" Lake trout fishing was slow overall last week. Anglers that had good success, caught fish in 25-35 feet of water on 3/8 to 1/2 oz bucktails, tipped with a gulp minnow or minnow. Tip ups also accounted for a good number of lakers caught. Dead suckers or dead smelt laid right on the bottom accounted for just about all the lakers caught with tip ups.
Stream trout fishing has remained good on many of the stream trout lakes in the area. Angling pressure continues to be high, but anglers that have down sized their baits and tipped them with just a minnow head or wax worm, have continued to catch trout.
Northern Pike anglers have been few and far between, but those who have pursued them have been reporting good to excellent fishing this last week. Medium to large suckers fished under a tip up, on weedlines, has been very effective for anglers.
Panfish - Crappies and sunnies continue to found in 20-30 feet of water, on many of the area lakes. Anglers should be looking for soft mud bottoms, where panfish are eating bugs coming up out of the mud. Popular colors this last week, were green and pink jigs tipped with a small wax worm or crappie minnows.
Walleye fishing has remained slow overall as several fronts went through the area last week. Anglers are reporting that they are seeing walleyes on their cameras, but the walleyes have showed little interest in biting.
Deadsticking a minnow in 20-25 feet of water, during the evening hours, has accounted for just about all the walleyes caught last week." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
Most walleye anglers do their best to get in on the early ice season. There's no doubt that on many inland waters, the first wave of early ice action is as good as it gets. But don't give up on "deep-freeze walleyes", they're still providing some great action for persistent anglers.
Just because it turns cold, doesn't mean that walleyes turn off. Often times, sub-zero temperatures also happen to coincide with extended periods of stability and stable weather is what fish love. Stable weather patterns are the key to a consistent bite. This is equally true for ice anglers looking to target walleye during the “DEEP FREEZE” months of January and February.
Follow Jon Thelen as he explains a few adjustments you can make to catch more walleye during a cold snap. View Video to Learn More >> Mid-Winter Deep Freeze Walleye
"As the season progresses, anglers are following the walleyes around the south end of Lake of the Woods, which in their typical winter pattern, are moving further from shore.
Walleyes and saugers are being caught in 30 to 33 feet of water and there is a mix of different size fish being caught with sorting taking place to find the keepers.
Jigging with lures with a rattle or vibration has been effective in both catching and attracting fish. Use a deadstick as your second line. Normally a jig or plain hook with a live minnow under a bobber just off of the bottom will work well.
Electronics are helpful to show suspended fish as well as how fish are reacting to your presentation. Some bait shops and resorts will rent units for the day. Popular lure colors in the stained waters, gold, glow colors, and bright colors like pink. Some trophy fish over 28 inches and slot fish 19.5 to 28 inches continue to be caught.
The Rainy River continues to produce some nice walleyes with mornings and evenings being best. Ice fishing conditions on areas of the river vary greatly as there is moving water. We encourage guests who don't know the river to work through a resort for safety. The snowmobile trail on the river from Baudette to Wheeler's Point to the NW Angle staked and groomed.
There are some nice walleyes and saugers being caught up at the Northwest Angle. Perch, eelpout, pike and tullibees are mixed in as well. Most fish are located on structure, morning and evenings the best while picking at the fish throughout the day.
If fishing deep mud, better daytime bite. Ripping Raps or jigging spoons with a rattle tipped with a piece of minnow head or tail working well. Plain hook with a live minnow on deadstick.
With the border closure, there are three ways to travel to the NW Angle without crossing the border. 1. NW Angle Guest Ice Road is open! 2. Snowmobile trails across the lake are open. 3. Lake of the Woods Passenger Service (bombardier). Communicate with your favorite Northwest Angle resort for specifics." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"We are out past the 12-mile mark from Pine Island on to Big Traverse Bay. Fishing continues to be excellent. We continue to catch a mix of little ones and big ones. Take home fish are 14-18” for Walleye and the normal 12 and up for Sauger.
As usual, use glow red and gold colors while having a lively minnow on a plain hook on one rig and something active jigging with noise through the bottom 6-8 feet of the water column is a best tactic. Clam, glow Rattlin’ Blade Spoon are working well. Electronics are definitely helping to show large suspended fish and schools of Tullibee cruising through.
This week shows some below zero temps to start off at -20 and then into the 20’s towards the weekend." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"Minnesotans can apply to serve on committees that advise the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources about fisheries and wildlife topics.
The DNR seeks to fill open seats on the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee (MLFAC), and the Minnesota R3 Council.
MLFAC is the stakeholder group that advises the DNR on fisheries management for Mille Lacs Lake. Seats are available for a business representative and multiple at-large members. The advisory committee has representation from resorts, guides and other businesses; property owners; county government; DNR work groups that focus on walleye, bass, and northern pike and muskellunge; and other members of the public.
The group was established in 2015 to enhance two-way dialogue between the DNR and stakeholders about Mille Lacs Lake fisheries management.
