walleye eggs begin maturing and the fish make their move, water levels should have already risen. So in a couple weeks, the situation should look a lot better to those of us cheering for another strong walleye spawning season.
Summing it up, everyone does appear to be on the same page, sort of. Even though there's no mandate, target elevations for water levels on Winnie do favor decent walleye spawning conditions in a "typical" season.
If, by some fluke, water levels were to raise above target levels and enter into "flood stage" territory like they did in 2019, that could produce another "bumper crop" and we might be even happier. But that would be a bonus and to happen, boils down to Mother Nature's timing. She still holds all the trump cards, so despite our planning, plotting and speculating, she can still change the whole scenario with few extra sunny days or another string of rainy ones; that's up to her.
Like I said yesterday, it would appear that all we can do now is hurry up and wait. Whatever will happen will happen when it happens. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
After contacting several resort and shelter rental operators on Sunday, it's evident that access to Lake Winnie will be restricted for the remainder of this year's ice fishing season. Here are updates about Lake Winnie Ice Accesses and travel conditions as of March 8, 2021.
Almost all of the lake's accesses remained open through Sunday March 7, 2021, but some of them were closed at the end of business Sunday. With air temperatures in the mid-50s and full sunshine, snow cover over the ice was practically fully melted and there was standing water everywhere.
Access ramps were heavily stressed by the meltdown, forcing resorts that remain open to limit the size and number of vehicles using their ramps. A few contoinue to provide limited access for travel by ATV or foot traffic and a couple still allow pickup trucks, but only for guests staying at their resorts.
Anglers using ATVs and light vehicles can still move around on the lake, but use caution. Snowmobiles are not recommended, but could be used in a pinch if necessary. Click on the accompanying map which identifies the access points around the lake and provides updates about their current condition.
It sure was fun while it lasted! I think the winter of 2020-2021 offered folks more fishing opportunity than any of us have experienced in a long time. Lake access were great, on-ice detours, like pressure ridges and slushy spots were minimal and for the most part, fish were biting.
There is still a good 20 inches of solid ice on most north central Minnesota lakes, more than enough for driving vehicles. But I think for many, ice fishing season will be over after this weekend. Despite more than adequate ice thicknesses on the lakes, conditions at the accesses will be greatly diminished after today. So, while I agree with folks when they say, “It Ain't Over, 'Till It's Over”, folks depending on travel by pickup truck will need in-depth, advance planning.
On Lake Winnie for example, we drove freely around the lake on Saturday; so did everybody else. But when it was time to leave, the access ramp, while still open, was getting sloppy. Deep ruts, some potholes and plenty of standing water made me wonder if that access would hold up to the off-loading of vehicles and fishing shelters throughout the day today.
Looking around the lake, it was obvious that there are a lot of others who share my concern. Wheelhouses and permanent rentals were everywhere a couple of weeks ago, but 95% of them were already gone yesterday. Even with a week remaining before the shelter removal deadline, there were very few willing to risk getting their gear off the lake if they’d waited.
From here on out, anglers using ATVs will still find reasonably good conditions at many ramps, and anglers who don’t mind hoofing it to their favorite panfish spots have plenty of time left too. That’s probably what I’ll do, walk out to a few of my favorite sunfish and crappie holes.
Luckily, it matters not how much ice time I have left, because first, I got to spend the past few days on the lake with some of my favorite people. Then, my daughter Annalee and son-in-law, Austin Jones were able to stick around to join I and Susan for the world famous Gosh Dam Places' bring in your own fish, fish fry. So last night, I rested well knowing that my ice fishing season is now complete.
The Hippie Chick and me are not planning to let the nice weather go to waste today, we’ll be outside doing something. Even if we don’t fish, I’ll make point of checking some of the more popular accesses and let you know how they look for the upcoming week. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Travel conditions are excellent. The network of plowed roads is in excellent shape, high, dry and wide. Off road snow cover is 2 to 4 inches over the top of a solid, 20 inches of clear ice. There are scattered snowbanks in areas that were plowed for parking wheelhouses throughout the winter, but these are easily avoidable. Anglers on the lake were were traveling by pickup truck, freely, to and from any spots they wanted to fish; that’s the good news.
