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image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism February 28, 2023

image of ice fisherman holding huge northern pike caught on Lake of the Woods "Ice fishing is still going strong on the south end of Lake of the Woods. With cool air temperatures keeping ice in good shape, anglers remain free to move around on the numerous roads provided by resorts and rental operators. Fish houses are allowed to remain out through March 31st on Lake of the Woods, and the walleye-sauger season continues through April 14, 2023 and the northern pike season never closes. Remember, fishing licenses expire on February 28, 2023 and new licenses are needed on March 1st, 2023 on all Minnesota waters.

This time of year, the walleyes and saugers can be spread out, making them tricky to pin down, bit all things considered, it's been a good week of fishing on the big lake. Success varies from fish house to fish house but those working at it typically catch a good meal of fish before the day is through. Occasionally, good numbers and even some trophy walleyes are caught. Remember, the protected slot size limit on L.O.W. for walleyes is 19.5 to 28.0 inches must be released. Folks can keep "eaters" under 19.5 inches and lucky anglers are allowed to posess one trophy walleye over 28.0 inches.

Most anglers have been downsizing their presentations. Using small jigging spoons, a lipless crankbait to bring fish in and/or a deadstick with a plain hook and live minnow 4 to 6 inches off of the bottom has been effective. Glow red, pink, wonderbread and gold were good colors this past week. Electronics help to see fish when they are coming through, understand where in the water column they are and how they are reacting to your lure and presentation. If you don't own electronics, resorts and local bait shops rent them.

Huge pike have been active for pike anglers using tip ups. With the longer days, the fish instinctively start gravitating to the next chapter, which is the spawn. Once again this week, some monster pike were caught.

If you are after walleyes, the morning and evening periods have been productive on the Rainy River and continue to be the best. A jig and minnow in one hole, deadstick with a plain hook in the second hole. If you are fishing Four Mile Bay or the Rainy River, remember, starting March 1st through April 14th, it is catch and release only. The big lake is still open for harvesting walleyes and saugers through April 14th, 2023

Another great week of ice fishing up at the Nortwest Angle too. Resorts are targeting both areas with structure as well as deep mud flats, searching out schools of walleyes. Using the one two punch, jigging one line and deadsticking the second has been effective. Depending upon where you are set up, you could be picking away at fish all day or doing the best the first and last hours of the day. Along with the walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, big pike and eelpout in the mix.

For those looking to access the NW Angle while avoiding customs, snowmobiling across the lake on the marked trails or utilizing the Lake of the Woods Passenger (bombardier) Service keeps you in Minnesota."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image links to wired2fish Wired2Fish "How to Find and Catch Late Ice Jumbo Perch"

image links to fishing video about finding and catching jumbo perch "Although it can be done year-round, jumbo perch seem to gain massive popularity late in the ice season. While perch can be found just about anywhere you look, the truly large ones that provide excellent fun and tableware are often elusive. Professional guide Brian “Bro” Brosdahl shares a few tips on locating and triggering jumbo perch using a handful of his favorite lures.

Jumbo perch are notoriously known to roam shallow flats late in the ice season. This can make hunting them down a bit difficult. Brosdahl likes to use his mapping to target depressions spread out across 3- to 6-foot flats. Within the depressions, he uses MEGA 360 to look for any irregularities (deadheads, weed patches, etc.) that jumbo perch might be relating to. Brosdahl gets a ..." View Video and Learn More >> How to Find and Catch Late Ice Jumbo Perch

image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin February 27, 2023 "Reminding the Remind-Able"

image of Minnesota ice shelter removal date map My heart goes out to folks who struggled to find creative fishing spots to park their ice shelters this winter. It took forever, or so it seemed, for ice conditions to offer reasonably safe travel conditions. Then finally, travel conditions improved so that resorts and rental operators could offer abglers a place get set up, and now the end of the walleye season has already arrived. Panfish anglers still have a little time, but for them, ice shelter removal dates are just around the corner.

Some folks have more time than others, but it’s never too early for an early reminder about when the ice shelter removal dates are coming. These days, large shelters are the norm, not the exception and the bigger they are, the more prone to “surprises” they can be. There’s nothing worse than waiting until the last minute only to learn that your home-away-from-home is trapped in ice and can’t be moved without a struggle.

You probably don’t need to be reminded, but we all seem to have that certain “absent minded friend” who never thinks of anything until the last minute. So, I thought maybe this reminder might trigger you to let them know that it’s time to start thinking about it.

Folks who plan to keep ice fishing for a while may still need to plan moving their shelters. While many resorts and rental operators plan to keep their roads open, there are a few that will close now that the walleye and pike season is over. A few of the rental operators in my home territory plan to technically be open, but will stop maintaining ice roads soon. We'll get some updates from operators this week, so if you're planning to come and go with your wheelhouse, check in for updates. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image reader comments Reader Comments February 27, 2023 "Forward Facing Sonar"

Regarding the February 20, 2023 article "Preserving Quality Sunfish and Crappies In Minnesota"

Scott Richardson commented; "Yes this is a great article. As far as more legislation on fishing, I believe it's already too complicated. (Made that way) by a bunch of non-angling legislators. I personally feel the northern pike slot limit was an overcomplication to fishing rules. Believe it or not, there are (already) more people doing (voluntary) catch and release on large bluegills and crappies as well; please no more laws.

