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image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 25, 2019 "Grand Rapids Area Ice Fishing Update"

On December 25, 2019 Frank Bowstring wrote; "Merry Christmas Jeff. How do I listen to your podcasts from KAXE?

Merry Christmas Frank! You can access 2 weeks of archived programs on the KAXE WEBSITE. At their home page, just scroll all the way down to the bottom and click on the text link ARCHIVE, it will take you to this page >>

Use the drop down menu to select the day/date and then use the next drop down to select the hour of that day. For the Early Bird Fishing Guide segments, click on any Thursday and then select the 6:00 AM hour and scroll in to about 6:20 AM. You can use the same procedure to access and listen to any of the most recent broadcasts. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 24, 2019 "Grand Rapids Area Ice Fishing Update"

image of ice fishing shelters My tour of the Grand Rapids area revealed improving travel conditions on some of the area’s most popular panfish lakes.

There’s still evidence of widespread slush under the snow, but the recent spell of warm weather allowed the snow to settle. In areas that have been fished heavily, trails are packed down and have re-frozen. In in-travelled territory, the snow depths have condensed down to about 6 inches.

I saw numerous ice fishing shelters and folks have apparently been travelling unencumbered to them using snowmobiles and ATVs. There was some evidence of light vehicle traffic in a few spots, but the only vehicle that I actually saw on the ice was stuck in slush. So in my judgement, any ice fishing over the upcoming weekend should be accessed either on foot or by snow machine.

There aren’t many folks willing to give specifics about their favorite panfish bites, and I don’t blame them. Word on the street though is that panfish are active and the odds are good that they will remain that way throughout the weekend.

Looking ahead at the forecast, there’s no reason to believe that conditions won’t continue to improve. So if you’ve been sitting on a list of lakes you’d wanted to try, this is probably the time to take a look.

Like many of you, Christmas will take a bite out of my free time, so I’m not sure how much fresh information I’ll have for you over the next few days. But if I do get any new news, I will definitely pass it along.

In the meantime, I wish you and yours safe travels to the Merriest of Merry Christmases! fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to the Pines Resort website Lake Winnibigoshish The Pines Resort December 24, 2019

image of lake winnie perch Ice thicknesses in Tamarack Bay ranges from 12 to 15 inches, with light snow cover. We have not plowed any roads to date and have not begun allowing pickup truck traffic out of our landing. But transportation by ATV or snowmobile is very good and we are open to ice fishing for folks who can travel using snow machines.

The perch action here in the bay continues to be very good and recently, there are a fair number of walleyes showing up in the daily mix too. If the progression tracks the same way it did last winter, it won’t be long before the mix of walleye increases.

We’ve been hoping to nail down the one presentation that “works best.” But the truth is that perch have been aggressive enough to strike most any offering we drop into the hole. Chad has been using Lindy Perch Talkers with good success and other folks have caught fish on a variety of popular jigging lures as well.

We have observed that larger and heavier lures work the best. The secret to catching larger perch is to use lures that drop to the bottom fast. Once you get your bait below the smaller, more aggressive fish, the larger perch have time to home in and strike.  During prime feeding periods of morning and late afternoon, tipping your lures with a minnow head works just fine.

During midday, a lull in the action is your signal to switch to a whole fathead. Using a slower, more lifelike swimming action triggers more strikes during these slower periods.

We won’t have plowed roads open this weekend, but we do have great access to the ice for folks with snow machines. We also have rental shelters available and this year, we’re offering guided ice fishing trips as well. Stop in at the lodge or give us a call for more details.

Merry Christmas everybody, we’ll be looking forward to seeing you after the holiday. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552

image links to wired2fish Wired2Fish December 23, 2019 "How to Drop Shot Walleye Through the Ice"

image links to walleye video "Using a combination of jigging and setlines is a proven 1-2 punch that produces walleyes throughout the ice fishing season.

Mille Lake fishing Guide Tony Roach has adapted his open water drop shot system to target walleyes through the ice. Although jigging can outperform, few anglers will deny the day-in-day-out effectiveness of a lively minnow unable to escape.

