Want a few great gift ideas for the ice anglers on your shopping list? Here are a few super products that I've used and I'm sure will be a big hit this Christmas.
In response to a reader question last January I wrote a review. In it, I said; “That rod case has traveled with me to lake of the Woods, Upper Red Lake, Devils Lake, Kabetogama and a half dozen smaller, local lakes. Read Review >> Ice Fishing Rod Case Recommendation?
Every time I’ve opened the cover, my rods have been resting safely, nestled in the exact spots that I place them before I’ve begun travelling. I haven’t had a tangled line, there haven’t been any snagged lures inside and most importantly, nothing has been broken! My tackle has been organized and easy to reach as well.”
Everything about that review stands; in fact the same box is still loaded with the same rods and the same tackle as it was last winter and it’s all in perfect condition, ready for our trip to Lake of the Woods next week.
For anybody who needs a seriously bullet proof rod case, this one will do the trick. Learn More >> Ice Fishing Innovations
The lithium battery I bought for my Helix 7 last winter was an even better investment than I expected. Not only did it perform flawlessly, and not only was it's light weight a welcome relief from carrying the heavy lead battery
The lithium battery I bought for my Helix 7 last winter was an even better investment than I expected. Not only did it perform flawlessly, and not only was its light weight a welcome relief from carrying the heavy lead battery, but the best part is that it is still taking a full charge.
That’s big news because in the past, I’ve always had to buy a new battery every winter. This year I won’t need to do that, and that helps close the price gap between the lithium and conventional battery. There were 2 reports referencing the lithium battery last winter >> December 3, 2018 "There's Lithium In Our Future" and December 17, 2018 "QnA Can I Run My Helix 7 Backlight Using Lithium Battery?"
Lithium batteries, along with folks who sell them are easy enough to find. But I liked the folks who sold me the one I picked up last year. At the time, they were called Energized Outdoors, but since then they’ve changed their name to Amped Outdoors. They offer a variety of sizes and models and in my opinion; their products are a great value. For an economical way to replace your old lead battery with a lithium one, this is where you can Learn More. >> Amped Outdoors
For Vexilar users only, Norsk Fishing offers the Brack Pack. The package includes a lithium battery and charger, along with an innovative case for your flasher. I don't own one of these because they don't have a model for my Humminbird, but when I spotted it at the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show, I knew that if they did, I would want one.
The pack offers a neck strap so you can wear the unit around your neck like a papoose. That means you can walk hands free from hole-to-hole with your flasher on your chest.
When they make one for my Humminbird, I will be the first in line to buy it. If the ice angler on your Christmas list uses a Vexilar flasher, this could be an award winning gift idea. Learn More >> Norsk Brack Pack
Lindy Fishing Tackle introduced the new Glow Streak this winter. It's a hybrid lure that combines the best features of lipless crankbaits and heavy metal jigging lures. It has intense action, convincing natural colors and accepts a light stick.
If the angler on your list likes having the newest and most innovative fishing lures on hand, then the Glow Streak is the one you want.
You can find the Glow Streak in most of your local tackle and sporting goods stores right now; just ask for the new Lindy Glow Streak.
There is definitely a difference between winter fishing line and summertime fishing line. For me, Gamma's copolymer ice line is the best.
I've written about it before and folks have asked questions about how to find it. Admittedly, it isn't easy to find in most stores, so I'd just cut to the chase and uase this link to order it from the >> Gamma Fishing Line Website.
Whenever, I'm heading for the ice, warm feet are the first thing I think about and I'll bet it's the same for you. That's why you can never go wrong giving the gift of smart wool socks. It doesn't matter how many pairs I have in my drawer, I'm always happy when I get another one. In fact, I wouldn't mind getting a new pair of smart wool socks this Christmas; just saying.
My ice fishing season begins in earnest this Sunday and we'll likely be on the ice every day next week. But first, I'm gonna take one last swing at bagging a deer with my muzzleloader. Who knows, maybe there's a venison burger in my future? — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
It must be interesting to be part of the Minnesota Panfish Workgroup; we have no such thing in Michigan. (It was) informative about releasing fish caught from 30+ feet of water not surviving.