By the way I love my Garmin Livescope scope more than anything. Also when fishing for crappies in 30 to 35 ft, I never target the fish below the 28 ft mark, typically that's where I find the four to 10 inch crappies, the trophy fish are usually suspended, roaming away from the little ones."

image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin February 23, 2023 "Weekend Fishing Opportunities, Or Not?"

image of walleye caught ice fishing near Grand Rapids If you’re up for the trip, you can still finish off the 2022-23 walleye fishing season in north central Minnesota. Snowfall amounts here have been lower than expected and travel conditions on the ice remain good. Lake Winnie, Leech Lake, Cass lake and some of the other, larger lakes have well established plowed roads and rental operators on all of them plan to be fully open for the final weekend of the season.

After the weekend, most access will remain open, but in some instances, limitations on certain vehicles could be required and will be monitored case-by-case. After the weekend we’ll review the current conditions and then publish an update about travel conditions on the most popular destinations.

For those of you who don’t have ice fishing planned for the weekend, swing into Ray’s Marine, Grand Rapids, MN location Friday and Saturday, 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM both days. I along with a bunch of other “Ray’s Pro-Staffers” will be there to chat it up with you about fishing, gear and of course, boats.

While we’d love to lead you toward a new boat, that is not the only reason you should stop by. Questions about everything from navigation systems to fishing knots can be answered for you, in real time, by guys who know what they’re talking about. If you are in the market for a boat, you should know that there are still special incentives that can save you big money. Lund’s “Spring Catch” for example runs through the weekend and offers $3000.00 off a new Lund.

Even if all you want to know is where the fish are biting, we can talk about that too, I’ll be there on Friday and again on Saturday, so swing in, say hi and strain my brain with your questions. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin "Time Over Target = Lake Trout Success" February 22, 2023

image of Pat Everson holding big lake trout caught ice fishing "The success ratio has been going up for our daughter Joelle and her fiancé’ Pat Everson. Over the weekend, they scratched some more fresh notches into their ice fishing gear belts. Pat’s, laker, at 14 pounds is the best one so far this winter I think, but they’re not done yet, so that may still be replaced by a larger one. Jo hasn't tagged a super-big one yet, but she's the queen of catch rates, claiming the prize for most fish caught overall. It didn't happen right away, but these days whenever they head for the lake, we expect to see photos like these.

So, what’s their secret, boxes full of new lures, better intel, updated electronics? Nope, I don’t think so, “Time Over Target” has been the secret weapon for these two. They’ve just kept going fishing, learning a little more each time and as they have, the fish just keep coming along more often, and lately, seem to also be getting larger.

The gear and lures they’ve been using are straightforward. The “lucky” rods they use were Christmas gifts from us a few years ago and they’ve been working well. Shimano 36-inch, medium or medium-light action I recall, with Pfluger reels and super line, around 20-pound test, I think. I don’t remember all the details, but Grant Prokop at 1000 Lakes Sports helped set us up and could easily fill you in on that. I do remember that the outfits were easily within reach of any average angler’s budget.

image of Joelle Bellamy holding nice lake trout caught ice fishing The main lures they’re using these days are Dinner Bells and Leech Flutter Spoons, that’s what Everson’s largest Lake Trout struck on. If I recall, he described a 2-1/2 inch hammered gold, which I think is their ¼ ounce size. One of the tricks they’ve developed is tipping the hooks with 2 minnow heads. The water depths they’ve been fishing typically range between 35 and 50 feet.

In my past, when anybody mentioned fishing for Lake Trout, they were usually talking about either fishing the famous Canadian waters north of the border, or fishing on Lake Superior. Occasionally, I’d hear about somebody poking around in the boundary waters too. These two have not been choosing any of those waters, they’ve been fishing inland lakes that I’ve never heard of before. While I wouldn’t say that the lakes are close to home, they are more accessible than many waters I’ve heard of, or fished before.

Lake Trout fishing is not a sport for folks who demand fast action and high catch rates. But for folks who love the pursuit of fish as much as they love catching fish, it is a blast. It’s been fun watching Jo and Pat work their way up the learning curve and seeing their success rates going up. That’s why I think they definitely deserve a pat on the back for sticking with their game plan.

If you’ve been fascinated with ice fishing for lake trout, but thought it meant driving long distances or acquiring expensive gear, think again. With a little research, some rudimentary gear and a proper amount of “Time Over Target”, you could get in the game too." fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Fishing Report February 22, 2023

"Walleye fishing continues to be surprisingly good for mid February. Quality walleyes are being caught with pike suckers, rainbows and chubs, fished under a bobber in 20-25 feet of water, over mud. Orange and white colored spoons continue to be the most popular colors for successful anglers. First two hours of light and the last two hours of light has been the best time for walleyes this last week.