Tony shares several reasons why the drop shot rig has become his go-to setline over more traditional setups such as tip-ups and conventional dead sticking with a split shot rig. Roach walks us through the process of ..." Learn More >> How to Drop Shot Walleye Through the Ice

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Fishing Report December 24, 2019

"Northern Pike - With warmer temps this last week, tip up fishing for pike has become very popular with anglers. Large suckers and smelt were a popular choices. Shallow bays and weedlines continue to be the key area to focus on for pike.

Walleye anglers are finally able to enjoy a nice stretch of stable weather and strong jump in the walleye bite and size of fish being caught. Early mornings and evenings have been the best time to catch walleyes. Anglers fishing over sand have also knotted a better average size there, then other spots. Walleye have been hitting jigging raps and rattle spoons, but a dead stick with a living minnow remains a good backup for walleye’s unwillingly to hit the aggressive baits.

Panfish - Crappies have been easy pickings for anglers able to locate them. Crappies are being found near weedbeds, but also over deeper basins. Anglers have been reporting that they are catching bigger crappies 5 to 10 feet under the ice over 20-30 feet of water.

Sunfish are still relating to the shallow weedbeds, but a few are starting to be found out in deeper water mixed in with crappies. For both fish small tungsten jigs or small jigging raps tipped with waxies or plastics have been very effective." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 23, 2019 "A Son's First Solo Fishing Adventure"

image of bluegils on ice I got a text from my neighbor Mike Silvis this weekend. His son Will and a friend had returned from their first unsupervised ice fishing mission to one of the popular panfish lakes near Grand Rapids.

“Will has entered a new phase in his life. First, pick the lake, then pack the gear and buy the bait (plus the food too. Then drive to the lake with his buddy, check ice for safety, catch fish, buy the fixings for fish tacos, then clean the fish, cook the fish and share the meal with those that didn’t go. And most importantly, cleaned up and put gear away.”

Obviously, those are the words of a proud papa and I’m thrilled that Mike thought it important to share them with me.

We talk a lot about the health of fishing and how important it is to involve our kids in it. But if we want to see those efforts bear fruit, then stories about experiences like Will and his buddy’s first non-supervised fishing adventure need to be a lot more common.

In the 1980’s Camp Fish, along with its parent company, In-Fisherman knew that they had a vested interest in nurturing relationships between kids, parents and fishing. During that period, they conducted studies about how those goals could be reached and Mike Silvis just swerved right into one of the conclusions they reached.

If we want kids to participate in fishing, then we need to give them more un-restricted access to it. Those In-Fisherman studies showed that putting on special one-day clinics and youth oriented events is fine. But the kids who really stick with fishing are the ones who have access to do it on their own, with their friends.

I’m a perfect example of how it works. When I was kid, I could ride my bike to the lake, fish for whatever I wanted and do it as long as I wanted. Nobody looked over my shoulder; nobody advertised the experience and nobody judged me by the results of my effort. It was just me catching fish when I could and shrugging it off when I couldn’t.

These days, most kids aren’t allowed out of the house without a security detail and I do understand why. But I do not have to like it and I wish there were a lot more places where kids go fishing by themselves, whenever they want to. And I wish there were a lot more parents like the Silvis’ who allow their kids to go out and do it. In my mind, they are to be congratulated.

The last thing I’ll ever do is suggest that kids be allowed to roam free in dangerous neighborhoods or risky situations. But if you can think of a place where your kids can do a little fishing on their own, try giving them a chance; it’s definitely good for fishing. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism December 23, 2019

"On the south end of Lake of the Woods, fishing reports remain strong. There's a nice mix of eating size walleyes and saugers with some big fish as well. Watch for suspended fish coming through, those are often the nicer size walleyes.

An occasional cold front can slow things a bit but most still catch fish. Most resorts have fish houses out in 26- 30 feet of water.

Best colors, white, gold, pink, gold/pink, chartreuse and glow. Some days the jigging line catches more, other days the deadstick with a live minnow 6" - a foot off the bottom does better. Lots of sturgeon being caught this year, many more than normal. Various ice roads are open, many allowing 1/2 ton trucks with smaller wheel houses. Check ahead as ice road limits vary.