I have been ice fishing for 50+ years and still enjoy it, but believe that technology and social media are going to destroy it. I remember when starting to ice fish all those years ago and having just a radio flyer sled, ice spud, a few tear drops and a pole with a plastic reel on it.
I guess people now don't have time to ice fish; but (do) have money. You can drop $3000.00 for a live scan ice fishing system, buy an $8,000.00-$20,000.00 ATV or snowmobile and check all of the social media sites for the hot lakes before you go ice fishing.
I believe that I'm becoming an “old school dinosaur” ice fisherman. I've always compared ice fishing to a jigsaw puzzle; it takes time and work to put all of the pieces together. I have hand colored the depth contours on my paper lake maps, shrunk them down and laminated on 3"x5" cards.
I don't own a snowmobile or ATV, I walk or snowshoe to the lakes I ice fish. I do own a flasher and have a handheld GPS unit. I love to mostly catch and release bluegill or black crappie during hard water season. People think that I'm crazy to drill 50 holes in day and then let the fish go.
Finding information about lakes around here is like pulling teeth; a tight lipped group to say the least. (Still) I don't use any of the social media sites and only have a cell phone because my job requires it. I guess that’s why I'm a solitaire ice fisherman, nobody likes to drill holes and sit outside to fish anymore.
Thanks for reading this e-mail, have a great ice fishing season." — Jeff Heeman
REPLY: Thank you for comments Jeff and also for calling attention to the In-Fisherman Ice Guide article, I'm glad that you found it informative and I hope others do too.
As an ice angler whose been astonished by the rapid development of ice fishing technology, I can understand how one could look at it all and conclude that the end is near. There’s so much information, so many handy gadgets and enough comfortable places to sit on the ice that it seems like the fish don’t stand a chance against it all.
I agree that there’s definitely reason for concern, but I’m not sure that it’s “the technology” that we should be worried about. People are who controls the technology and how it’s used. So from my point of view, influencing people to use innovation responsibly should be the focus of any discussion.
We both know that technology is here to stay; in fact I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. So I don’t think there’s much point in railing against it. I think a better idea is to embrace it, stay involved, learn what all the gizmos and gadgets do and then help educate folks about how to use them responsibly, in ways that benefit everybody.
For most folks, utilizing today’s social media platforms isn’t much different than when you were working on your hand colored paper maps. Like you were then, they’re making the best use of the technology that’s available at the time.
As an observer of “social media”, I’ve seen a lot of viewpoints exchanged. I can’t say that I’ve always been happy with some of the discourse. But I say that more often than not, anglers handle themselves pretty darn well. I think for the most part, folks just want to get an idea about where to go, or what to do when they get there.
I know that there’s always a risk that making fishing too easy won’t be good for the fish. But fishing doesn’t have to get worse just because we become more efficient, we can choose not to over-burden the resources if we want to.
So let’s just suppose that instead of blaming technology for the destruction of ice fishing, we look to it as a means of making it even better. What if we set standards for ourselves aimed at making fishing better, not worse?Whether we talk about the latest electronics, the most luxurious wheel houses or who got the most “pageviews” on the social pages, it all boils down to how we use the tools we have. If we teach the teach-able, coach the coach-able and above all else, learn the learn-able, we’ve got a chance at a fantastic future.
"The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Explore Minnesota are partnering to launch a new Outdoor Recreation Task Force. The group will make recommendations about how Minnesota can connect more people to the health and wellness benefits of outdoor recreation, improve equitable access to outdoor recreation, and better support the state’s thriving outdoor recreation economy.
The agencies are accepting applications to serve on the task force until Jan. 10, 2020
There is mounting scientific evidence of the significant health and wellness benefits of outdoor recreation. In addition, the impact of outdoor recreation to local, state and national economies is well-documented, as is the importance of Minnesota’s outdoor recreation opportunities as a key motivator for tourists to visit our state.