Stream trout were biting, on more remote lakes, this last week. As easier to access lakes have taken the majority of ice fishing pressure, stream trout in these lakes have largely been removed by anglers. More remote the lakes still have good populations of hungry trout to catch and this is where anglers should focus their attention. Down trees, weedbeds and partially areas with water coming into the lake, are areas to focus on to find active trout. Wax worms an dead minnows remain the go too's for tipping small jigs or jigging spoons.

Lake trout fishing continues to improve slowly on area lakes. While it still seems a few lucky groups strike it rich and have a amazing day of trout fishing, most anglers are now reporting that they are at least seeing trout. Getting that laker to bite still remains unusually challenging, even for the most experienced anglers. Swedish Pimples and smaller bucktails are accounting for the majority of lakers being caught right now. Tip ups fished with a dead smelt of pike sucker has also been very effective this year on lake trout. Anglers should be laying dead baits right on the bottom and fishing live minnows just off the bottom. Key depth has remained a little deeper then usual, 40-60 feet of water.

Pike anglers continue to find big pike cruising the shallow bays and areas around river mouths. Anglers have been using tip ups tipped with lite northerns or large dead suckers. Anglers have been focusing their efforts in 10 feet of water or less." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism February 22, 2023

image of woman holding nice walleyes she caught on Lake of the Woods "Lake of the Woods ice fishing is still going strong on the south end of the lake. And because anglers are allowed to keep ice fishing houses out through March 31st, the action is just beginng for many. Walleye and sauger seasons run through April 14, 2023 and the season for northern pike never closes.

As happens each ice season, some anglers who have been fishing 20 plus miles out have started finding fish a bit closer to shore. There are pods of walleyes and saugers in various areas. It's been a good week of ice fishing for most. The walleyes and sauger are spread out this time of year, so it is important to fish each fish. Electronics really help to see fish when they are coming through, understand where in the water column they are and how they are reacting to your lure and presentation.

If you are seeing fish come through and they are not reacting, oftentimes downsizing will help. Try a small spoon tipped with a small minnow head or piece of minnow tail. Another tip is to use a noisy lipless crankbait. There are many brands on the market, an example is the Rippin Rap. They have vibration and rattles that will draw fish in. Some will hit the lure, depending upon mood, others will be more interested in your deadstick.

On your deadstick or set line, experiment to see what the fish want. Using live minnows, try small ice jigs or plain colored hooks and vary your depths from 6 inches to 2 feet above the bottom.

Glow colors are popular in these waters due to the stained waters. With the darker color, the fish bite well during the day. The morning and evening can still have a bite window. If you are staying on the ice at night, not as much of a night bite, but it does exist. Good chance at an eelpout as well.

Huge pike have been active for pike anglers using tip ups. With the longer days, the fish instinctively start gravitating to the next chapter, which is the spawn. This means putting the feed bag on as well as moving to pre-spawn areas.

NOTE: While the "harvest season" remains open on the big lake, Four Mile Bay and the Rainy River harvest ends soon. It's important to remember that March 1st, 2023 marks the beginning of the spring, catch and release only season. On the Rainy River, walleyes have been the most active during the golden hours of the morning and evening. A traditional jig and minnow in one hole, deadstick with a plain hook in the second hole have been the best.

Some nice sturgeon showing up for those few that are targeting them. As always, use extra caution as there is current in the river. Open water and spring fishing on the river is around the corner, are you ready?

It's been a great week of ice fishing up at the Northwest Angle. Resorts are in many different areas working at staying on schools of walleyes. Along the way, huge pike, jumbo perch, saugers and tulibees are in the mix. Nice walleyes caught this week with a mixed bag for most. Anglers fishing the Ontario side for crappies continue to find some nice slabs.

Using gold on sunny days and glow colors on cloudy days has been a trend, but not a "set in stone" rule. Downsizing lures and using some rattles in your lures to attract fish has been helpful.

For those looking to access the NW Angle while avoiding customs, snowmobiling across the lake on the marked trails or utilizing the Lake of the Woods Passenger (bombardier) Service keeps you in Minnesota."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

For Sale Jeff Sundin's 2022 Lund Alaskan Model 2000 Tiller Boat Package

image of Jeff Sundin standing alongside his 2021 Lund Alaskan boat.Rigged and ready to use, 2022 Lund Alaskan, Mercury ProXS 115 Tiller, Shoreland'r Trailer complete 2022 package is available now. The rig, along with all of the accessories are almost identical to last year's rig, so you may already be familiar with the description.

I’ve been running Lund Alaskans for a long time now; in fact I picked up my first one something like 16 years ago. Right from the beginning, I’ve loved the balance of utility and comfort that the Alaskan provides for me and my fishing customers.