The Rainy River is frozen over but little traffic with higher than usual current. Extra caution is always needed on the river, most sticking to lake so far. No snowmobile trail on Rainy River as of yet with thin ice areas due to current.

Up at the NW Angle, resorts have fish houses out and initial fishing reports for walleyes continue to be good. Some areas of ice still need time with high current. It's a must to check with resort before hitting the ice. Stay on marked trails or know the areas you are traveling. The snowmobile trail from the south end up to the Angle are staked and open. Caution near Minnesota Point as there are cracks, etc. Check NW Angle Edge Riders or Lake of the Woods Drifters snowmobile club page for up to date info."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image links to Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge December 23, 2019

"Holiday Greetings! Fishing continues to be very strong in 26-30 feet of water. Fishing has been steady as we continue to have sturgeon activity and catch limits of take home and eater walleye and sauger. We have also had some nice big fish caught this week.

White seems to be the hot color of the week. Plain chartreuse hooks have been good also.

After dipping down below zero this last week, this week’s forecast shows temps between
14 and 29. As of Saturday 12-21-19, we are now allowing ½ ton trucks or smaller to drive out. Please check on ice conditions before venturing out.

February and March still have some openings if you are wanting to plan a trip. February and March are great times to be on the ice, longer daylight hours and less extreme cold fronts.

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season." 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 20, 2019 "Updating the Update-Able"

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in the office where I can use a real computer that’s connected to real Wi-Fi. Without those luxuries, keeping up with these reports while I’m on the road is difficult. But now that I’m back, I’ll get everything whipped into shape. It will take most of the day to get it all written up, so here’s the most recent updates I have ready and I’ll be working on additional updates throughout the morning. By days end, you’ll know everything that I know.

On our way home from Lake of the Woods this Thursday; we thought it might be fun to try fishing for crappies. Thinking about lakes that were more or less on the return route, we settled on making a stop at Bowstring Lake.

Before we left Baudette, I got in touch with Bill Powell at Fred’s Bait in Deer River. He cautioned about an ice ridge on the south side of Bowstring that prohibits travel out from the south landing and advised me to go out from the north end instead.

When we arrived at the northwest landing, the one located next to Northern Acres Resort, I was amazed by how little traffic there was I the lake. From that vantage point, I could only see one ice shack on the lake and only 2 or 3 old snowmobile tracks in the snow.

One of those tracks contained streaks of Bowstring’s dark colored water, the telltale sign of slush lying beneath the snow. We didn’t like the look of that and we didn’t like not knowing how much more of it might be out there.

After debating the merits of catching a few more fish vs getting our gear stuck in an un-foreseen slush pocket, we opted out. There’s no way for me to know for sure if our decision was the right one. But we just didn’t need those fish bad enough to take any unnecessary risks, so we didn’t.

On my home from Bowstring, I stopped in at Fred’s and talked with Bill again. “Crappie minnow sales are practically non-existent and wax worm sales are way down compared to last winter. Folks around here a finding slush on too many of the small lakes and they’re all worried about it. Almost all of the traffic we have here is guys heading up to Red Lake and Lake of the Woods;” Powell said.

Whatever you do, don’t take this as a sign that there’s nothing to do around the Itasca Region. The slush that affects many of the smaller lakes does not have the same grip on the larger lakes.

Travel conditions on Winnie are reported to be pretty good and I’m hearing the same thing about certain areas on Leech Lake, the south end in particular. Check out the report from Trapper’s Landing Resort for more details about that.

Check back later for more reports, I'll post them as they become available. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to 1000 Lakes Sports — Greater Grand Rapids Lakes Area December 20, 2019

"Things sound like they are slightly improving around the area. Small lakes have decent amounts of ice (6"-12"), but there seems to be more snow cover and in result some slush build up in areas.