“Outdoor recreation provides substantial social, economic, and health-related benefits to Minnesotans,” said Governor Tim Walz. “This task force represents a ‘big-tent’ effort to bring together a community of leaders who will make recommendations to make sure Minnesota is second-to-none in outdoor recreation and economic opportunity.”
Around the country, 16 states have created offices or commissions on outdoor recreation as a way to collaborate across agency and organizational boundaries to expand the benefits of outdoor recreation for the economy, environmental stewardship, and quality of life.
Minnesota’s task force will make its recommendations to the DNR and Explore Minnesota by next fall about what Minnesota can do to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities.
“Interest in outdoor recreation is growing nationally due to the many economic, public health, and social benefits outdoor activities and public lands bring to communities,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “New research shows what Minnesotans have always intuitively known: that life is better when you spend some time outdoors. We want to ensure that Minnesota welcomes all people—regardless of ability or background—to participate in that higher quality of life.”
“Recreation in Minnesota, including outdoor activities, is a major sector of a $15.3 billion tourism economy in our state,” said Explore Minnesota Tourism Director John Edman. “We’re eager to collaborate with a diverse group of public, private, tribal and nonprofit organizations to engage more visitors with Minnesota’s outdoor recreation opportunities.”
The DNR and Explore Minnesota leadership will select 20 task force members to represent a diverse and balanced mix of outdoor interests, expertise and values. Interested individuals may complete the application form online on the DNR’s website at mndnr.gov/ORTF or print it out and return it to Attn: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Trails Division, Attn: Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Task Force, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155. Questions about the application process should be directed to the contacts on the webpage."
While I was sorting through ice fishing reports on Tuesday, I stumbled into some comments from conservation officers in the greater Grand Rapids area. Slush, and problems related to it, was mentioned several times in their reports.
Ordinarily, I’d have my sights set on fishing small waters for panfish right now. But those same conservation officers reported that the majority of slushy areas were related primarily to the deeper water panfish lakes.
Because of the timing of this year’s “freeze up”, it might actually make more sense for anglers in the Grand Rapids area to focus on larger, shallower lakes.
For example, I’ve fielded several reports from Winnibigoshish and over there; the wind blew most of the first snowfall off of the ice. There's more snow out there now because we didn’t have as much wind with the second snowstorm, but overall, there’s less snow there than there is on the small lakes. There’s been mention of some snow drifts and also some pressure ridges, but for the most part, anglers seem to be getting around okay with ATVs.
I don’t have as much info from Leech Lake to work with, but there are a few reports trickling in. I’ll be looking for updates from that area throughout the day and will add them as they become available.
Whether you plan to pursue panfish or walleyes this weekend, I’d suggest focusing on the shallowest lakes, with the most surface area exposed to wind. I’d shy away from the tiny lakes, especially if they have deep water. They froze late and don’t have enough ice to support the snow loads right now.
Let’s hope that the cold weather is enough to help. Whatever you decide to do this weekend, be safe and don’t take unnecessary risks. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Ice conditions have varied extremely across the Northland. Conditions range from smaller lakes laden with slush and heavy snow having roughly 6”-9” of ice, to larger lakes having scant snow cover and moderately fishable ice in upwards of 5 inches.
Although ice conditions have room for improvement, the fishing has been rather exceptional. The early season Walleye bite is never disappointing to say the least. We are finding them in 6’-12’ of water and also in 17’-28’ on area lakes, working edges of the breaks off of flats or shoreline points.
Small Spoons tipped with a minnow head or jigging raps have been the best. Also, try using set-lines with a simple set up, plain hook and a Shiner or Sucker Minnow.
Crappies and Bluegills have been good on smaller bodies of water over the basins and along the weedlines. Look to the inside turns or weed points, most productive baits have been tiny spoons or tungsten jigs tipped with Clam Maki Plastics or a Waxworm.
As it always is, mobility has been key to staying on active fish. “Hole-Hopping” and moving around following the school has led to the best results. As I write this report the outside temp is currently -9° and with the continuing weather it is safe to say we are going to be making some serious ice this week.