The R3 Council is the public’s voice for recruiting, retaining, and reactivating hunters and anglers in Minnesota. Following a suggestion at a 2016 “R3 summit,” the DNR formed an advisory council to develop effective R3 strategies tailored for Minnesota. The group is guiding development of the first statewide R3 plan and includes representation from natural resources and community organizations, outdoor skills and education providers, local governments, and other members of the public.
The DNR will accept applications for both MLFAC and the R3 Council through Monday, Feb. 22. Committee and application information is available on the DNR’s MLFAC page and the R3 Council page. Applicants should review the charter for the group they are interested in joining – available on the respective application pages – and fill out an online application.
Members will serve two- to three-year terms and must commit to attending a majority of the committee’s quarterly meetings, which are currently conducted via videoconference. Each team and its work will benefit Minnesotans from all parts of the state and people of all backgrounds and geographies are encouraged to apply. Members will be selected with special emphasis on increasing committee diversity.
The application form also provides an opportunity to apply for other fisheries and wildlife advisory groups, such as the Deer Advisory Committee, that do not have seats currently open. Applications received on a rolling basis for these other communities will be reviewed as additional seats open up."
"Crappies and bluegills were schooled up together this week on the lake I happened to pull up on this past Wednesday. I had walked to one spot and drilled eight holes from the 20-foot depth down to 8 foot near shoreline and dropped my camera down each hole. It seemed like an isolated underwater desert, not a fish in sight.
I walked about a mile or so across the lake to another shoreline and approached it the same way as the first site. The third hole was in 16 foot of water and the crappies decided they wanted to be movie stars, crowding around my camera in a mass hoard! I pulled the camera, got my Vexilar FLX-30, two rods, and headed to the hole.
Barometric pressure was at 30.10 in HG so I started light using a 1/32 oz. Tungsten Toad in pink glow with a single spike. Fish gawked at it and it wasn’t long before the first crappie hit the ice at nine inches long. I iced a few more and noticed that they were feeding well suspended 5 feet off the bottom, so I put on a larger plastic. They like a high lift and slow fall. Seeing a streak of red come from below the jig and line going slack, I knew the fish made contact, and set the hook. This was the norm the rest of the day.
If you’re getting out this weekend to target crappies or bluegills, I suggest you take along a camera, like an Aqua-Vu, to scout your areas before you drop bait down the hole. It saved me a lot of guess work and prevented me from getting that goose egg I heard a lot about when I reached the shore and showed off my pale of delicious panfish. I shared the information with the folks headed out noting the depth and presentations they had been keying in on so they could get in on some action as well for the afternoon.
I haven’t heard much on the walleye bite this week, and I haven’t been out targeting them lately. It has been a lot of “short” fish from the report at Tales and Trails in Zimmerman from all local walleye lakes (Green Lake, Big Lake, Blue Lake). The weekend may be a little different as the barometer is projected to be falling, thus, hopefully turning on the bite for the larger fish.
A rattle bait, like the Lindy Glow Spoon, tipped with a minnow head will bring the fish in and bite, but I’d also have a dead stick nearby with a shiner or fathead on it, as that seems to be where the fish will turn to during a blue-sky day.
As always, reach out for any additional information, be safe on the ice, and use the buddy system! Good Luck!" Shane Boeshart, 641-529-0270
"With a vast array of species, techniques, and variables, ice fishing is one of the most gear-intensive methods in the sport of fishing (product links at the bottom).
With all that gear comes the need to be well prepared and organized in order to maximize success on ice. Wired2Fish staff McKeon Roberts is a total ice nerd with a collection of ice gear that is borderline unnecessary but as he explains, everything has a purpose and is always on hand wherever the chase leads him.
McKeon's arsenal revolves around a deep tackle bag that houses a variety of on-ice necessities including headlamps, tools, ice picks, bait pucks, and ..." Learn More >> 8 Storage Tips For Your Ice Fishing Gear
"Walleyes and sauger are sliding into a bit deeper water on the south end of Lake of the Woods, with 26 to 30 feet being where most are fishingl Good numbers of fish continue to be caught with a lot of sorting the future small fish in the system and choosing just the right ones for a fish fry.
Make some noise! Jigging with lures with a rattle or vibration has been effective in both catching and attracting fish. Use your second line, use as a deadstick, a jig or plain hook with a live minnow under a bobber set at 6 inches to a foot off of the bottom.
Electronics are helpful to show fish, how they are reacting to your presentation and when they are suspended. Popular lure colors are gold, glow red, glow white, pink and green. Nice numbers of walleyes over 28 inches caught this week. Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, big pike, tullibees, eelpout and even an occasional crappie or sturgeon being caught on Big Traverse Bay.
Ice fishing on areas of the Rainy River continue to produce some walleyes during the mornings and evenings. As ice conditions vary greatly on the river as there is moving water, we encourage guests who don't know the river to work through a resort for safety. The snowmobile trail on the river from Baudette to Wheeler's Point to the NW Angle is open.
Note: The ice road leading into the Northwest Angle is now open, guests with reservations at lodges and resorts located in the angle can use the road for a fee. With the continuation of Canada's border closure, there are 3 more ways to travel to the NW Angle without crossing the border. 1. Snowmobile trails across the lake are open. 2. Lake of the Woods Passenger Service (bombardier). 3. Lake Country Air. Click this link for more information about the >> Northwest Angle Ice Road.
Walleyes, saugers and jumbo perch with an occasional pike, eelpout, or tullibee in the mix up at the NW Angle. 22-27' has been the goto depth for most anglers. No surprise, pink and gold have been hot colors, a LOW favorite with the stained waters. Communicate with your favorite NW Angle resort for specifics." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"We are out past the 10-mile mark from Pine Island on to Big Traverse Bay. Fishing has been excellent. The catch rate has been high with many littles ones to sort through. A good number of trophies Walleyes for catch and release were in action again this past week. Its great when there is time to put on a jacket for a picture with your trophy Walleye, but not your shoes or boots!
Continuing to use the glow red and gold colors while having a lively minnow on a plain hook on one rig and something active jigging with noise through the bottom 6-8 feet of the water column is a best tactic. Electronics are definitely helping to show large suspended fish and schools of Tullibee cruising through.
This week shows some normal January temps with single digit highs and below zero days." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
"Ice conditions: still vary across the Northland. We have found as little as 8 inches on deeper larger bodies, but average ice across the area is ranging from 13’ to 20’ of “good and solid” ice. There are a few slush pockets since the warmer weather has started, but nothing too concerning. We do highly advise people to be careful around ice heaves with all the above average temps we have had lately, and always remember, “NO ICE IS EVER SAFE ICE!”
Walleyes: Walley fishing has continued to improve across the area. Key areas to focus on are sunken humps and weed edges. In deeper, or heavy structured lakes, like Leech, the rocks are producing some bigger fish using either jigging spoons or set lines with shiner minnow or Light Pike Suckers.
Panfish: Crappies and Bluegills have been great along weed points. Finding the “green weeds” where still prevalent is going to lead to higher success.
The basins are holding big circulating schools, but big the edges of those basins are producing the more active (and biggest) ones. Try small jigging spoons tipped with a waxie. If they still seem a bit reluctant, tie on a small tungsten jig with either a Clam Maki Plastic or Silkie.
Remember: TOUT OPENER IS THIS WEEKEND!!!! Here are some tips if you are heading out!
Lake Trout: Try depths of 30’ – 60’ of water. Particularly focusing on points, inside turns, deep humps and funnel areas. Lake Trout are a predator fish, these locations are prime areas in which they “push” baitfish into prior to feeding. 3” to 6” white, chartreuse, or pink tube jigs are some of the top choices, not to mention your heavy jigging spoon like the Clam Super Leech Spoon. But don’t forget about any lipless cranks, like a Rippin’ Rap or a Live Target. These have been doing quite well for us in recent years. Not only in producing numbers but size as well!
Rainbow, Brookes, and Browns: Try shallow areas with fallen trees or heavy structure along shoreline in 4’ to 8’ of water. If the lake has a shallow underwater point that has deeper water on both sides that will be best. Small spoons tipped with waxies or plastics is a great option.
Get outdoors, make memories, and bring the young ones along! They are the future of our sport! Above all, get out there and "Break the Chain of Routine!" Cheers!" — Justin & Alice Wiese, Wheezy Guide Service 218-275-7525
Northern Minnesota’s recent run of unnaturally nice weather appears to be fading out. But even after the incoming storm runs its course, weekend forecasts appear to favor another busy weekend on area lakes.
The open question now is whether access to area lakes will be more restricted by the weekend. With light snow cover, folks have gotten used to driving their pickup trucks on most of the popular lakes. 3 to 6 inches of snow could increase their dependence on plowed roads provided by resorts and rental operators.
If snow does cause travel restrictions, then Winnibigoshish is liable to be the hot spot for north central Minnesota anglers. The system of plowed roads there is better than anything you will find on most other lakes. Fishing reports from Winnie have been “good enough” to attract abnormally large crowds this winter, so if you are looking for peace and quiet, you’ll need a snowmobile to get away from the roads.
Fishing pressure, especially during winter, always takes a toll on fishing action. And reports like this one, from Dixon Lake Resort make me think that a slowdown is headed our way. DLR; “The Third River is getting hit pretty hard, and still producing some nice fish. You must look for them, but the crappie bite lasts about a half hour (each day). Nice perch, walleyes and the spearing is still in full swing. Ice is at 17 inches thick with about 4 inches of snow on top. Third River road is plowed.” Good luck and have fun fishing.
Early season anglers had no choice but to fish Winnie’s shallow bays and flowages. But now that there are roads leading further out into mid-lake areas, those seeking fresh territory are better off shifting in that direction. A note from Kim at High Banks Resort says, “Plowed ice roads are open and wheelhouses and truck travel welcome. Spots plowed for wheelhouses. No reservations required.
Ice conditions are 16 to 18 inches of ice, with 6 inches of snow cover as of today. Best bite in 16 to 20 feet of water for perch, pike and walleye, using minnows.”