As far as I’m concerned, these boats are the fisherman’s equivalent of having a 4X4 pickup truck for the water. They have allowed me to go anywhere and do anything without sacrificing comfort. Throughout the years, I’ve watched the folks at Lund steadily ..." Learn More >> 2022 Lund Alaskan Model 2000 Tiller Boat Package For Sale.

image links to fishrapper home page "Field Observations About Perch and Walleye From Lake Winnie" — February 17, 2023

image of ice fisherman placing Jumbo Perch on the ice On Thursday, Vince from Wisconsin wrote; "Hi Jeff — As an addition to your 2/16/2023 perch story, I’d like to add to it. We fished Winnie this weekend under ideal weather conditions, and we fished areas of the lake that no one else was accessing. Conservatively, I would say that around 60% of the lake hasn’t been touched this year because of travel conditions.

We found nice perch, in decent numbers, on one piece of mid-lake structure one afternoon, but there, we found very few walleyes. We drew a blank on perch at a second, similar structure for the next day. But this time, the second structure was full of walleyes instead.
So, maybe there’s a correlation to the competition between the species?

By now, any structure that has been accessible throughout this winter has been hammered. So, I wouldn’t expect to find many remaining “keepers“ for anglers to catch (in these areas). I would expect the shallower, “flats bite” to start getting more intense each week as we head towards spring. Hope this helps others!

image denotes reply to reader comments by Jeff Sundin Thank You Vince, I’m glad that you and your fishing crew found and caught some good fish on Winnie. Every year, no matter which lakes we fish, the action in areas that receive heavy fishing pressure seem to fade quickly. As you pointed out, exploration typically leads to discovery and any time fish are located in fresh territory, it’s a lot of fun for whoever finds them. I do agree with you too that there probably are some very good days lying ahead this winter. The last few weeks before ice out has become my personal favorite time to fish.

Your observation about a possible reverse correlation between walleye and perch populations on individual structure requires more study. Anecdotally, there have been many instances when we’ve caught good number of both perch and walleye on the same spot at the same time. In fact, late last winter on Winnie, we enjoyed some fabulous “multi-species” catches on spots where the fish were integrated.

I’m speculating of course, but my instinct tells me that the segregation of species that your crew observed was connected to the fish’ food sources. There are times when both walleye and perch are feeding on the same forage species. But there are also times when the preferences can be very different. If the adult perch, during your trip, were seeking out one forage species and walleyes were seeking out something different, it could explain the segregation. Sometimes terrain makes a difference too, perch and walleyes don’t always agree about the most comfortable places to hang out.

That said, you’ve given us something to think about and I’ll see what I can do about gathering more data that either supports or debunks the theory. For me the takeaway from your comments is that whether you’re fishing Winnie, or somewhere else, getting off the beaten path is usually better, than hanging out with the crowds; especially during winter."

You Are Invited To Become A Duly Deputized Fishrapper Cub Reporter

image links to fishrapper facebook page If you've been waiting for a gold engraved invitation to participate in the daily reports, then stop waiting and consider this your own personal invitation.

Helping your fellow fishermen and women stay abreast of fishing conditions in your area is good for everybody and it's easier than you think! You don't have to write a book, you don't have to share your secret fishing spots and you don't even have to mention your lake. But even a few words about general trends, seasonal patterns and local weather conditions can really help.

Be like me, become a duly deputized "Cub Reporter", it's good for fishing! Contact Us or if you prefer to be "social", Fishing Reports Minnesota, the Facebook counterpart to this page is open to the public, so you can post your own fishing update or just share a photo of a nice catch.

image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin February 2023 "LUND Boats 75 Years of History" Video

image links to video chronicling 75 years of history for the Lund Boat Company So, 34 years ago, I dropped over to Ray's Marine in Grand Rapids and picked up my new Lund Boat, a 1989 1700 Pro V Tiller. It wasn’t my first Lund, I’d been using a WS-16 before that, but this was the first time I’d ever picked up any rig that was brand new from top-to-bottom.

The customers who fished in that boat loved it, it was wide and comfortable and for the time, smooth riding too. At the time, I had no idea that today, February 9, 2023, I’d be picking up yet another new Lund boat, but I am.

Coincidentally, this very week, Lund Boats released an historic video chronicling 75 years of boat building history. For me, the video is well worth watching even if only for the timeline of Lund’s company history. But even after living through half of that history with them myself, the video illustrated to me how many things they did right and for so many years in a row! Besides, it’s fun seeing some of my friends re-running fishing memories from my formative years.

The video offers insight into the reasons why Lund sits so high atop the list of high-quality fishing and family boats. If you love fishing and boating, then you’ll love this video, more than once probably. View the full video and Learn More >> Lund Boats 75 Years of History

image links to fishrapper home page "Where the Heck Are all the PERCH?" — February 16, 2023

image of girl holding big perch caught on Bowstring Lake I don’t mind stepping out on the occasional limb, but I have learned that when I do, the limb sometimes breaks. Last Thursday, while wrapping up my morning radio segment on KAXE, I advised the audience that perch fishing would be my top choice as a weekend ice fishing pursuit. Well, some folks took the advice, but weren’t very happy with the results. On the lake they tried, perch did not cooperate.