So, we are looking forward to the week ahead of us, as ice conditions will continue to improve and become more traversable. Of course, we still advise you to take all necessary precautions, and remember No Ice is Ever Safe Ice." — Justin & Alice Wiese, Wheezy Guide Service 218-275-7525
"On Winnie we have 9 to 10 inches of good ice. Obviously temps are negative now, so there's more ice in the making as we speak. Spearing has been productive with clear water, however slowed with this cold snap. Lots of jumbo perch being seen thru the spear houses." - Tom & Jessica, Becker's Resort 218-665-2268
"Ice is at 13" straight out and 10" out and to the left. We are parking on the ice and driving straight out. We did get 6" or so of snow in the last few days. Getting around on the ice is pretty good, no signs of slush yet and with this cold, I don't think we will.
Spearing waters are not the best with visibility at about 6ft on most days. Getting some nice northers with a 16 lber speared on Saturday along with a few smaller ones. Nice Jumbo perch and a few crappie and sunnies in the mix too." — Dixon Lake Resort has shelter rentals, including sleepers. Reservations 218-659-4612
"Ice Conditions - Ice conditions continue to improve slowly this last week. Anglers are reporting 8-12 inches of good ice on many of the area lakes. Slush remains a non issue despite several inches of snow this last week. Permanent houses have begun popping up on many area lakes.
Walleye - Walleye anglers have been enjoying steady fishing during the evening hours and after dark in 18-23 feet of water. Anglers have been reporting that the majority of bites have been on dead sticks. Walleyes are being attracted to jigging spoons or jigging raps, but have been reluctant to hit them. Instead they choose to hit the minnow hanging under the dead stick.
Panfish - Panfisherman continue to locate crappies and sunnies in and around weedbeds in 10 feet of water and less. Small tungsten jigs or small jigging spoons tipped with wax worms has been the go to presentation for many anglers. Anglers have been checking classic basins locations for panfish in deeper water but success has been limited for them.
Pike - Pike anglers took advantage of warm temps to pepper bays with tip ups. They have been rewarded with some nice fish. Big lively sucker minnows have been the top producing bait this last week. Spear fisherman too have been spearing some nice pike too." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Many resorts already have some ice fishing houses on the lake. There are others watching ice conditions in the areas they fish to decide the right time to begin moving their shelters out. There's very little snow on the ice right now and below zero temperatures this week will help speed up the process.
There are some ice roads opening up to ATV and snowmobile traffic. Check with your favorite resort or outfitter about access prior to coming up.
As expected, the ice fishing action has been excellent to start out the season. There are good numbers of eater size fish being caught and there are some trophies mixed in as well. Anglers will also catch some pout, perch, tullibee and an occasional pike or sturgeon.
Most anglers are finding walleyes and sauger in 21 to 26 feet of water. There’s also a shallow bite happening in 18 to 20 feet of water during morning and evening.
Standard presentation for many anglers on LOW is fishing with one jigging rod and dead sticking a 2nd line and this system is working well right now.
Most of the Rainy River is frozen over now, with a few random spots still showing open water. There is no traffic on the river at this time while ice is forming. Extra caution is always needed with current and this year the current is stronger than most years.
Some resorts up at the Northwest Angle have a few fish houses out and initial fishing reports for walleyes are excellent.
Some areas still need time to develop safe ice, with high current this year that will take longer than usual.
Forecast is favorable, with subzero temperatures during the week. The majority of ice traffic is snowmobiles thus far. It's a must to stick to resort marked trails or know the area you are traveling. " — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"There were several groups of ice fishermen out on Bowstring this weekend. Except for 1 plywood fish-house, everyone else was using portable shelters.
There have been no cars out on the ice yet and folks will have to find their way around some snow drifts and a pressure ridge that is growing if they plan to travel by ATV.