Bill Powell let me borrow some paraphrased comments from his recent Fred’s Bait post, “Lynne and I went out from the High Banks Resort onto big Winnie. Roads were nice and wide with only a few rough spots, just enough to slow everyone down.
We chose a little hump off to the side where we felt comfortable driving off road. We set up in 18 feet of water, I’m not going to say we set the world on fire, I think our total was 8 Perch and 7 Walleye to come through the hole.”
For me, crappies have filled my dance card this week. They’ve been catchable, but there surely has not been a “hot bite” going on. Over the past couple of days, there wasn’t a lot of new news about crappies. If you check out the reports from January 12, 2021 and January 6, 2021, you’ll get up-to-date information from each of them.
One thing I mentioned last Tuesday, bears repeating. The fish we’re catching have been nomadic, roaming flats in water depths of 23 to 25 feet. They appear as singles and doubles, so hole hopping, looking for big schools of fish has been a waste of time.
Large lures, like the 1/8-ounce Glow Spoon you see in the accompanying image are working better, than small size tungsten lures or blade baits. Over the past couple of days, there was an even split in the number of fish caught using minnows vs the ones caught using wax worms. I’ve been alternating between the two, giving every fish a chance to make up their own minds about a preference.
For today, running errands and catching up on paperwork will allow me to keep an eye on the weather. I’m cautiously optimistic that the incoming wither weather won’t pose a big problem and I’ll post an update tomorrow morning with a forecast for the weekend.
Just so you know, I invite a lot of people to share reports from around Minnesota. In fact, on Monday, I invited over 50 resorts, bait shops and rental operators to share a few words about fishing conditions in their areas. The response wasn’t impressive, but it could have been, if they thought that you cared about hearing from them.
These days, folks think that all they have to do is post a note on the social pages and everyone in the world sees it. To be sure, their notes are read by some people, but they miss out on a lot of readers. If you’re a frequent reader of these reports and there’s an area you’re interested in, then do all of your fellow anglers a favor. Mention to your favorite resort, bait shop of fishing shelter rental operator that you’d like to see an occasional update from them.
Everyone is welcome, everyone is invited, and everyone receives credit for the reports they provide. All it takes is a few minutes to email. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Fish are scattered all around on the lakes this week. Searching became the norm for almost everyone I spoke to looking for walleyes and bluegills. Many anglers found the bite to be “tough” when fish were located. After checking the forecast and seeing it was full of high barometric pressure, I rigged up a few set-ups that have always treated me well and set out to put them to work.
Bluegills: I like to use the smallest jig I can get away with during high barometric pressure days, but I want it to get down to the bottom as quick as I can get it. Lindy 1/32 oz. Tungsten Toads in Glow Pink are my favorite to use because they have a smaller profile, and they get down to the fish hugging the bottom, quickly. The reason tungsten is preferred over the 1/32 oz. lead version is because tungsten is denser than lead and takes less of the metal to create the same weight, thus creating a smaller profile.
I tip the jig with one spike, wax worm, or small plastic. Once the bait gets to the bottom, I don’t move it much, I let the natural beat of my heart pulse the bait as the fish are lethargic due to the high barometric pressure. It may take a couple of fish on your electronics to understand how they’re reacting, but once you see what they want, you’ll be rewarded!
Walleyes: Many people have chuckled at me over the years when they see a panfish sized jig in my walleye set up, but it sure works for the days the barometer is above 30 inches of Hg. My choice of jig, the 1/16th Oz. Firetiger Lindy Frostee Jigging Spoon. It has a rather slow fall to the bottom as well as a tumbling motion that walleyes like to investigate. I tip each of the barbs on the treble with one red spike each. From my experience this gets them to bite the jig better than a minnow head on high barometer days. The preferred method for this jig is just a slow lift two to three feet off the bottom with a quick drop of the rod tip to let the jigging spoon do its work.
As a Vexilar user, I always love seeing the green, to yellow, to red mark show up towards the bottom. Once I see that red mark, I slow my presentation down to one foot lift and drops to see how the fish react, usually resulting in a strike by smaller, eater sized fish. The larger walleyes tend to move slowly to the bait and like it barely moving, similar to bluegills. It is a method I’ve been using for years and has always produced success!
Going into the weekend, the barometric pressure looks to be lower and the temperatures will be stable, so the bite should be a little easier for anglers around Central Minnesota for most target species.
As always, reach out for any additional information, be safe on the ice, and use the buddy system!" Shane Boeshart, 641-529-0270
"Walleye fishing has remained slow overall this last week. Seems fish are there one night then gone the next. Anglers continue to find them in 18 to 25 feet of water, off of points, sunken islands and transition areas.
Deadsticking a lively minnow was the top producer last week, but loud buckshot spoons and rippin raps are calling them in.
Lake trout fishing was a little slow overall, but there were stories of some excellent fishing happening out there. Anglers caught trout along weedlines to 40 feet of water, but the 40 foot range was the most productive.
Tube jigs were the most popular way to catch trout, but laying dead baits on the bottom was also very productive. Deep water close to shallow flats seemed to be the most productive areas to find active lakers.
Pike remained fairly active again this last week, with a few well over 40 inches being reported. Large suckers or smelt fished under a tip up, along weedlines or rocky points was very productive for anglers. Depths ranged from 10-25 feet of water..
Crappie and sunfish anglers reported a consistent bite this last week. Anglers found active fish in 20-30 feet of water. Small jigs tipped with wax worms was very effective on sunnies, while small jigs tipped with a crappie minnow was more effective on crappies setting in the basin." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Good numbers of walleyes and saugers are being caught on the south end of Lake of the Woods this week. Anglers are doing a lot of sorting as small fish in the system continue to dominate the current catch. But there were some larger walleyes, some stretching over 28 inches also caught this week.
Most ice fishing is taking place between 23 to 31 feet of water. Jigging one line on one line and using a bobber with a live minnow on the other is the goto strategy. Electronics are helpful to show suspended fish coming through such as walleyes and tullibees.
Popular colors are gold, glow-red, glow-white, pink and orange. Lures with a red light stick and rattle baits are also effective. Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, big pike, tullibees, eelpout and even an occasional crappie being caught on Big Traverse Bay.
Ice fishing on areas of the Rainy River continues to produce some walleyes mornings and evenings. Ice conditions vary greatly on the river as there is moving water. Work through a resort for safety.
Up at the NW Angle... With the border closure, there are four ways to travel to the NW Angle without crossing the border. 1. NW Angle Guest Ice Road (opening end of week). 2. Snowmobile trails across the lake are open. 3. Lake of the Woods Passenger Service (bombardier). 4. Lake Country Air.
Angle ice fishing continues to be very good with numbers of walleyes being caught. Walleyes, saugers and jumbo perch with an occasional pike, eelpout, or tullibee in the mix this week. Ice fishing taking place in 20-26'. Communicate with your favorite NW Angle resort for specifics." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"It has been an excellent week of fishing. We are currently 7 miles past Pine Island in the 30 foot range. We are regularly seeing 20” of ice now. We have worked through a few rough spots of ice and hope to see some clear smooth ice soon.
Continuing to use the glow red and gold colors while having a lively minnow on a plain hook on one rig and something active jigging with noise through the bottom 6-8 feet of the water column is a best tactic. Electronics are definitely helping to show large suspended fish and schools of Tulibee cruising through.
The forecast shows little snow and mild temps. Especially mild for January." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
In several of my recent reports, I’ve shared observations about fish, roaming flats rather than stacking up on structure. That theme played out again last Saturday when we were fishing on Lake Winnie and then again on Monday when we checked out another one of the region’s popular crappie lakes.
Anticipating crappies would be located in and around the deep-water holes in the lake, we used our GPS coordinates to check spot-after-spot where we had caught fish before. Every move we made turned out the same, drill al hole, stare at a blank screen for a minute or two and then move to another spot.
One-by-one, we eliminated our favorite areas and by lunchtime, the only thing we had to show for it was a lot of snowmobile tracks and some holes in the ice. Part of the crew bailed out, “if we can’t find in 4 hours of fishing, then this just isn’t the day”, he said.
In a lot of ways, he was right, it usually doesn’t take that long to finding something interesting to do. Even if we can’t catch ‘em, we at least typically find spots where fish show up on the Humminbrids. But on Monday, we found most of gaps between fish, and not any of the fish.
When my fishing partners announced their departure, I stood my ground, the weather was warm and the fish had to be somewhere, so I decided to keep searching until I found them, sometimes I am stubborn that way.
Long story short, I returned to the area where we first started in the morning. I dropped the transducer down a hole and marked 1 fish and it looked good, like a large crappie. I missed that fish, but the fact that it tried to bite gave me an added shot of determination. In about 5 minutes, another fish showed up, it bit and as you can see by the accompanying selfie, this time I hooked it.
Curious to learn if I was on the “best spot”, I drilled another hole about 50 yards away from the original. The same thing happened there, 1 fish showed up and it bit. A short time later, another 1 fish showed up and was added to my larder. In an hour, I picked up 5 crappies, my self-imposed, voluntary limit. There was still one fish on the screen, but I decided not to try catching it, instead, I left for home to try out the latest air fryer fish recipe.
Catching 5 crappies doesn’t make me a hero, in fact all it proves is that sometimes I am too stubborn to quit fishing. But the experience might give you some information to work with on your next fishing trip. This season, there is a definite trend toward nomadic fish roaming the flats. On Monday, the key depth was 24 feet, but that would change from lake to lake. The pattern is to target the flat areas that surround deeper water, especially ones that have a marl bottom.
Skip the micro baits. Even though tiny tungsten jigs are great lures for triggering strikes, they lack the attracting power to call in slabs from a distance. On Monday, I used 2 lures, a #4 Frostee, loaded with 3 to 4 waxworms and a 1/8 ounce Lindy Quiver Spoon, also loaded with waxies. Both baits would be considered too large by many, but in my experience, crappies will eat any lure that a walleye will eat.