Coincidentally, folks who did not hear that program and did not go perching last weekend, have been contacting me too, looking for advice about where to go on their upcoming ice fishing trips. One of them Steve List has specific plans to fish on Lake Winnie and has been asking around for ideas about where to go when he arrives. In a message yesterday, List wrote;

Q) “I heard yesterday (that) the perch bite on Winnie is nonexistent. A group fished there for two days and never caught a keeper perch.  They went to (withheld) and did well on crappies, perch and gills. Have you heard anything similar about Winnie? Never fished on (withheld) and not thrilled about driving from Winnie to Grand Rapids every day, but may have to?”

A) Steve, fishing on Winnie for most of this winter has been an exercise in following whatever plowed road that's available. Anglers have been forced, for the most part, to accept that the level of fishing success is secondary to their ability to travel to a spot. Now that we've had a meltdown, I’d expect to see off road travel conditions improve. If that’s true, then folks should be able to get more creative and locate fish in wider variety of locations.

Historically, late winter has been primetime for perch fishing not only on Winnie, but on all of the better perch fishing lakes in north central Minnesota. Last year, the best ice fishing of the entire winter occurred in a 3 week period during late March and early April. No present day info is going to help with a fishing trip that’s scheduled for a month down the road, there will be lots of change between now and then and I expect that the action will improve. That is the general, local view of what should happen seasonally.

I picked up the term "keeper perch" that you used in your question. I'm guessing that the people you talked too did catch some, but they were judged too small to harvest. That reminded me about a conversation that occurred during our meeting of the MN DNR Panfish Workgroup last week. We were reminded at that the size structure of perch populations almost everywhere in Minnesota is in decline. Last fall, the MN DNR began releasing news reports about perch studies that are occurring now in the state. A quick search led me to this KARE TV News video >> DNR study reveals Minnesota perch are shrinking. I think the video provides a good general overview about the size declines in Minnesota's perch.

Today, it’s unclear how much, if at all, the Panfish Workgroup will get into the middle of these discussions this winter. There are some who believe that perch are more closely related to walleyes and that the issue should be studied by the walleye workgroup. On the other hand, there are others who believe that perch should be considered panfish, and that we should tackle the questions instead.

I am keenly interested in perch and perch fishing, so whether or not the workgroups get involved this year, I’ll surely be following the story.

During my formative years, Winnie was a main destination for perch anglers. Recently, many of those same folks have moved further west, first exploring North Dakota, and then South Dakota and so on. This year, I’m following stories about people driving all the way to Idaho in search of jumbos. That’s a long drive to catch perch, but they’re doing it. Once they get there, many of them will harvest the fish they catch.

For as long as I can recall, the mindset of folks who pursue perch has placed harvesting the fish relatively high in their list of priorities. I’m not saying that harvest shouldn’t be important as a food source, I love eating perch too. But when I see perch declining in popular destinations all over the Midwest, and I’m seeing folks drive 22 hours to find more of them; it’s hard not to believe that we need to back off on keeping them by the buckets full. Our impact on the perch’ future welfare is definitely worth thinking about. My prediction is that the subject will become increasingly familiar to readers of these pages. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Fishing Report February 15, 2023

image of woman holding walleye caught near Ely MN"Panfish - Spring like temperatures have angler thinking of spring time panfish. Many anglers were not disappointed! Anglers found crappies very active this last weekend. Deeper holes in 20 to 30 feet of water, was where anglers found active crappies and sunnies. Soft plastics, wax worms and crappie minnows were all very effective on panfish.

Walleye - Walleyes have also been very active this last week. Anglers have been catching good numbers and good size walleyes in 20 to 25 feet of water during the early morning and evening hours. Rainbows suspended under a bobber has been very effective for walleyes. Deep mud or sand flats have been the best areas to find active walleyes.

Lake Trout - Lake trout fishing improved this last weekend for many. While anglers are still reporting seeing trout, finding the biters remains a challenge for many. Smaller jigging spoons like swedish pimples has become the best technique for anglers to catch on rod and reel. Dead suckers or frozen smelts, laid on the bottom, under a tip up, was very effective for many anglers this last week. Best depth to catch trout remains 40 to 60 feet of water.

Stream Trout - Stream trout anglers had a good weekend catching streamers in some of the areas more remote stream trout lakes. Anglers focused on shallow water near downed trees, weedbeds or current to find trout. Wax worms or dead minnows, tipped on a small jigging spoons or small tungsten jig, has been very effective.