The bad news is that we had to take full advantage of all that easy travel. Beginning our day at the McArdle’s and Becker’s road on the west side, we moved spot to spot all the way the west shore. After making a dozen or so stops, I wound up at Mallard Point before catching my first keeper perch. That led to a catch of about 15 nice size fish. Yes, that’s a lot of driving and a lot of drilling to find one school of perch, but that’s the way it worked out.
It’s possible that Arne and I were too dependent on “insider” information that we received before we started fishing. Word on the lake was that perch were being caught in water depths of 12 to 16 feet. But the fish I located were deeper, 18 to 24 feet on the breakline into a deep hole, adjacent to a large mid-depth, 14 to 18 foot flat.
For me, stopping at that deeper hole was one of those “what have I got to lose”? moments. In fact, by then it was about 3:00 PM and I figured it would be my last stop before heading home. We had never tried much deeper water along the trip north, so for all I know, we drove past several other good spots before “figuring it out”.
Once we knew where there were some fish, they were fairly willing to strike. They travelled in small packs, often appearing on the Humminbird in 2s or 3s at a time. Some fish were better than others, the largest keepers were about 11 inches, the smaller end of keeper range was in the 9-1/2-inch neighborhood.
A 1/8-ounce Pink/Glow Lindy Quiver Spoon tipped with a minnow head worked for me, so did a Red/Glow Frostee Jig tipped with a whole, live minnow. I tried waxworms too, but the minnows were clearly working better, at least on this day.
We had traveled so far up the lake that by the time we were ready to leave, Highbanks road was closer than the road we started on. So we drove over there and left the lake using their access on the east shoreline. The landing was still okay, but runoff from the parking lot and vehicle traffic was causing deterioration. I wouldn’t be surprised if continued warm weather forces them to close that landing after this weekend, so, I would call ahead before driving over there.
Today, my family is hoping that I learned enough yesterday to get them in on some action today. I hope so too, but either way, I’ll let you know how it goes in the next day or two.
If you're headed out today, enjoy the nice weather! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Snow and slush have not been much of factor on the bay this winter, but just in case, we were braced for complications from yesterday’s snowfall. It didn’t turn out to be much of a problem and the few inches of snow that did fall, are already cleaned off of our roads.
Our guests continue to report good fishing in Tamarack Bay. Walleye and perch are roaming the edges of large flats using a soft breakline at about 14 feet of water. Because of the lack of pin-pointed, well defined structures, they are not always easy to pin down. But folks who keep their lines in the water catch fish as the schools pass through the area.
Wonder Bread color lures are producing both perch and walleyes in the bay, experiment with shapes and sizes.
Traffic on the lake has been heavier than usual this winter, so creativity is becoming an important part of every fishing trip. If you’re mobile, then this is a good time to venture away from areas with established crowds. Snowmobiles and track machines can help you get out and away from the heavily populated areas. There is a lot of “fresh territory” at mid-lake right now and fish populations have been building on the sunken bars and humps.
Until recently, some of them were accessible by pickup trucks, but they’re predicting more wind today, and drifting snow could make off-road travel a little dicey, we’ll keep an eye on that for you.
Populations of pike, tullibee and eelpout are building on mid-lake structure too. Mid-winter is the time to straddle the steep breaklines using tip ups and large minnows for pike. Set a tip up in water depths of 12 to 18 feet along the edge of prominent structure. While you watch your tip up, fish deeper water ranging from 28 to 35 feet deep, tullibees move a lot, often suspending several feet about the bottom, so good electronics are extremely helpful.
To help get their attention, rig up a large, flashy spoon like a gold or silver ¼ ounce Quiver Spoon. Random jigging use long sweeping strokes and allow the spoon to flutter back down on a slack line. Once you see fish on your flasher, switch over to using small jigs tipped with wax worms to trigger strikes. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
When it starts to feel like you're stuck in a rut, subtle changes in location, technique and fishing style can add up to big differences in your daily catch.