The larger lakes are looking to have slightly better travel conditions, but there is much more variation to the ice thickness (4"-10"). Proceeding with caution is still recommended on all the area lakes, and check the ice before you go out!" Andy Walls, 1000 Lakes Sports 218-999-5992

image links to Central Minnesota Ice Fishing Report December 20, 2019

image of bluegills in pail "Recently, we had quite a bit of snow fall in the Northwest Metro area which put a good layer of insulation on the area lakes, but with last week’s frigid temperatures, I felt confident in walkable ice.

“Spuddy” and I checked five lakes in the Sherburne and Wright County areas, all of which had varying ice thicknesses between two and six inches. The smaller shallower lakes had a consistent layer of clear ice across them and the larger, deeper lakes, had clear ice out to about 400 yards and got thinner and cloudier as you approached the deeper drop-offs.

During early season, I like to stick to smaller lakes. I found one just outside of Princeton with a good clear four inches of ice thickness.
Target Species: Panfish

During early ice, I like to drill holes shallow in five to eight foot, and then work my way deeper, where I generally find larger bluegills and crappies roaming. Panfish move throughout the day, and you should too.

Early Season Lures of Choice: Lindy Frostee Jigging Spoons, Lindy Tungsten Toads, and Lindy Tungsten Bugs tipped with red spikes.

Presentation Choices: 18” off the bottom with a two-bounce then jiggle pulse every five to ten seconds or my personal favorite, pounding the bottom and lifting up once I see a fish on the flasher. This yielded a meal of 8 to 10 inch bluegills and a few bonus crappies Saturday.

The biggest factor, other than ice thickness, was the two to three inches of slush on top of the ice. If you opened a hole up with your auger, it made the area a little soggier, so I would advise using ice cleats if you venture out.

If you’re thinking about hitting the ice, make sure you take your “Spuddy” along, some ice cleats, a float suit (or life jacket), some ice picks (secured to your float suit or clothing), and use the drop back buddy method (one person 20 to 40 feet behind the other).

With the below freezing temperatures we had this week, paired with the mid-30 degree weather in the forecast for this weekend, the ice in the Northwest Metro should see more anglers this weekend. Be Safe!" — Shane Boeshart, Sherburne County • Wright County Region 641-529-0270

image links to Leech Lake, Trappers Landing Lodge December 20, 2019

"We are starting to plow on the main lake and we are finding 11-16 inches of ice. We are still having to cross a lot of cracks and numerous news one formed this past couple of days with the subarctic air.

We will not be open to vehicle traffic due to the large amount of cracks and will be allowing our ice road to heal. We will be open the day after Christmas for vehicle and Ice House Traffic.

The walleye bite has been strong for the anglers heading out on their ATV or snowmobiles in 18-25 ft of water. The typical jigging spoons with a minnow head or a set line down with a shiner have been producing fish in the twilight hours.

Everyone is excited to get out, just give it a few days for waiting, have a Merry Christmas and see you on the ice." Josh Bullivant, Trappers Landing Lodge (218) 836-2500

image links to Leech Lake, Oak Point Resort December 20, 2019

"I haven't been on the lake for a week, so I'm sorry that I don't have a firsthand report. But, I can see from the resort that there's still lots of snow and very few houses on Leech, 4 wheelers or snowmobiles are the only way to travel." Lee Nupson, Oak Point Resort 218-335-2993

image denotes link to fish rapper article Walker, Longville, Remer, Grand Rapids Area Ice Fishing Report December 20, 2019

"Leech Lake ice conditions are moving along in the right direction for much of the lake. The main lake has up to 14 inches of ice in certain spots but still has a as little as 8 inches with pockets of slush in others. Walker Bay has 6 to 10 inches, however heavy slush towards the North end by Sand Point.

Smaller bodies of water in the Remer, Longville, Hackensack, Walker, Park Rapids area have snow covered ice with a considerable amount of slush pockets up to 8” thick. Whereas the ice itself is varying anywhere from 4-12 inches so take heed and use extreme caution when venturing out.