Eelpout - Eelpout continue to show up in anglers catches. Anglers targeting eelpout have been finding active eelpout out on sunken islands in 15 to 35 feet of water. Location on the humps change from one night to the next, so anglers have to work out exact location every night, but once located eelpout have been easy pickings. Heavy glowing spoons, loaded with minnow chunks and pounded on the bottom, has been very effective on eelpout." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism December February 15, 2023

image of woman holding big walleye caught on Lake of the Woods "Remember, anglers fishing border waters, like Lake of the Woods enjoy always enjoy an extended ice fishing season compared to the inland waters of Minnesota. With ice fishing houses allowed to stay on the ice through March 31st anf the open walleye and sauger season extending through April 14, 2023. Another bonus is that the northern pike season never closes.

Ice roads and bomber trails are extending way out on Lake of the Woods working to stay on schools of walleyes and saugers. Some anglers fishing as far as 24 miles out, while others are opting to stay closer to shore and pick away at fish they believe other anglers have driven past.

The most popular fishing depth range is now 30 to 36 feet of water. But some anglers are still fishing the shallower water during the primetime morning and evening periods. The early and late bites typically last for about 90 minutes and takes place in 14 to 18 feet of water. These primetime bites occur in a wide array of locations, everywhere across the shoreline. It can be hit or miss, but if you hit, it can be really good!
Anglers are sorting through small fish to find the eaters (under 19.5 inches).

Most are finding enough walleyes and saugers throughout the day for a nice fish fry at night. Some slot walleyes (19.5 to 28.0 inches which must be released) as well as trophy fish (over 28 inches) being caught as well. If fish are finicky, downsize the lure on your jigging line and use a plain hook on your deadstick or bobber line. The glow colors or even small light sticks in lures are effective in the stained waters. Charge them up often and keep them bright.

Some nice jumbo perch, eelpout (burbot), pike, crappies and tullibees (ciscos) are being caught by walleye anglers as well. Huge pike are already showing up for pike anglers using tip ups. It should only get better.

On the Rainy River, the beginning and ending of the day continues to be the best for walleye anglers. Remember, come March 1st, it is catch and release only on Four Mile Bay and the Rainy River for walleyes and saugers until the April 14, 2023 season close. Sturgeon are showing up by those hunting dinosaurs. For those looking ahead, anticipation is high for an earlier than normal ice out on the river which is a great time for walleye and sturgeon fishing. In the meantime, the river is still locked up. As always, use extra caution as there is current in the river.

Up at the Northwest Angle, resorts are moving houses as needed, staying on the walleyes as we hit mid February. As a rule, 24 to 30 feet of water is where most are fishing. Some are still fishing structure, while others, this time of year, slide just off of the structure to target mud flats. Fish are being found in both areas. Nice walleyes caught this week with a mixed bag for most. Anglers fishing the Ontario side for crappies continue to find some nice slabs.

For those looking to access the NW Angle while avoiding customs, snowmobiling across the lake on the marked trails or utilizing the Lake of the Woods Passenger (bombardier) Service keeps you in Minnesota."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image denotes commentary by Jeff Sundin Jeff Sundin February 13, 2023 Grand Rapids Area Fishing Update "No Pain No Gain?"

image of slushy ice road on Grand Rapids Area Lake The sunshine and warm air temperatures are winning the battle against snow cover on many north central Minnesota lakes. Slush, wet roads and limited access caused by the melt down will cause short term pain, but the next cold snap will produce improved travel conditions. Anglers may well enjoy access to select fishing spots that have so far been off limits for most of the season.

On Sunday, I and the Hippie Chick got a firsthand look at why this would be great news. Finding a spot to fish wasn’t a big problem, we drove out onto the lake, following a plowed road leading to one of the few “popular” fishing areas that’s been accessible this winter. But once we reached the end of the road, we discovered that finding a spot that hasn’t been fished hard all winter wasn’t going to be as easy as the dive.

Our choices were either walking through wet snow and ankle deep slush in order to drill our holes in un-tapped territory or parking the truck and fishing at the same spots everybody else has used all winter.

image of the Hippie Chick holding nice bluegill On a work day, we might have gone for the slushy walk, but on a play date, that wasn’t appealing. So, we stuck close to where the crowd had been fishing and took our chances. I never had to drill a single hole, there were plenty of places to fish. Ice-free holes abandoned by folks who were already headed home, maybe to watch some football game on TV.

Hole hopping worked a little bit, but it was obvious that the fish have seen lots of fishing lures lately. Numerous times, we spotted them on our electronics moving up to our lures, taking a look and slowly sinking back down. Occasionally, one of them would strike, but we’ve experienced a lot better fishing at this lake in the past, when the pressure wasn’t so intense.

I don’t know if this constitutes a serious “fishing observation” or not, but for me, tiny baits were not working. In fact, I didn’t catch a single fish until I switched to a 1/8-ounce glow spoon. That lure, along with other ones considered large by some standards, have been known to trigger strikes when panfish get temperamental. The Hippie Chick was using another larger lure, a #2 Frostee jig tipped with a couple of wax worms. The sunfish you see pictured did not think the lure was too big.

I’ve learned something about myself over the past couple winters, I prefer fishing during the last half of the ice fishing season over the early portion. There’s less hubbub, easier travel conditions and it seems like fish activity intensifies after the first serious meltdown.