Follow Jon Thelen as he explains some key tips on finding and catching walleyes as they move to midwinter structure.
View Video and Learn More >> Find and Catch More Mid-Winter Walleye
Here are some updates about lake accesses and travel conditions on Lake Winnie as of January 7, 2021.
After talking with several resort and rental owners, it's evident that access to Lake Winnie will continue to be restricted for a short time. But as rental operators prepare to open plowed roads, options for anglers are beginning to improve.
Almost all of the lake's accesses have been opened, but only provide limited access to the better fishing areas. Snowmobiles, ATVs and light vehicles can move around on the lake, but use caution, there are areas of rough, broken ice that may be difficult to spot under the light blanket of snow.
The accompanying map with numbered descriptions identifies the access points around the lake.
#1 Dixon Lake Resort, Open, most recent update 1-14-2021. Access to the lake provided by a plowed road to ..." Read >> Lake Winnie Access Map
To say that it was a crazy weekend on Winnie, could be the fishing world’s understatement of 2021! At one point, we had ice fishing rigs lined up from our ramp, all the way out onto County Road 9 waiting for their turn to get on to the lake.
On Tamarack Bay, the scene, according to lifelong residents was reminiscent of the crowds of perch anglers from the 1970s and 1980s.
Some of the folks were here because they had heard the fishing is good in our bay. Others were here because our plowed roads are in excellent shape and afforded this season’s earliest access to Winnie via pickup trucks at a time when they could not drive out on many other area lakes. Still more anglers showed up midway into the weekend because they felt the action was too slow on the lake(s) where they began their New Year Weekend fishing trips last Thursday afternoon.
No matter the reason, all the conditions, including the weather, combined to create one of the busiest ice fishing weekends that the Deer River area has experienced in recent history.
On the lake, most folks reported good action, and agreed that the “hot bite” bite, wasn’t necessarily for any one species. Some of our guests and rental shelter customers caught good numbers of perch. Others caught more walleyes than perch, including one angler who iced one that was 28-1/2 inches long this weekend. When Chad checked up on one crew, they even had a pail filled with crappies. Pike were active too and this weekend, there were quite a few eelpout caught as well.
Key water depths ranged from 12 to 16 feet and for the most part, sand flats containing sparse, low lying vegetation were the most productive. It’s hard to say for sure, but it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that insect larvae, developing in marl, areas with a soft clay-mud mixture are causing the big attraction.
Presentations varied, so a good planner would have a supply of jigging spoons in the 1/8 to 1/4 ounce sizes, use these for vertical jigging active fish. Experiment too with some of the hybrid jigging baits, glow spoons and glow streaks for example.
Have some single hook blade baits like Frostee Spoons for “dead-sticking” or slower jigging using whole minnows to trigger neutral fish. Bring along some small tungsten jigs for perch and crappie, sometimes the tungsten, tipped with wax worms will trigger more fish when they are focused on insect larvae. For larger walleye and pike, it’s always a good idea to have a few larger minnows to fish on set lines or tip-ups.
Productive colors for walleye are red-glow, pink-glow, blue-glow, gold and orange. Perch are cannibalistic, so along with other the color choices, using lures with natural perch patterns can be super-effective for “Jumbos”.
Our plowed roads are in excellent condition and we have most of Tamarack Bay opened up, so finding a fishing spot won’t be difficult. Access to the lake at our landing is good for pickups or vehicles towing smaller, single axle fishing shelters. If you have a larger wheelhouse, call us and we’ll help you with an alternative landing more suitable for big rigs.
With all the hubbub on the lake, our short-range bookings are getting close to filled up. But we do still have a handful of rentals available for folks who want to fish this weekend. Give us a call for updates, or if you’re already in the area, stop by for up to the minute updates about the fishing action and conditions on the lake. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552