The walleye are aggressive and the bite is in full swing right now! Jigging Spoons tipped with a minnow head has been the ticket this past week, but don’t forget the dead stick as that has been bringing in a few too, especially later in the evening after “prime-time” passes." — Justin & Alice Wiese, Wheezy Guide Service 218-275-7525

image links to Lake Winnibigoshish Dixon Lake Resort December 20, 2019

"Out on the Third River of Lake Winnie things are shaping up. Finally got drivable ice at the clay banks. Now at 12+ inches. About 5 or 6 inches of snow on the ice.

Water clarity is a little better. Seeing down about 6 foot at times as this changes through out the day. Northern are running and seeing quite s few each day. Sunnies, crappies and nice jumbo perch are being caught in and around spear houses as well.

Good luck and have fun!" — Dixon Lake Resort has shelter rentals, including sleepers. Reservations 218-659-4612

image links to fishrapper.comOn Lake Winnibigoshish, Tamarack Lodge December 20, 2019

"Ice conditions are improving in Tamarack Bay with a pretty consistent 12 to 15 inches of ice.

We are still limiting access to ATV, UTV and snowmobiles due to weaker ice conditions at the access points caused by the volume of water flowing out of the dam. We anticipate light truck travel after Christmas provided conditions continue to improve. Travel in the bay is good on ATV or Snowmobile with only occasional spots of slush due to live cracks opening with the formation of new ice.

Perch fishing has been decent in 11 to 15 feet of water off of plughat shoreline and along the river channel. Lots of small walleyes mixed in. Clear water in the normal spearing locations has been tougher to find due to current through the dam."— Tamarack Lodge 218-246-8515

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 19, 2019 "We're On Our Way Home"

Our fishing trip to Lake of the Woods is completed and we’re on our way home this morning.

In the area we fished these past few days, there were not a lot of large fish present, but there were a few. I think we caught a couple walleye over 20 inches and a few in the 18 to 19 inch range. Ironically, the first fish we caught on Monday was the largest one of the trip; that was in the 28 inch neighborhood.

Still, I thought the trip was a good one in terms of catching fish, especially if we measure success by how many “eater” size fish we caught. There were plenty of walleyes in the 14 to 16-inch range and a handful of decent size sauger too. All of us will be having family fish fries for Christmas.

On Tuesday, there were some new cracks forming along the south shore and on Wednesday there were crews on the ice setting bridges and exploring for problem areas. Here at Zippel Bay, we didn’t hear any bad news about nearby ice conditions. But there were some hints about trouble spots both to the east and to the west of us.

Overall though, the ice conditions are shaping up very nicely. There's hardly any snow cover and the ice thickness already range between 14 and 17 inches. I don’t want to tempt Mother Nature, but if she stays in a good mood, this could turn out to be a really good year for travel conditions up here.

It sounds like they still plan to allow light trucks to drive on the roads out of Zippel this weekend. They do not plan to allow any wheel-houses onto the ice from here, that probably won’t happen until after Christmas.

I’ll be looking forward to getting back to my office where the wi-fi connection is stronger. It’s been tough to keep up with the reports on my cheap, Ukrainian laptop. I’ll do my best to post some fresh regional updates before the weekend.

If you have a few words to share about conditions in your area, drop me a line. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 18, 2019 "Don’t try to understand ‘em, just set the hook and land ‘em!" - The Hula Poppers; Walleye Song

Whenever I come to Lake of the Woods, I am a tourist. I don’t fish here often enough to consider myself an expert about anything, it’s just too much water to learn thoroughly. So instead of spending my time trying to “figure out” where to fish, I defer to anglers who either work here, or at least spend a lot of time “playing” here.

That said, I have been fishing here long enough to become an educated observer. And my most recent observation is that when it comes to ice fishing on Lake of the Woods, there are two things that an angler must know to be consistent 100% of the time.

And nobody knows what they are, so don’t worry about it, just get your bait in the water and fish.

I’m discovered that whatever I think I know from fishing in my home territory can get thrown out the window up here. This lake does not follow the rules, fish bite when they shouldn’t and don’t bite when you’d think they should. The harder one works at trying to understand it, the less likely it seems that they ever will.