If you didn’t read it already, check out the report from January 6, 2021. It contains more information about the “flats pattern” that seems so prevalent this season.
We have another early start today, so I’ll wrap it up here. I’ll keep adding updates every morning as time allows. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
This weekend, we enjoyed a family day on Lake Winnie with most of our kids and their spouses and or posslq’s. Fishing efficiently wasn’t necessarily the top priority, but we did do quite a bit of it.
There’s been a lot of buzz about Winnie this winter because reports of good fishing have been the norm, rather than the exception. For me, the timing has not been the greatest, I seem to get there on the day before everyone else gets in on a great bite.
Fish were in the neighborhood, in fact one of us or another had an image of a fish on our depth finder all day long. They were just finicky, and it took finesse to turn a looker into a biter. By days end, we had amassed a bag of fish that included some walleye, some perch and a pike that was in the keeper size range. My stepdaughter Joelle caught her first Eelpout too, so she left with a story to tell about Lake Winnie.
We spent our day fishing in Tamarack Bay, but I could hear the sounds of snowplows and ice augers humming from the north center portion of the lake. New roads were being established and fresh territory being opened up. Reports about that, along with others, should be coming in later today and tomorrow.
Right now, I have to cut and run because I’m on an early morning work assignment. With luck, the fish will be there to greet us at the crack of dawn. I’ll fill you in about that tomorrow morning. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Zippel Bay Resort's 1st ice road map of the season. We have 2 wheel house roads out deep 29 to 31 feet of water and one in shallow at 21 foot. Spots are plowed for easy access. Not alot of snow on the ice. Please stay clear of the resort fish houses, don't go long distances off the road or go plowing your own road.
The ice is rough this year. Please drive slow 10-15 mph, we all saw what happened to the roads west of us last weekend when people didn't drive slow.
There are 15 to 19 inches of inches of ice out there and we're asking slide out units and the extra large wheel houses to wait another week for more ice. Road passes are $25 a day buy two days and the 3rd is free. Thank you and drive slow!" — Zippel Bay Resort, 1-800-222-2537
"After these notes came over the wire yesterday, I think we can safely say that Lake Winnibigoshish is officially 100% open for business as of today.
On Wednesday January 6, 2021, Kim Leonhardt wrote; “Our lodge opens tomorrow, Jan 7, 2021 and we now have 14 to 16 inches of ice, covered by 4 to 6 inches of snow. We have an extensive system of roads already plowed, including almost 200 spurs plowed open for parking wheelhouses. Wheelhouses and truck travel are permitted starting today, Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021. Use your best discretion about weight restrictions with the total weight of your truck and fish house combination.
Access fees $15/day or $40 for a 3 day weekend pass. Ring doorbell for assistance. One person per group permitted inside. Covid rules apply. Social distancing/masks expected."
Nodak Lodge also posted an update on January 7, 2021. "We currently have 11 to 13 inches of ice with 4 to 8 inches of snow on top. Public access customers, we are only allowing ATVs and side by sides out, there's still not enough ice to drive vehicles. Anyone looking to come up, we're open 7 am to 10 am for access or bait.
Walleye bite has been good, lots of small fish with keepers mixed in. Locating them on the humps on top or on top of the edges of the larger bars mainly 18 to 25 ft of water. Perch has been alright, but havent found too many at this time, 16 to 20 feet of water has been the best."
Note: Word on the street is that their access ramp should be open to the public for vehicle travel after the ice is 14 to 16 inches thick. The Winnie Access Map is updated frequently, so click here to >> Check All Lake Winnie Access Details
For me, Walleye fishing was on the agenda yesterday, but I didn't get to go because my snowmobile trailer required unexpected repairs. I've got it back and it's loaded up gain, so my plan is to fish on Winnie myself, later today. I'll be sure to have an update, along with a weekend forecast posted on Friday morning.
Between now and then, there is a lot of solid information contained in this weeks reports and it is still current. So, a quick review of the past week's topics should definitely help point you in some good directions. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Many smaller lakes around the area have gained a couple more inches of ice in the last week. An influx in ATV, snowmobile, and wheelhouse traffic has showed where many of the “community” holes can be found. These areas will hold fish, but the amount of traffic can make fishing a little slower. If you start in one of these areas, my advice to you would be stick to the steepest break on shoreline areas and work around the crowd. Your success will increase by doing this. This will hold true to walleye, perch, and other panfish.
Crappies have started to move from some of the weedy structure out to the basins. Set up in the middle of the basin (or deepest portion) and work your way towards the steepest breakline. It may take a few holes to find some fish, but it will pay off. Once you mark fish, drill more holes around that area, as crappies are a mobile species.
Key depths depend on the lake you’re fishing. Locals here have been catching them in the fifteen to twenty-foot basins. Look for suspended fish. Some are being caught just five feet below the ice in some scenarios – tungsten jigs with plastics, spoons tipped with minnow head, and a float with a smaller minnow are producing fish, so pick the presentation you’re comfortable with and go from there.
Bluegill are still up shallow in about twelve feet around the weed lines. They spook easily, and you may only get one or two fish per hole. Mobility is your friend. Drill plenty of holes around the area once you find fish. Using my camera, I was able to rule out certain areas, as I was marking suckers and not my target species.
Walleye can be found on the steep breaks at Blue Lake (Zimmerman) and Green Lake (Princeton). Spoons tipped with a minnow head are producing the best results. Many anglers are catching fish between 15 and 18 inches – perfect for eating. Aggressive jigging seems to be the best way to entice a strike on these two lakes, but it can vary from day to day with weather patterns.
As always, reach out for any additional information, be safe on the ice, and use the buddy system!" — Shane Boeshart, 641-529-0270
If peace and tranquility is your bag, then you might have to work a little harder finding it in the Itasca Region these days. Ice thicknesses have reached the point where they’ll support vehicle traffic and right now, snow cover is minimal. Encouraging ice anglers even more, is the string of nice, warm days that we’ve enjoyed recently.
So, this week, anglers, eager to reach their fishing spots in their pickup trucks are filling the lakes up fast, moving un-impeded on many of the popular lakes.
On some days and in some places, this could be considered a negative, especially if your favorite honey hole is being invaded by hole hoppers with 4 x 4s.
On the other hand, if you have friends in outdoor related businesses and it makes you happy to see them thriving, then all of the traffic really is a good thing. For folks who own bait shops, resorts and other tourism related service businesses, the crowds are more than welcome; they’re essential to the well-being of their livelihoods.
I happen to fall into both categories, I love my privacy, but I love my friends too and watching them have a good ice fishing season, to me, is worth sacrificing a few of the more popular fishing spots. That said, if I, or anyone else who winds up near a large crowd wants to catch some fish, we might have to make some adjustments.
One panfish lake we were on recently provided a good example. Hole hoppers, drillers who like to find schools of fish by covering an entire sheet of ice with holes, were working against themselves. Crappies that would usually be located near structure at the edges of deep, mid-lake basins we forced to split up and move by all the commotion.
I’ve seen it happen in the fall, maybe you have too. A good-looking school of crappies appear on my Humminbird, I stop the boat, drop in a lure and for a minute, there’s some action. Then, the pack of fish gets spooked, splits up and the screen goes blank. I’ve learned that sometimes, even dropping a marker buoy into the water will split them up and they leave before we can even drop a line.
Most of the time, this sort of finicky behavior is due to 1 of 2 things. #1 A dramatic change of weather or #2 an overabundance of fishing pressure. Which brings me back to our little crappie lake and the most recent example of finicky panfish.
With vehicles driving all over the place, and hole hoppers turning the lake into Swiss Cheese, crappies split into small packs and began roaming the flats, rather than holding tight to structure. The smaller size of the packs of fish, and the distance between meant that no matter how many holes an angler drilled, there was never a school large enough to make the “hole-hopping” presentation pay off.
Instead, the better strategy was to work like a deer hunter. Find a likely looking flat, adjacent to one of the lakes deep basins and let the small, roaming packs of fish find us.
I won’t tell you that this is the way to knock ‘em dead, but I will say that the strategy worked well enough to amass a couple of nice meals of crappies, along with a few bonus sunfish in the mix.
Every lake is different, so you’ll have to be creative, here are a couple of clues. The ideal flat(s) are located near deep water and contain marl, the sand-clay mix that often harbors incubating insect larvae. The food supply only attracts panfish, also other small prey species that panfish feed on. So if the bugs on the bottom are the ones that crappies like, they may still attract small minnows that crappies do like. Either way, the situation is a win-win for small, roaming packs of panfish.
Best depths will vary from lake to lake too, but a very common depth range for lakes in my home territory range between 14 and 20 feet deep. Typically, the slow-tapering flats that meander toward the deep basin are the stretches to look at.
When the panfish are cruising, they don’t linger in any one spot very long. So, for us, being ready for action at all times was crucial. I had 4 rods rigged up, 2 with Frostee jigs that were tipped with whole, lively minnows.
The other 2 rods were rigged with small Rattl’n Flyers tipped with minnow heads. The goal is to always have 1 of each lure in the strike zone so whenever a pack of fish showed up, we could catch a few while the opportunity was good. The jigging baits helped c all fish in, but I dead sticked the Frostee jigs and watched the tip of my rod for signs of a strike.
Like I said, I would not expect to harvest limits of fish using this presentation but catching enough for a meal is well within range.
If you’re planning a trip soon, and you are not a fan of traffic, then I’d suggest thinking about some offbeat lakes, especially ones with limited vehicle access. With many of the popular lakes are filling fast with truck traffic, it’s unlikely that you’ll find privacy on the most popular lakes. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Walleye fishing continues to be hit or miss on many of the area lakes this last week. Loud rippin raps and buckshot spoons continue to call in aggressive fish during the early morning and evening hours. Key depths have slipped a little deeper to 20-26 feet of water.
Northern Pike were very active this last week, with several mid 30” and up, caught this last week. Interestingly, walleye anglers seemed to find more pike then walleyes.
Pike were found anywhere between 10-30 feet of water during the day. Live minnows suspended just off the bottom was very productive.
Panfish - Panfishing remained slow but steady for many anglers. With weeds dying back, panfish continue to slide deeper and deeper.
Both crappies and sunfish are being found in 20-30 feet of water. Small the bait the better. Small tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms or small soft plastics has been best." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"It was a great week of walleye and sauger action on the south end Lake of the Woods. There have been a lot of small fish to sort through to find keepers, but there are enough in the mix for a good fish fry. There have been some big walleyes caught too, sizes ranging from 28 to 32 inches have caught this week. Also in the mix, Jumbo Perch, Sauger, Pike and Tulibees, with an occasional Eelpout coming along too.
So far this winter, most ice fishing is taking place between 23 and 28 feet of water. Using one set line, or "dead stick" with a live minnow suspended below a bobber while jig fishing with a 2nd line is the go-to strategy. Fish that won't strike aggrssive jigging lures will often pick up on the presence of a large, lively minnow and strike it instead.
Popular colors this week are gold, glow, glow red, pink and orange.
Ice fishing on the Rainy River continues to be good overall. Mornings and evenings are producing the best walleye action. Ice conditions vary greatly on the river as there is moving water. Work through a resort for safety.
Up at the Northwest Angle, ice fishing has been excellent. They've been catching good numbers of walleyes, sauger and jumbo perch with an occasional pike, eelpout or tullibee. Most fishing taking place in 20 to 26 feet of water.
With the border closure, there are four ways to travel to the NW Angle without crossing the border.
Updates will be provided as they become available." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"It is 2021 and we are off to an awesome start! Catching has been going well this past week, there have been many trophy and slot size Walleye being caught and released. Great numbers of keeper size fish and having a fresh Walleye dinner while you’re here has been the norm.
Keeping one rig active with a noisy lure while a dead stick with a lively minnow on a plain hook is always a good tactic to start with. As the day progresses you may be changing things up as action takes over. We continue to move our houses daily as the action is on the move. It is difficult to say where we will be by next week.
Covid update; We intend to be operating at full speed this winter and have been planning as many disinfecting processes as possible to avoid major impacts to our normal service.
While on light ice we will be transporting everyone as normal, except we will not be mixing groups in the transportation. Meals will be To Go for the winter season. We will also be using paper and plastic products for plates and utensils in the cabins, normal pots and pans will be in cabin for cooking and serving.
We are constantly reviewing our process and policies to ensure we are acting safely for all involved. We will be disinfecting and sanitize transportation, fish houses and bathrooms on the ice." — 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Wondering where all the walleyes went? First ice is an exceptional time to target big and large numbers of walleyes, but we all know that the early season walleye bite doesn’t last forever.
When it starts to feel like you're stuck in a rut, subtle changes in location, technique and fishing style can add up to big differences in your daily catch.
Follow Jon Thelen as he explains some key tips on finding and catching walleyes as they move to midwinter structure.
View Video and Learn More >> Find and Catch More Mid-Winter Walleye
"Happy New Year! Cheers to 2021 and many fun adventures on the ice and open water for all reading this!
Lakes in the Sherburne and Wright County areas have ice thicknesses between six and ten inches, pending location and lake depth. The geese and swans had kept some of the local lakes open in areas up until last weeks cold snap, so I haven’t checked those areas quite yet, and I’d proceed with caution if venturing out.
In the early ice season I like to stick to smaller lakes. I found one just north of the Orrock Township with eight inches of solid clear ice.
Target Species: Panfish
This time of year, 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. The fish were found in 12 feet of water near a weed clusters on this particular adventure, and I expect the same results on other area lakes around the towns of Princeton, Zimmerman, and Big Lake.
Early Season Lures of Choice: Lindy Frostee Jigging Spoons, Lindy Tungsten Toads, and Lindy Tungsten Bugs tipped with red spikes, a single wax worm, or soft plastics.
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 five 8 to 10 inch bluegills and a few bonus crappies.
The main thing to note on these smaller lakes is that they are pressured once safe ice has formed. Try venturing away from the crowds and find your own areas holding fish. Larger bluegills tend to be closer to the bottom, so using larger baits to bypass the smaller fish is a key factor on some of these pressured lakes.
Plastics work well for the larger fish, and I tend to use Berkley PowerBait Ice Dog Bones in red or white, but your favorite panfish soft plastic should do the trick. A good underwater camera, like the Aqua Vu Micro Revolution Pro 5.0, is a factor in finding areas holding fish and weed patches to put your baits to work.
Overall, the fishing has been consistent in the area with lots of good buckets being brought off the lakes. The weeds are still pretty green, thus keeping those shallower areas oxygenated for the fish, so many fish haven’t made it out to the mid-season basins yet. With the panfish in the shallows, don’t be surprised to pick up a few predator fish in the process! Pike, walleye, and bass are always looking for those easy baitfish meals!
As always, reach out for any additional information, be safe on the ice, and use the buddy system!" — Shane Boeshart, 641-529-0270