The weekend offered great weather to be out fishing, there were no houses required. The fishing was OK, but certainly not great." — David Wanner, Northern Acres Resort 218-659-2845
I made it home from the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show just in time to move the piles of snow that fell overnight Sunday and early Monday. The Grand Rapids area got hit a little harder this week than we did by the first winter storm that occured on Thanksgiving weekend. I guess there's about 8 inches of fresh snow on top of the 6 to 7 inches that was already there.
With snow removal behind me, I can spend the day today getting caught up on fishing reports. Please tune in again, there will be additional reports posted as they become available. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL 1211
For me, the quote of the day at the December 3, 2019 meeting of Minnesota’s Panfish Workgroup was; “I’m not happy, but I’m less unhappy than I was last winter.” And as far as I’m concerned, Dave Thompson, owner of Fisherman’s Village Resort does have good reason to be less unhappy these days.
MN DNR fisheries staff rolled out the timeline for a plan that moves one of Thompson’s longtime goals, helping preserve quality sunfish populations in Minnesota is moving a few steps forward.
Minnesota’s “Quality Bluegill Initiative” came about after the MN DNR tabled any movement toward adopting new statewide sunfish regulations late in 2018. The new QBI strategy; creating a statewide list of lakes where sunfish would likely benefit from special regulations was rolled out early last summer.
A presentation at Tuesday’s meeting by Grand Rapids Area Fisheries Manager; Dave Weitzel who co-chairs the panfish workgroup brought us up to speed on where we’ve been and where we’re heading.
At the MN Fisheries Supervisor Conference last summer, fisheries staff was presented with a review of data from 20 lakes that already have special regulations. Of those 20, 9 lakes with a special 10 sunfish regulation were shown to have “maintained” their current average size sunfish.
Sunfish size structure in the other 11 lakes, those with a special 5 sunfish regulation, actually increased by an average of .7 inches. Additionally, the average ages of sunfish in those 11 lakes also increased by 1 year.
It’s likely that the data helped move the QBI into the fast lane. Fisheries supervisors approved the plan and began working on building a list of suggestions compiled by staff from all regions of the state. The list of lakes that they believed to be good candidates now stands at upwards of 150 lakes.
Public sentiment for QBI has been favorable, but there will still be a variety of surveys and/or polls to assess public opinion about specific lakes on list. Each one of those lakes will be further reviewed by fisheries staff and during that time, the list will be streamlined. Weitzel; “Highly controversial lakes will be removed prior to delivery of any final list for approval.”
Jon Hansen, MN DNR program consultant doesn’t foresee any new roadblocks along the way and anticipates that a large number of lakes on the final list will be approved. Hansen; “We expect about 125 lakes will be approved to receive special regulations during the 2021 season.
Below, you'll find links to previous artilces that will help you learn more about both the Quality Bluegill Initiative and the panfish workgroup. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Bringing Back Big Sunfish (July 2019) • The Sunfish Myth (June 2019) • The Quest For Quality Sunfish; An Uphill Battle (December 2018) • Minnesota's Quality Bluegill Initiative (October 2019) • What’s The Value of a Sunfish? •
Anyone interested in the health and welfare of Lake Winnie’s walleye population is encouraged to attend a public meeting today, Wednesday December 4, 2019 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.
Grand Rapids area fisheries staff will discuss current population trends and present an outlook for the upcoming 2020 fishing season.
The meeting location will be at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids, 402 SE 11th St, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 (218) 327-4436 For more information contact Grand Rapids Area Fisheries 218-328-8836
"On the south end of Lake of the Woods, the majority of the big lake is iced over. The area was missed by heavy snowfall from last weekend's snow storm and that will help ice creation.
The forecast looks optimistic with the daily low temps forecasted in the teens and single digits. Resorts are monitoring ice conditions closely. Resorts have been out checking ice and in some cases starting to mark trails.
No ice fishing by resorts is taking place on the main lake at this time, but there is some Northern Pike spearing taking place on shallow, back bays.
On the Rainy River there is still areas of open water in the main channel. The edges and calm bays have iced up.