On Monday, the fishing wasn’t awesome, but we did do well. We caught a reasonable number of eating size fish, plus a lot of smaller ones and some that were above average. We speculated that if it hadn’t been so sunny, the action would have been better; at least that was theory.

On Tuesday, the sun was shining bright, the air temperature was frigid, and the wind was blowing like crazy. According to the rules, the fishing action should have slowed down; but it didn’t. In fact, the fishing was better for us, both in terms of quality and quantity.

We were fishing within sight of the spot we fished on Monday, albeit a little bit deeper. Our depth Tuesday was 22 feet vs the 20-foot depth we fished the day before.

There were enough fish sightings on our electronics to hold our attention, so despite conversations about moving, we never did. We just capitalized on whichever wave of fish moved through at random intervals.

When you’re sitting still on a single spot on a million-acre lake, the only way you can gain any advantage is through your presentation. If there was any scientific element about our trip, that was it.

I relied on the large, ½ ounce Glow Streak and jigged it aggressively to call fish into the area from a distance. Most of the time, fish that appeared on my Hummingbird struck that lure, but occasionally, one of them needed more convincing. Dropping in a more subtle lure was the trick for triggering those neutral fish and the ¼ ounce gold Quiver Spoon tipped with a whole minnow was good for that job.

Ice conditions here on the south end of the lake are generally very good right now. There are areas with ice thickness of about 16 inches, but there are still some 13 inch areas, along with a few small cracks and pressure ridges.  

According to Nick here at Zippel Bay yesterday morning, the road was scheduled be open for light trucks this weekend. But unofficial accounts at the lodge last night were that trucks may be allowed on the ice as early as today. Don’t take my word for it though, make the phone call ahead of time just to be sure.

We’re on our way back out to see what surprises the lake has in store for us today. Hopefully, I’ll gain a greater understanding of both rule 1 and rule 2. If not, we’ll just move and drill more holes. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Fishing Report December 18, 2019

"Ice Conditions - Ice conditions continue to improve slowly this last week, but slush is starting to become a issue as snow piles up on area lakes. 10-14 inches of good ice is being reported on many area lakes. Anglers have begone to plow roads on area lakes.

Panfish - Panfish bite has been very consistent this last week. Anglers have been catching nice limits of crappies and sunfish. Sunfish are being caught in 10 feet of water or less on small jigs tipped with wax worms, while crappies are being caught in 15-20 feet of water on crappie minnows or jigging raps.

Walleye - Walleye fishing slowed this last week. Anglers reported marking fewer fish during the evening hours, but still managed to get a fish or two to bring home. Jigging raps or rippin raps have been effective at calling in walleyes, but it’s the dead stick that it catching the fish the majority of the time. Key depths remain 18-23 feet of water.

Pike - Pike anglers have been having good success this last week with the majority of anglers reporting good numbers , but small average size. Large suckers fished under a tip up continue to be very popular way to catch fish. Shallow bays with a water coming into the lake continue to be the best areas to fish with tip ups." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 17, 2019 "Lake of the Woods Ready, Set, Go!"

Our return to shore after fishing on Lake of the Woods on this Monday gave me the sense that I was at the starting gate of a race.

There were dozens of pickup trucks parked at Lighthouse Gap while their owners were being shuttled home from various ice rental shelters by Zippel Bay staff.

There were other staff out on the ice placing more shelters which will accommodate even more anglers today. That scene will repeat itself every day this week, they’ll be staking out more roads, adding more ice shelters and by the weekend, the ice fishing operation at Zippel Bay should be in nearly full swing.

Like I said, most of the traffic we saw on Monday were folks being shuttled to and from rental shelters. Anybody else I saw on that area of the lake was traveling by snowmobiles. There just enough snow on the ice to make travel by snow machine pretty much unrestricted if you stay close to the shoreline. Until the resort roads are open, that’s the best way to get around.

We were cautioned about some areas further out and to the west where the ice had cracked a few days ago. We didn’t venture away from the areas that have already been fished. We can ease into fresh territory later, after there’s been more reconnaissance.

The area we did fish was about 20 to 22 feet deep and not far west of Lighthouse Gap. There were fish on screens for most of the morning and many of them were “biters”, then there was another spurt of action around 4:00 PM. But from about 12:00 to 3:00 PM, there was a significant dead spot in the action.

Most fish were small, ranging in size from 10 to 13 inches, but there were a handful of larger ones, 14 to 17 inches in the mix, along with one really big fish that Nate caught. Other anglers reported similar experiences, everybody that wanted to eat fish was able to catch enough keepers to make that happen.

I was reminded of some conversations I had with folks at the St. Paul Ice Show about the sizes of lures to use for ice fishing. A lot of people I talked to were surprised by the large size of the lures that I suggested for them to try. Lots of folks are just more comfortable using smaller offerings, but yesterday was a perfect example of how using larger lures can be a better idea.

Nate was using the largest size Quiver Spoon, the ¼ ounce size and I was using the ½ ounce Glow Streak. Neither of us had any problem triggering strikes from small fish at all. In fact, I caught upwards of a dozen fish in the 10 to 12-inch range and they showed no sign of fear for the larger profile lure.

I believe that if there’s a big fish in the neighborhood, the larger profile lures will be more in line with their feeding preferences and the odds of catching a trophy gets better. That’s especially true on lakes like this one, where there are big fish that could come along at almost any time of the day. So when you think about it, there’s really nothing to lose, tie on a larger lure and you’ll still catch plenty of smaller size fish and as a bonus your chances of getting a trophy will be even better.

We’re on our way back onto the ice right now, so I’ll have more news tomorrow. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 16, 2019 "Opening Day Of Ice Fishing On Lake of the Woods"

For me, the ice fishing season is about to start in about 2 hours.

Before we piled into the cabin at Lake of the Woods last night, we talked with a few folks who’ve been fishing the lake this weekend. Reports about the fishing action were spotty, but everyone agreed that the ice is getting good out there.

In the area where we’ll be fishing, west of Zippel Bay, there’s said to be one foot of ice. Most travel is by ATV and Snowmobile, some of the guides and rental operators are using trackers, there are also some anglers using Sno-Bears. We did not hear of anyone travelling anywhere by pickup trucks so far.

They tell us that the fishing action "hasn’t been bad", but nobody that we heard from was bragging about fantastic catches either.

According to some of the locals, that's because there’s a narrow crack in the ice preventing anglers from reaching the area where the action has been best. We’ll be learning more about all of that firsthand today.

Obviously, I’ll know a lot more 12 hours from now than I do at the moment, so I’ll cut it short here and pick up with a fresh batch of info on Tuesday morning.

In the meantime, you can check out the current report from Borderview just below as well. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge December 16, 2019

"Away we go! Currently we are in 23-27 feet of water. Action has been steady for the most part, we had some houses in shallow and we had moving ice issues there. Blocking holes and probably making noise. Those are moved deeper now and away from the ice moving under the top layer.

We have had a lot of Sturgeon activity so far. We are seeing a mix of Walleye and Sauger with it being a bit heavier on the Sauger right now. Nice eater size fish with great limits of take home with some appetizers or dinner after the first day.

So far white and gold have been really good. The Wonder Bread color is a good one to have. Fish are at the bottom so it is not as necessary to have electronics, especially if you are working your bait all of the time.

The forecast is showing temps from 15 above to -15 this week.

December and January have a few openings if you are wanting to plan a trip. We have more availability in February and March which are great times to be on the ice, longer daylight hours and less extreme cold fronts." 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge

image links to the Pines Resort website Lake Winnibigoshish The Pines Resort December 15, 2019

image of perch caught on winnie The ice in Tamarack Bay is getting good, thickness ranges from 12 to 15 inches depending on where we check. There’s some snow on the ice, but travel by ATV and Snowmobile are okay.

We’ve avoided plowing roads so far, because the Mississippi River channel was slow to freeze. But if conditions continue to improve, we’re hoping to get some roads opened up before Christmas.

We have put a few of our rental shacks on the ice already and the early season perch fishing is off to a great start. We had groups on the ice this Saturday and they didn’t have much trouble catching limits of nice size perch.

There have been a few walleyes in the mix too, but here in the bay, folks aren’t really targeting them very much yet because the perch bite is too good.

The best walleye reports are from folks who have been fishing out on the main lake, along the first breakline into deep water. Fish of all shapes and sizes are in the mix out there, but fish from the amazing 2018 year class dominate the action. Most of those fish are still small by most people’s standards, but we’ve heard of some 12 inchers making their way to the frying pan.

We think it would be really nice to hold off keeping too many of those fish until next winter. But at a meeting with the DNR Fisheries staff last week, they didn’t express too much concern about a small portion of those fish leaving the system right now. “There’s just so many fish in this 2018 year class they we don’t believe harvesting a few of them will impact the population significantly.” One fisheries official said.

For now, we’ll continue to focus on the great perch bite!

If you’d like to join us, we do have rental shelters available and winter lodging too. Check your calendar and give us a call. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552

image links to Leech Lake, Trappers Landing Lodge December 15, 2019

"I’m pretty impressed with how good the daytime action has been for walleyes on Leech Lake.” That was the assessment I got from Josh Bullivant at Trappers Landing on the south side of Leech Lake last Friday. “Perch fishing hasn’t been bad either”; Bullivant said.

Bullivant; “The ice thickness is something like 11 to 12 inches out in front of the resort, but there’s a crack out there someplace and I haven’t been able to locate it. We’re worried that somebody will find it by accident, so we’ve shied away from doing any serious plowing. For now, we’re advising folks that fishing is foot travel only.”

Conditions are improving fast though and the plan is to have plows running and roads open for next weekend. So unless there’s a full-scale weather interruption, Trappers Landing should be full open for business on Saturday December 21, 2019." Josh Bullivant, Trappers Landing Lodge (218) 836-2500

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 13, 2019 "Innovative Gifts For Ice Anglers"

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.

image of ice fishing innovations rod box The Ice Fishing Innovations Rod Case is the heaviest duty, hardest working rod box that I've ever seen. I got mine a year ago and used it throughout last winter and it is absolutely rock solid!

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

image of lithium 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 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

image of norsk fishing brack pack 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

image links to fishing video Stocking Stuffers

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? fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image reader comments Reader Comments December 12, 2019 "Is Technology Destroying Ice Fishing?"

image of ice fishing electronics "Regarding an article in the new 2020 In-Fisherman Ice Guide, Jeff Heeman, Manistique, Michigan Emailed; “Dan Johnson wrote an article titled Tactical Trends; he mostly wrote about you.

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

image of jeff sundin 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.

image of dnr news release News Release December 13, 2019 Minnesota to launch new Outdoor Recreation Task Force

"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 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."

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 11, 2019 "Planning the Plan-Able"

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. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image denotes link to fish rapper article Walker, Longville, Remer, Grand Rapids Area Ice Fishing Report December 11, 2019

"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

image links to On Lake Winnibigoshish Becker's Resort December 11, 2019

"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

image links to Lake Winnibigoshish Dixon Lake Resort December 11, 2019

"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

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Fishing Report December 10, 2019

"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

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism December 10, 2019

image of girl with walleye "Ice fishing has begun on the south end of Lake of the Woods!

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

image links to Bowstring Lake, Northern Acres Resort December 10, 2019

"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

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report December 10, 2019

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. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL 1211

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report December 4, 2019 "Minnesota Quality Bluegill Initiative Update"

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. fish smiley image — 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?

News Release December 4, 2019 "Lake Winnibigoshish Walleye Meeting Tonight"

image links to meeting announcement 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

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism December 3, 2019

image of baudette area forecast "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

image links to Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge December 2, 2019

"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

December 3, 2019 "Subtle Glowing Colors Catch More and Bigger Fish Through The Ice"image links to crappie fishing video

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

image links to Lake Winnibigoshish Highbanks Resort December 3, 2019

"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

image links to Leech Lake, Trappers Landing Lodge December 2, 2019

"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

image links to Dixon Lake Resort December 2, 2019

"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