Our fishing trip yesterday afternoon fueled that opinion, the best part of it was the warm air and sunshine. I’m optimistic now though, that we’ll be able to maneuver into fresh territory soon and get in on some more intense fishing action; we’ll know soon. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism February 8, 2023

image of huge northern pike caught on Lake of the Woods "Resorts and rental operators continue to expand fishing territory on the south end of Lake of the woods. The effort to connect ice roads and ice track machine trails with schools of walleyes and sauger mow have some ice roads extending as far as 24 miles into the lake's mid-section.

The weather has presented anglers with a 'good-news, bad-news, scenario. The most recent subzero cold snap is good news in terms of extending ice season, hopefully well into March, but bad new in that it was tough on the bite. Once the weather started warming up, so did the bite and that's good. But if the warm weather were to continue, it could shorten the duration of "quality" ice conditions.

Presently, most anglers report sorting through numbers of smaller fish, gleaning eaters as they come along. The typical mix of "slot fish" and trophy fish over 28 inches continues to play out.

Depths vary depending upon outfitter based on where they are fishing, but as a rule, 32 to 36 feet has been the norm. The morning-evening bite for walleyes in shallow water,16 to 19 feet, has been active for some.

Jigging a lipless crankbait with vibration and rattles has been working well to catch some fish and also draws other fish into the area you are fishing. Some fish in more of a neutral mood will slide over and take interest in your deadstick, a live minnow just off of the bottom. As a rule, glow and bright colors during cloudy days, the golds and silvers during sunny days.

A mixed bag for many being reported, including walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, eelpout (burbot), pike, tullibees and even a few sturgeon and crappies.

On the Rainy River, the golden hour (beginning and end of the day) continues to be the best on the river for those fishing for walleyes and saugers. Some good reports this week. Some sturgeon have been iced at night by those hunting dinosaurs. Ice conditions can vary on the river as there is current, work through a resort or outfitter for safety.

Up at the Northwest Angle, resorts are hard at work staying on top of the walleyes. Many eater walleyes were caught this week with a variety of other fish in the mix. Some anglers fishing the Ontario side for crappies are finding some nice slabs. As a rule, 24 to 30 feet of water is the norm.

Similar to the south shore, using a noisy, more aggressive lure has been effective, as has a jigging spoon tipped with a piece of minnow. Work the jigging line in one hole with a deadstick and a plain hook a foot off of the bottom in your second hole.

Driving through Canada to the Angle no longer requires vaccinations or the use of the ArriveCan App. For those looking to access the Angle while avoiding customs, snowmobiling across the lake on the marked trails or utilizing the Lake of the Woods Passenger (bombardier) Service are best options.

Fish houses are out through March 31st, walleye and sauger season through April 14, pike season never closes."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Fishing Report February 8, 2023

"Stream Trout - Stream trout fishing continues to be very popular as stream trout anglers continue to report good fishing. Rainbows and brook trout continue to be caught is shallow water near downed trees, main lakes points and weedbeds. Small jigging spoons and small tungsten jigs tipped with a dead minnow or waxies has been very effective. Deadsticking the minnows has been the best technique. Best time has been very early in the morning.

Walleye - Walleye have become very active this last week. Anglers have been catching good numbers and good size walleyes in the early morning and during the evening hours. Medium to small rainbows fished under a bobber has been the most effective technique to catch these fish. Key depth has been 15-20 feet of water.

Lake Trout - Lake trout fishing seems to of improved a little for anglers. Fishing for lakers continue to be a boom or bust affair for many anglers, but increasingly anglers are working out where biters are located. 40-60 feet of water, over deep mud has been one area where anglers are finding biters. Smaller baits like jigging spoons and smaller bucktails has been more effective as of late. Hanging a smaller sucker or shiner near the bottom has also been effective this last week.

Eelpout - Anglers have begun to really notice eelpout activity increasing during the full moon. Anglers have been finding them out on humps in that 20-35 feet of water on most lakes. Edge of humps, large rocky flats and near river mouths are areas anglers should be looking if they want to find eelpout. Heavy pout pounder jigs loaded with minnow chunks and pounded on the bottom, has been the most effective way to catch eelpout." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image reader comments Reader Comments February 1, 2023 "Road Salt Is Washing Into The Mississippi River… And It’s Not Washing Out"

Robert Klocker wrote, "As a wheelhouse owner, I do realize we contribute to this crisis. It is just as important to clean the sodium chloride off your campers as it is to clean off the AIS from your boat, yet no one talks about it!"

The "crisis" Klocker refers to is road salt, more specifically, chloride inadvertently carried onto the ice by unsuspecting owners of wheeled ice fishing shelters. The topic, appearing in the Science Friday podcast segment of January 27, 2023, makes no specific assertion about wheelhouses. Rather, the Article speaks to the issue more broadly, connecting elevated chloride levels with declines in habitat throughout the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed.