There is no traffic on the river at this time while ice is forming. Extra caution is always needed with current and this year the current is stronger than most years.
Up at the NW Angle, ice is forming nicely. With that being said, there is higher than normal current this year so working through a resort or outfitter is always a good idea as they will keep you away from areas that are suspect.
With the many islands in the Angle, there are necked down or shallow areas causing unsafe ice conditions throughout the entire winter. Knowledge of the area is important.
There is no ice fishing in the NW Angle as of yet, but resorts will communicate when ice fishing begins." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"We are looking forward to the upcoming ice fishing season. We have started to make some ice but haven’t begun fishing yet. We will be checking the ice on the bay in a few days as we watch for open spots. We are anxious to get out fishing and to see all of you but safety must come first.
We will be at the St. Paul Ice Show December 6th – 8th. Stop by the Border View Lodge booth to see Mike and Lisa and say Hi.
We still have some availability this year at Border View Lodge and if you are looking for space for groups from 4-18 people this winter, check out Settlers Point. We have some availability for groups that want to be close to all the action, but have their own quiet place to stay overnight." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Making your bait easier for fish to see definitely increases the number that will come over to look at your offering.
We all know that “lighting up” an ice fishing lure can make a tremendous difference in terms of visibility. But we know too that just lighting up the lure isn’t the only thing that triggers fish to strike. The combination of colors, patterns and natural appearance provide convincing detail that give fish a reason to strike.
Jeff Sundin shares his thoughts about how combining light with subtle changes in colors and patterns helps him put more walleyes on the ice.
View Video and Learn More >> Subtle Glowing Colors Catch More and Bigger Fish Through The Ice
"We will be opening on January 3, 2020 for the ice fishing season with our plowed access open to the public. We have not had any atv or snowmobile traffic to date. Feel free to call for current conditions, 218-246-2560. Thanks!" Rick and Kim Leonhardt Highbanks Resort
"We’ve got ice out in front of Trappers Landing Lodge and the whole main body of Leech is frozen. Currently there is 6 to 8 inches of ice out to Olson's reef (300 yards off shore).
There has been no pressure on the lake in terms of fisherman right now so very limited reports on fish catching around the area. Usually this time of year you do not need to venture out very far to find a walleye, maybe 50 to 60 yards off shore will get us in the right neighborhood.
We will be waiting for some cooler temps and hopefully some thicker ice in the upcoming weeks." — Josh Bullivant, Trappers Landing Lodge (218) 836-2500
"We have our houses out on the ice at Third River of Lake Winnie.
Ice thickness straight out from the landing is at 10 inches, but further east, down at the Clay Banks the ice is only 6 inches thick.
We did get that snow storm over the weekend and our area received got about 5 inches or something like that. Todd has the access road plowed down to the ice and to the pull out shelters. With colder overnight temperatures tonight and into the early part of this week, we should be parking on the ice in a few days.
The water clarity is nice, right now you can make out the bottom out front of the landing in the flowage and visibility seems even a little better down at the clay banks.
The guys that were out this weekend got some fish including 3 that was 11, 8 and 7 pounds along with a few smaller end fish as well. They reported seeing a lot of northern, including one very big one and a couple that they guessed at about 10 pounds.
We have been seeing some panfish too; a mixture of perch, crappie and even some sunnies.
We currently have openings both here at the lodge and in our rentals spear houses. So give us a call if you need a place to stay or just want to try out spearing." — Dixon Lake Resort has shelter rentals, including sleepers. Reservations 218-659-4612
"Our friend, TJ Wilcher at LandBigFish wanted to start the Holidays in grand style and is offering 5 Wired2Fish readers a $50 gift card in our latest giveaway.
LandBigFish.com sells all the top brands including Zoom, Rapala, Strike King, and many more to fill your favorite anglers' gift list. All of your favorite lures and fishing tackle at great prices with a massive selection of new products.
You can check in here for a chance to >> Win a $50 LandBigFish Gift Card. This giveaway ends Dec. 11, 2019. Good luck!