My interest in the subject was piqued when I saw this in the transcript; "Toxic amounts of chloride can kill freshwater aquatic plants and animals. That includes zooplankton, microscopic animals that feed on algae. Die-offs can then lead to harmful algal blooms, which have their own adverse effects."

Anglers in my region comment routinely about the decline of weed growth in area lakes. During my career, many of my favorite weed beds have virtually disappeared from many of my favorite waters. Leech Lake, Winnibigoshish, Cass Lake and Pokegama, along with numerous others have all suffered significant losses of leafy vegetation. I don't know anybody who has thought of it before, but The Article makes me wonder, what if the declines in vegetation are related to road salt?

"Unlike other pollutants, chloride doesn’t break down in water over time. In other words, once it’s in, there’s no getting it out. Just a teaspoon of salt can pollute five gallons of water forever," the article says. Apparently, this means that we can't actually fix the problem, the best we can do may be to stop making it worse.

Thank you to Robert Klocker for putting the issue onto the radar screen. Learn more by checking out the pdacst, or the transcript >> Road Salt Is Washing Into The Mississippi River… And It’s Not Washing Out. Then let’s see what else we can learn about the issue and share what we learn with each other. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Fishing Report February 1, 2023

"Stream Trout fishing has been good to very good this last week as many anglers reported good success while fishing for them. Rainbow trout and Brook trout are both being caught in very shallow water near downed trees, weedbeds and large flats. Deadsticking fresh dead minnows or deadsticking small jigs tipped with wax worms has been very effective. Any movement when a trout closes in on your bait spooks them off. Best times has been very early in the morning, often time before 9am.

Walleye fishing, thanks to a good cold snap, walleyes become somewhat active and many anglers had good success this last week.  Deadsticking rainbows on a plain orange hook was reportedly the most effective way to catch walleyes. As with the stream trout, any movement after the fish showed up on the graph resulted in a quick rejection of the bait. Key depths were 20 to 25 feet of water.

Eelpout fishing reports have begone to trickle in as anglers start targeting them more and more as we get closer to their spawning season. Anglers have been finding them in classic spots like shallow humps and shallow flats with sand or weeds on them. Late evening and after dark remains the best time to find active eelpout. Heavy, bright glowing eelpout jigs, packed with chunks of fresh minnows and pounded on the bottom has best.

Lake trout fishing continues to be unusually slow for just about every angler seeking them. Anglers continue to report seeing good numbers of lakers on most days, but lakers continue to be uncooperative and don’t chase their baits. There were a few anglers reporting success with suspended a live sucker or rainbow down near the bottom. Large flats in 30 to 45 feet of water, close to deeper water were good areas anglers reported success. A few big lakers were caught this last week and interestingly, they were all caught suspended over deep water (50 feet deep and beyond), but were spotted 15 feet under the ice." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism February 1, 2023

image of ice fisherman holding giant eelpout caught at the Northwest Angle "With ice fishing in full swing, local resorts, outfitters and ice guides are working hard on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Staying on top of walleye and sauger means constant pushing to open new ice roads and grooming off road trails so that we can keep moving fish houses to the most productive areas.

There are a variety of walleye sizes being caught, and sauger are available in good numbers. Sorting through the walleye catch for “keepers” along with adding a few eater sauger to the creel have all contributed to good fish fries for most groups. Some anglers are being rewarded with trophy walleye, over 30 inches along the way too.

Fishing depths vary from spot-to-spot, mostly depending upon outfitter preferences about where they are fishing. But as a rule, 30 to 34 feet has been the norm.  Some anglers are finding some nice walleyes shallower, particularly during the morning and evening bite. During those periods, most fish are being caught in water depths of 16 to 19 feet.

Working the one - two punch, jigging one line and having the second line with a live minnow under a bobber or watching your rod tip for anything unusual while it sits on a bucket. The popular colors in the stained waters of Lake of the Woods are gold, glow and brighter colors.  This past week, oranges were working well.

A mixed bag as usual on Lake of the Woods.  Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, eelpout (burbot), pike, tullibees and even a few sturgeon.  This week, a whitefish was even caught.  They are present in the lake but not common on the south end as much. 

On the Rainy River, the golden hour, during morning and evening remains the best bet for those ice fishing the river for walleyes and saugers. Some sturgeon anglers, fishing during the overnight hours, have been catching some big fish. Giving up sleep for some giants!

Ice conditions can vary on the river as there is current, work through a resort or outfitter for safety. 

Up at the Northwest Angle, it was a week filled with some great walleye fishing.  Resorts are spread out throughout this island area targeting both structure and deep mud adjacent to structure.

Typically, a higher percentage of walleyes over saugers in this part of the lake.  Other fish mixed in as on the south shore.

Driving through Canada to the Angle no longer requires vaccinations or the use of the ArriveCan App. For those looking to access the Angle while avoiding customs, snowmobiling across the lake on the marked trails or utilizing the Lake of the Woods Passenger (bombardier) Service are best options."  Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH