"Turbulent weather has kept fishing guests “on their toes”, particularly ones who love spending most of their time on the big lake. The pattern, if you want to call it that, has been to squeeze in a few hours of quality fishing time whenever the weather presents an opportunity.
Walleyes, still receiving the lion’s share of attention, are turning up in a wider variety of locations. There are still decent numbers of fish on mid-depth flats near Third River, Tamarack Bay and at the west side of Winnie. Key depths range from 10 to 14 feet on the flats where you’ll find scattered pods of walleyes feeding.
Mid-lake bars and humps are generating some attention mow too. Experienced anglers recognize walleye migrations following typical seasonal trends, starting on bars that connect directly to the shoreline, and then fanning out to ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report July 1, 2022
Lake Winnie July 1 • Upper Red Lake June 29 • Ely Area June 29 • Lake of the Woods June 29 • Pokegama Lake June 28 • Grand Rapids June 24 • Ely Area June 22 • Canadian Worm Dirt Update • Lake of the Woods June 21 • Longville June 20 • Cabbage Patch Crappies June 17 • Lindy Rig Walleye June 16 • Lake Winnie June 15 • Follow on Facebook
Water temperatures on Lake Winnie are still behind seasonal averages but are warming up. Surface readings came in at 63-1/2 degrees on the main lake, 64 to 66 degrees in the back bays on Tuesday.
Cooler than average temps, combined with high water levels has meant above average water clarity and this has influenced fish location. Out on the main lake, anglers will find more walleyes in deeper water, than in shallow water. Key depths vary from 16 to 26 feet depending on the structures, but focusing on a narrow, 20-to-23-foot band at the upper edges of mid-lake structures will get you into productive territory.
Walleye anglers have begun venturing out further into the main lake. Deep water, shoreline related structures have started filling up with walleyes as they migrate toward mid-lake habitat. Highbanks, Ace-in-the-Hole, Stony Point and other prominent bars are the best places to look. There are only a few fish moving across open water towards the isolated bars and humps at mid-lake. Those structures will hold fish soon, but for now, structures that connect directly to shore will probably be more productive.
Leeches and night crawlers, typically productive live bait presentations for this part of the season are producing some fish, but minnows are still the ticket for triggering walleye strikes. Jigs tipped with shiners, large chubs or rainbows are still working. But folks who love Lindy Rigging will find that a 6-to-8-foot snell combined with a #4 or #2 hook and medium-large, lively minnows will be excellent too. Shiners, rainbows or light pike suckers in the 4-to-5-inch range have been very productive not only for walleyes, but also to catch northern pike.
If you really love fishing with leeches, then present them vertically, below a slip float, or on a 1/8 to ¼ ounce jig head fished directly below your boat.
Walleye size structure is dominated by 3 major year classes of fish. Fish from the strong 2013-year class, now measuring 22 to 25 inches in length, have provided our guests to harvest their 1 fish over 23 inches. Another strong year class, 2018 is providing the best fish for harvesting. Now measuring 15 to 17 inches, they are the perfect size for folks targeting “eaters”. The massive 2019 year class fish are now ranging from 12-1/2 to 13-1/2 inches, a little small for harvest now, but should be attractive targets later this fall.
In the shallower bays, weed growth will attract and hold walleyes, but fish of all species will be found in the mix with them. Cabbage weeds are green now and coontail, eelgrass and whorled watermilfoil plants are filling out. Bulrushes are green, and emerging above the surface, wild rice plants are still laying flat on the surface but developing nicely.
Bass, as you can see in the attached photo are roaming the shallows and some of our guests have been targeting them. Along with them, sunfish and rock bass are grouped up around weeds and in shallow spawning structure too. Crappies appear to have finished spawning and have moved away from shoreline cover; cabbage weeds are the better place to look for them now.
Some folks use spinnerbaits for the bass, but plastic swim baits, wacky worms and texas rigs will all produce good results too.
Perch are turning up in a wider variety of locations, weeds hold some of them, gravel bars and rocky areas have scattered perch schools and soft-bottom areas adjacent to deep structure hosts perch too. Jig and minnow presentations are the best bet for perch, but some folks are experimenting with spinners in the weeds and have also picked up a few that way.
With the water clarity so high, popularity for fishing the early morning and late evening bites has grown. On sunny or windless days, walleye anglers have done much better fishing those primetime feeding periods. Clouds combined with a good chop on the water keeps the fish active during the daytime.
Musky fishing season will open this weekend and in case you didn’t realize it, Winnie and Cutfoot provide excellent opportunity. The overall musky population is modest, but there are some real bruisers out there and fish, numerous fish in the mid-50 inch range have been caught. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
Walleye migrations toward mid-lake structure has begun. In the early stages, shoreline related structure such the steep breaklines and long fingers that lead into the lake’s deepest water are the best producers. Some of the free-standing humps and bars are producing fish too, provided that they are located near shore, or near one of the prominent shoreline related bars.Fish location varies from spot to spot, but generally, inside turns and soft points on the structures are holding the most fish. Long, straight stretches are producing few if any walleyes. The steep, straightaways do offer some opportunity for ... " Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report June 12, 2022
Surface water temperatures above 60 degrees are finally arriving on Winnibigoshish. Calm and sunny conditions on Tuesday allowed some of the back bays to reach above 65 degrees. There are some early signs that the warming trend may be encouraging walleye migrations toward deeper, mid-lake bars and humps. That said, anglers are still catching the overwhelming majority of walleyes on shoreline related flats and steep shoreline breaks.
Fishing “structure” has been less important than usual during the past week or so. Focusing on soft bottom flats in the 18-to-22-foot depth range has produced the most consistent action. But anglers who fish during twilight, or under cloudy conditions are finding fish on some of the adjacent shallower structure too. How shallow fish move during the primetime periods depends not only on light, but on wind too. The breezier conditions get, the shallower fish move, adapting to the changes in water current. Once a school of fish has been located, a good rule of thumb has been to scour the area, changing depths frequently.
Closely watching your electronics is crucial, especially when fishing the flats. Stable weather has made most fish active, and they are gathered in fairly large schools. In the deeper ranges, fish are relatively easy to spot on your graph as well. So, if you’re not seeing good numbers of fish on your screen, keep moving until you do. Current reports from guests are that most of the fish appear to be aggressive and will likely bite.
The presentation most folks are using has been jig and minnow. The preferred weight has been ¼ ounce, but adjust that heavier or lighter to match conditions. Shiner minnows, now readily available may offer an advantage, some folks feel that way. But there are plenty of fish being caught on fatheads too, especially minnows in the proper size range; for jigging, 3 to 4 inches is perfect.
There are some unusually big shiners available at some of the local bait stores right now. Some of them have large rainbows too and these are excellent for walleyes. The larger minnows are best presented using Lindy Rigs though, a ½ ounce sinker, a 6-to-7-foot leader with #4 or #2 hooks is perfect. Hook the minnow a single time, through only the top lip so they will last longer and stay livelier. Some anglers report that the larger minnows have helped them produce fish of a larger average size.
Perch activity is increasing now too. Some of them are caught by anglers while they fish for walleyes. But they can be singled out and targeted independently. Cabbage patches are holding some, gravel bars on the flats, adjacent to deeper water are also holding some perch. The average size has been fair to good, fish ranging in size from 9 to 11 inches being the most common.
Crappies have been found in isolated areas but are not widespread. So, some folks have reported good catches, while others come up empty handed. Finding them may take considerable determination but can be done if you’re devoted to the task. Warmer weather in the forecast could change things quickly, but panfish and bass have not yet begun showing up in the shallows. Some folks report occasionally seeing them cruising in small schools, most likely scoping out potential spawning territory.
Most of the pike being caught, and/or harvested have been catch by anglers while they target walleyes. The larger pike are caught in deeper water right now and as insect hatches begin attracting larger baitfish, the trend will continue. Live bait rigging or using slip-floats with larger minnows is the best way to target them. Steep breaklines or rocky structure adjacent to deep water flats are a good starting spot. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
Steep breaklines, like the ones found along the Mississippi River channel are holding fish, but those are overwhelmingly fish from Winnie’s strong 2019-year class. When you get into a school of 12-1/2 to 13-1/2 fish, it is unlikely that you’ll find good numbers of “keepers”.This spring, leaving the small fish behind and moving to another spot can pay off bigtime because another strong year class, 2018, features good numbers of fish that have ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report June 3, 2022
Leading into the Memorial Day weekend, walleye action remained strong for our guests. Most of them rarely ventured out of Tamarack Bay, finding schools of fish in popular spring spots like the Three Sisters, Tamarack Point and along the Mississippi River channel that runs through Lake Winnie and exits here, just down the shoreline from The Pines Resort.
But even while guests continued doing well in traditional spots, conditions around the lake were changing. Anglers were finding walleyes in a wider array of both locations and depths. Breezy conditions provided current and encouraged fish to move shallow, feeding on shiners and other small baitfish. Calm days encouraged fish to move deeper, capitalizing on another, freshly emerging food source, Midge Larvae.
You’ve seen the adult midge many times, but maybe didn’t realize it. They resemble mosquitos but lack the long beak and therefore don’t sting. During winter, their larvae, blood worms attract perch, panfish and sometimes walleye. During early summer, the larvae, found in the soft marl bottom on flats and sometimes adjacent to structure, provides a transitional food source for walleyes.
Because of the Midge hatches, anglers noted walleyes spreading out across deeper “mud flats” in random locations. Marl can occur at any depth, but on Lake Winnie, flats in the 16 to 24 feet depth range are commonly among the key depth ranges. Trust your electronics, when you spot fish, even those located far from structure, give the spot a try.
Jigs and minnows have and will continue to catch fish, so carry a supply of minnows for fish that still prefer them. But insect hatches trigger many walleyes to develop an appetite for meat. Leeches, right now, are a good first choice and night crawlers can be good too. A good rule of thumb is to bring a small supply of each, just to be sure you’re not left out in the cold when the fish are being choosier about feeding preferences.
Artificial lures are producing fish too. Jigs with plastics, spinners and crankbaits have begun to receive attention from some anglers; as conditions warm, they will produce better results.
Weather has become turbulent over the past couple of days and we’re anxious to see which fishing patterns emerge as “the best”. Watch for another update as weather patterns stabilize. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
"Shiner minnows, in their spring spawning runs, arrived on the shoreline in good numbers this week. For our guests, it means that shiner minnow supplies will be good, now available for anyone who wants them. For hungry walleyes, it means staying close to the shoreline to take advantage of the prime food source. Pike and perch love the shiners too, so don’t be surprised if you have random encounters with them during your search for walleyes.
Water levels are high and surface temperatures on the lake remain low. On Thursday, calm seas, combined with bright sunshine warmed the surface water to 56 degrees on Lake Winnie. Cutfoot Sioux, Little Cutfoot Sioux and select “back bay” areas of the big lake were warmer; 57 to 59 degrees could be found. when the winds blow and the waters re-mix, the true water temps will probably settle in somewhere between 53 and 55 degrees.
Water clarity varies around the lake, it now ranges between mildly murky, to ultra-clear. Walleye location, influenced greatly by water clarity, is strongly dependent on where anglers are fishing. We’ve had reports, on the same day, of anglers catching fish in shallow water while others report catching fish in deep water. That means you should ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Report May 27, 2022
There might have been a different slant on today’s report if it hadn’t meshed so well with an email that came in from a reader. I’ll get to that email in a minute, but first the lead in.
While we were fishing on Monday, my friend and customer Travis Krug said, “Don’t tell grandpa, but I’d be happy if we spent the whole week catching and releasing fish like these.” He was talking about a school of fish from Lake Winnie’s once dominate 2013-year class that my Alaskan somehow swerved into. The fish, ranging in size from about 22 inches to upwards of 25 inches were traveling together and apparently, didn’t allow room in their clique for fish from other year classes.
Those fish were fun to catch, but unless we’d been willing to harvest “the overs”, were not gonna find their way into a frying pan. Not far away, folks were catching “keepers”, getting in on that action meant joining the crowd and wiggling in and out of traffic. Obviously, I do that when it’s required, but I’d prefer finding productive territory that provides more elbow room. So, I ventured off, searching for a school of fish that had not yet been discovered. And I failed.
The experience wasn’t anything new for me, playing Amerigo Vespucci doesn’t always work. So, eventually, I wound up coming back, joining the crowd, and scrounging up 8 walleyes for the fish fry. Now let’s move on to the email from Travis Verdegan.
Verdegan, “My son and I got out on the east side of Winnie and fished from south of birches to north of Highbanks from 2:30 to 9:00. Action for us was sporadic, with a big lull when the sun came out midway through.
We couldn’t seem to find the fish we were after; you know the good eaters. In fact, I didn’t catch a walleye under 20”. Believe me catching too many large fish is not a common problem for. Even the pike weren’t cooperating, either too big or too small. It wasn’t like we missed a lot of fish either. We had a few missing minnows, but nothing that came with any type of certainty that it was from a bite.
This is a real stupid problem to have, because after being gone all afternoon with the expense of gas and bait my wife was expecting fresh fish to be one the menu. Oh well, I guess that’s how it goes. Have a good one, Travis.”
A) Travis, Walleyes are interesting critters, any given year class tends to stay grouped together. Their behavior is not something that I can explain, But I've learned that there are times throughout the season when one year class temporarily dominates the catch in localized area. When that happens, as hard as it is, the only choice is to leave the area and begin searching for a school of fish from the year class that you want to target.
I'm guessing that perhaps you’re like me and the larger crowds in Tamarack Bay didn't appeal to you on the day you fished Winnie. But truthfully, you were fishing just around the corner from a rather large school of walleyes located on the River Channel in Tamarack Bay. It’s a busy place to fish, but recent reports from the Pines Resort and Bowen Lodge are accurate, folks are catching fish there.
If you’re a frequent visitor to my website, you’ve read numerous reports about targeting fish in a particular size range by locating schools of fish born in a specific year. Obviously, the system only works when the lake can be identified as having a strong year class, or multiple strong year classes of fish; right now, Winnie does. We've noticed that fish from both the 2018 and 2019-year classes are well represented in that area. The 2018s, now in the 15 inch plus size range are very attractive right now. I have not been getting limits there, but holding to a voluntary 15 inch minimum, can get 8 to 12 "keepers" on an average day.
I was lucky yesterday because my crew was happy catching those larger fish and releasing them didn’t cause a moment of distress. But sometimes, folks get anxious when the fish they catch can’t be added to their larder. When that happens, it’s on me to figure out where I can locate some “keepers”. Often, that means leaving a school of fish, like the one you and your son were fishing, to find a school of fish better suited for harvest.
There are days when I must be willing to dig myself a hole, checking 2, 3, 4 or more spots hoping to locate the fish I’m looking for. Sometimes, like yesterday, I never do find that “new spot” and then I go back, join the crowd and do the best I can. On the other hand, sometimes I do find “my own” school of fish and when that happens, smiles are measured with a yard stick, not a ruler.
No matter which lake you’re on, be willing to fail before you succeed. If you’re fishing a spot and catching fish, but they are not the ones you want, make a move. If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"After our first full week of fishing for the 2022 season, we can honestly say that it’s been a wild ride. Despite the later than average ice-out, we managed to have all the docks in, and the chores finished in time for our fishing opener guests. And luckily, we did, because for our guests, the fishing opener was fantastic.
“Post Spawn” accurately describes the timing for the walleye opener. Female fish, mostly spawned out, were already transitioning out of Cutfoot Sioux. Male fish, many of them still in “spawning mode” lingered in traditional breeding areas, hoping to catch the last wave action. By week’s end, 90% of the male fish we’re catching show no signs of milt, so they’re now focused on feeding rather than breeding.
Typical of most openers, folks did not need to travel far to get in on good walleye action. In fact, several of our friends caught walleye limits within view of our marina on Saturday. Also typical of most seasons, from Sunday on, the epicenter of walleye fishing action has been on ..." Read >> Lake Winnie Report May 21, 2022 Bowen Lodge
Paul Plinske emailed with this question. “Q) With all the talk of a limited supply of spot tail shiners this year, I was just wondering if you had any tips for keeping them alive once you leave the bait shop? They seem to sometimes die if you just look at them the wrong way.
A) Paul, you’re right Spottails can be tricky to keep alive, so can some of the other popular fishing minnows like Red Tails. Your question reminds me that it’s been a long time since I’ve written about keeping live bait alive, so I thank you for the lead into this fresh update.
In my experience, keeping minnows alive for extended periods of time involves addressing 3 main issues, the first 2, involve what the minnows need to survive: space, and environment. Space, to me, means having enough water so that my minnows are not over-crowded. Environment includes temperature, aeration, and ..." Read >> Minnesota AIS Legal System For Preserving My Prescious Shiners and Live Bait Cargo Sundin May 20, 2022
From the start of the walleye fishing season, through the end of the day on Tuesday, our guests have been finding and catching walleyes. The late ice out actually helped us out because typically, migration patterns would have pulled some walleyes away from our corner of the lake by now. But this spring, good numbers of fish are still lingering, not only in Tamarack Bay, but right here in the Dam Bay as well. Click the image at right to enlarge map and view the selected area.
Surface water temperatures on the main lake are still cold, 48 to 49 degrees is the typical range. But strong winds from the west-southwest have blown warmer surface water towards us, making the extreme east side of Lake Winnie the warm spot. On Tuesday, guests fishing in Tamarack Bay reported surface temperatures of 54 to 55 degrees.
For now, prime fish habitat has been the shallow flats, over low-growing weed stubble. Shiners and other small baitfish are holding there, using the emerging grass as cover. Walleyes are roaming the flats, picking off minnows as they encounter them. So, the fishing pattern that works best is to mimic the fish and roam the flats too.
Using jigs in the 1/8 to ¼ ounce range and slow trolling or slow drifting the slow-tapering drop offs have been effective. For many, the key depth has been 9 feet of water, at times wind forces the fish shallower, and calm seas force fish somewhat deeper.
When the waves settled and the surface became calm on Tuesday, some of the local guides reported 10 to 12 feet of water as the prime depth range. “Keep it moving, but don’t put too much action on your jig.” One of the better guides advised. “Using a drag-hop-drag-hop motion will get the fishes attention. They’re still cold, so once they pick up your bait, allow plenty of time before attempting to set the hook.”
Minnow shortages have eased somewhat, but we’re selling our bait as fast as we can get it. Shiners are beginning to run, but so far, not in large numbers. They will soon, but until they do, using larger fatheads, rainbows and small sucker minnows are producing action. Size seems to be more important than species, as long as your minnows are in the 3-to-4-inch range, they’ll produce walleyes.
Perch have been hard to find so far, probably an indication that they are spawning now. They use cover like bulrushes, standing cabbage weeds and other “woody cover”, so locating them could mean exploring shallow water, closer to shore. Doing so could lead to walleyes too, Chad was in the bay a couple of days ago and reported seeing walleyes in and around bulrushes in 3 to 4 feet of water. Some of our guests have caught walleyes in the shallow cover to, so experiment when conditions warrant.
Northern Pike are hitting at random intervals, most folks report catching several each day as they fish for walleyes. Using jig and minnow combinations don’t typically attract the largest pike, but live suckers, suspended below a bobber is deadly at this time of the season. Thill’s “Big Fish Slider”, a slip float designed for drifting is a good choice. Adjust your bobber to float about 3 feet above the bottom, drift slowly across the flats and allow the sucker minnow to do it’s job.
We think it’s a little early for panfish to move into shallow cover. But the focus has been on walleye this week anyway. When water temperatures approach 60 degrees, crappies and sunfish will begin getting some attention, we’ll let you know when they do.
The incoming weather, rainy, cool, and breezy should discourage shiners from moving shallower to spawn. So, until the sun comes back out, the mid-range weed flats will likely continue being productive.
Key areas have been Plughat Point, The 3 Sisters and several stretches along the Mississippi River channel. Folks who seek adventure and want a longer boat ride can find fish elsewhere on the lake, but honestly, it isn’t necessary to move out of the bay to find fish.
We’ll have another update for you soon, so check back often. If you’re in the area, stop by and check out Chad’s handywork, he’s done a lot of remodeling in the lodge. It’s a nice place to relax with some warm food and a cold beverage. Use the link below and check our website for more details, or to get in touch. — Chad & Melissa Mertz >> The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
Opinions vary about whether Winnie will be completely ice-free or not. But we’re calling our customers and letting them know that we will definitely be open next weekend for the Minnesota Walleye Fishing Opener. Chad says that the likelihood is that there will still be some ice piled on shore, and maybe even some floating chunks on the lake, but careful boaters will be able to find places to fish.
“The bay here at The Pines Resort is already wide open out to, and slightly beyond Plughat Point. Moving east toward Tamarack Point, shoreline areas are open, the adjacent ice is cracking, and the sunshine is disintegrating ice by the hour. During the first week or two of the fishing season, our guests rarely travel out of Tamarack Bay anyway, so it looks like we’ll be in good shape.”
On Friday (May 6, 2022) we took a tour of the east side of the main lake too and can see that the breeze is beginning to shift ice out there as well. Larger cracks are forming and while the main lake does remain ice covered, its extremities are not. Slushy, soupy snow cone ice, combined with patches of open water can now be found in numerous areas on the east side of the lake. With more warm weather, rainy and stronger breezes in the forecast, we just have to be optimistic!
Across the bridge, Mississippi River water is flowing at a steady pace, but it is not raging. Walleye spawning activity is heavy and over the past few days, waves of spawning walleyes move toward the dam every evening, just before dusk. Seeing all of those fish is making us itchy to get the season started, so we’re hard at work, fixing docks, cleaning cabins, and preparing our newly remodeled lodge in anticipation of guests beginning to arrive next week.
We can hardly wait to see you in person, but between then and now, be sure to check in often for more details about lake conditions, fishing tips and news about bait and tackle supplies. Stick with us and we'll make sure you're up to speed. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552
This year, more than ever, there is good reason for anticipation of a great walleye fishing season to be high. Early data from MN DNR 2021 Fisheries surveys continue to support the widely held belief that 2, back-to-back, “dynamo year classes” of walleyes from both the 2018 and 2019 spawning seasons now dominate the population of walleyes in Winnie.
That means the population of “catchable” size fish in our system will be better in 2022, than it has been for several years. We think even better than it was when the very strong, 2013-year class ..." Read >> Bowen Lodge Lake Winnie Fishing Outlook May 6, 2022
On March 7, 2022 Brandon Lulloff wrote with a fishing report from Winnibigoshish. "SLOW! Man was it some tough fishing this last weekend. We rolled out onto the lake at about 5am Friday morning and took highbanks plowed road out to the middle of the lake. We got on our snowmobiles and headed west to our favorite spots over off of mallard point and started searching.
Getting there wasn't as bad as I thought. Travel with the snowmobile was super easy. I'd even venture to guess that a truck just may be able to make it but I wouldn't risk it. Never know about slush.
We were able to mark and catch a few fish searching Friday morning and at 11 AM I thought as found them. Up until that point, we only had caught and kept 6 9"+ perch with only 1 toss back. Then in the matter of an hour in 4 holes close together, we pulled up 15 of them! Game on, or so we thought. Rest of the day we scrapped out only 5 more! Tossed back only like 8 so it was mostly big ones biting. We were marking some fish but not many.
Next day we decided to just go back and hope for that hungry school to come back. With that weather change we thought maybe they would turn on. Nope, not really. Sat there until 1pm and managed to get together 16 of them.
I guess 42 9" to 12" Perch shouldn't leave you feeling like it was bad fishing but that lake just has so many Perch that it just didn't meet prior expectations. Sent us back to earth after 10 consecutive trips with much better fishing!" — Brandon Lulloff
"Over the past 2 weeks, email comments about the senate effort to reduce Minnesota's walleye possession limit have trickled in. Not many have offered new information, and, in my mind, none had been worth the trouble of re-opening the face-off about whether the new restrictions are needed. That is until a recent email from TR James piqued my interest.
I'm paraphrasing, but in it, James asked me whether I thought most folks truly understand the distinction between Minnesota's daily walleye bag limit and the walleye possession limit. James' point is an important one and it had been on my mind too. The email exchange made me curious about how Minnesota's current regulation stacks up against other states. That's what got me started studying the subject from that point of view.
After a couple days of researching the regulations from 14 Midwestern US States, I learned that Minnesota's current possession limit of 6 walleyes is already the most restrictive walleye possession limit in the Midwest. That's right, in most Midwestern states, anglers are allowed to have in their freezers more than a single day's limit. But not in Minnesota, here you are not allowed to ..." Learn More About >> Minnesota's Walleye Possession Regulations March 8, 2022
"Snow is stacking up; off-road travel is tricky and fishing traffic near the plowed roads has been heavy. The ability to be creative, travelling away from the crowds and into “fresh territory” is the difference between lack-luster vs good fishing. So, typical of the mid-winter timeframe, folks who have snow machines and can travel off-road definitely have the upper hand on north central Minnesota lakes.
On Winnibigoshish for example, the sentiment among many is that fishing action has slowed down. Even some of the better anglers who were catching lots of fish a few weeks back are experiencing the slow down. On Saturday, Travis Verdegan wrote, “I was out yesterday (Friday 1-14-22) by 2 PM and left after 7PM, the light shows from all the wheelhouses was very impressive. That’s as much traffic as I’ve ever seen out there.
Fishing was the slowest I’ve had out there yet, besides a couple decent pike I kept for blackened pike. First of three times out that I didn’t catch a keeper walleye. Perch were around on the camera during the day, but not a nibble out of them. I was fishing 20 to 24 feet of water.
Compare that with what Mark Thompson told me yesterday, “Fishing was steady during the day with a mixed bag of perch, pike and walleye. Last couple hours of daylight were fast action, I couldn’t hardly drop my jig without getting a strike. 95% of the walleyes I caught were between 12 13 inches. But I did get one over the slot, about 25 inches, along with a couple slot fish and 5 to 6 keeper size fish in the 15-to-17-inch range.”
In a follow up phone call, Thompson added another detail. When he started fishing, he tied on a heavier jigging lure tipped with a minnow head. Later, he observed fish showing a certain reluctance to the fast dropping, aggressive jigging bait. When he switched to a slower falling lure, the 1/8-ounce Lindy Quiver Spoon, fish struck more aggressively. “It seemed like they really liked seeing the lure hovering longer, instead of dropping quickly,” Thompson added.
While their fishing experiences differed, the anglers did agree about travel conditions. Verdegan, “I took the wheeler and flip over out of birches and was able to fish the spot I had planned and there had not been much for traffic besides mine from the last couple times I’d been out. Snow is hard and drifted, so it kind of felt like riding waves once I got off the beaten track.”
Thompson, “Travel off the roads would be nearly impossible without tracks. With tracks it was no picnic either because the hard drifts made it like running through moguls. Amazing I didn’t break everything in my sled. Drifts were worse the farther north I went. No slush to speak of.”
Neither angler reported much in the way of perch action. I recall that not long ago, there was another report that indicated the better perch action was occurring in shallower water. So, one possible explanation is that perch may be still holding on the shallow flats, rather than out on mid lake structures.
Theorizing about why he was having better action than some of his friends who were fishing other spots at the same time, Thompson’s anecdotal observation took water depth into account. Fishing a hump that topped of at 24 feet, the action was fast and furious. But those who were fishing shallower did not share the experience. Maybe, finding structures that top off deeper is something to be considered, it’s an idea worth checking out."
"Last year at about this time, there was a certain amount of “hand ringing” going on about the big crowds of anglers on Lake Winnie. While there are still a healthy number of ice shelters out there now, the scene up there this year is much more subdued.
Causing the diminished population of anglers on the ice is likely a combination of factors including tougher travel conditions, angler’s availability of free time and reports of “slower fishing action” on the big lake.
Snow cover, while not exactly the major issue, is deeper than it was last year, and fewer anglers are able to travel off-road. In most areas of the lake, 10 to 12 inches of snow is the norm, there are large stretches of broken, rough ice too and that dampens enthusiasm for exploration; at least it dampens mine.
Fewer folks are off work this year, and the availability of “free money” is drying up. So, the “covid affect” is less noticeable than it was in 2021. The reduction in traffic is not unique to Winnie by the way, I’ve seen smaller crowds on many of the region’s popular ice fishing lakes.
Fishing action is not shut down by any means but absent in 2022 are the reports about “hot bites on the big lake.” Persistent walleye anglers are catching fish during early morning and late evening. Key structures are shoreline breaks that lead into deep water, along with bars and humps located near shore. So far, there are more reports about folks catching fish in the protected slot, 18 to 23 inches, than there are about catching hordes of small, 2018- or 2019-year class fish. There are also a healthy smattering of reports about people catching fish over the protected slot, 23 inches or larger.
Something missing this year, at least apparently, are schools of hungry perch. Typically, anglers would be kept busy during midday by perch and that “busy-ness” would keep them interested at times when the walleyes were not on the move. The folks who are catching perch have found them in shallower water, 5 to 8 feet over the weedy flats adjacent to shore. If that trend toward segregated populations is widespread, then it could be a while before there is a healthy “mixed bag bite” out there.
On my afternoon tour yesterday (Jan.12, 2022), there was traffic moving both on and off the lake, but the pace was slow and lazy. The roads leading onto Tamarack Bay from The Pines Resort were in good shape as they have been for several weeks.
At Highbanks Resort, the main road was in excellent condition, and crews were on the ice, plowing new spurs and opening parking/fishing spots for anglers who were towing large wheelhouses. The photo reveals one or the plow trucks that was clearing a spot at the time.
Typical of most ice fishing seasons, resorts are full and their staff, if they have any, are stressed out. So, updates and response time to questions is delayed. We keep plugging away though and provide updates as they become available.
Always remember, we never turn away field reports from the lake. OH and by the way, nobody expects you to share your secrets, your prized fishing spots are safe, but often, it is the smallest observation that becomes most helpful to your fellow anglers. Don’t wait for a gold engraved invitation, shoot us an email or leave a text message with a few words about your experience on the ice.
If you were to visit a foreign country, knowing a little bit about the language would come in handy. When you think of it, knowing how to "Speak Walleye" could also come in real handy on your next trip to the walleye hole.
Using an expressive ice fishing lure like the Wally Talker can help because it allows you to "speak the walleye's language" in more ways than one. A finesse bait, combined with an agressive bait, combined with an attracting bait, combined with a triggering bit. You get the idea, it's a lure that allows you to "talk" the walleyes right onto your hook.
"The New Years Weekend was a big one on Lake Winnie. Access roads around the lake opened up for vehicle traffic and the lake began filling up with eager ice anglers. Here are some updates about Lake Winnie Ice Accesses and travel conditions along with a few fishing updates as of January 2, 2022.
The accompanying map with numbered descriptions identifies the access points around the lake and provides the most up do date information available at the time. Please note the dates for each of the individual access point and ..." Read >> Lake Winnie Ice Conditions and Fishing Updates January 2, 2022
"With dual goals of both keeping our fishing updates current, but also providing historical information about past fishing seasons, we occasionally need to add additional space, allowing us to stay up-to-date. At the beginning of every year, we open up fresh annual archive pages for the most popular lakes, regions and topics.
January 1, 2022 marks the opening of a new 2022 Lake Winnibigoshish, Cutfoot Sioux and connected waters page for all fishing articles, reports and updates for the calendar year. Bookmark the new page .. 2022 Lake Winnie Archives or follow links below to research fishing reports and articles from past fishing seasons." — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
We are bracing for a BUSY weekend at The Pines! Elsewhere around the lake, access via plowed roads is still a big question mark. But thanks to good ice conditions in Tamarack Bay, fluffy snow and good plow trucks, our roads are in great condition. The ice is good, with 18 inches being the most common measurement. We are currently allowing all pickup trucks towing manageable size ice fishing shelters out of our ramp. For folks with larger wheelhouses, like big tandem axle models, the landing at Tamarack Lodge is also available and open.
Anglers have been showing up steadily all day long, so expect to find robust traffic on the lake. But if history is any indication, fish should remain cooperative throughout the weekend.
So far this season, perch have been the most reliable species available during the daytime. Walleye action has been centered around early morning and late evening, but darker conditions resulting from the heavy snow cover could lead to an improved daytime bite. Panfish have been nomadic, but when you’re in the right place at the right time, can be cooperative too.
Walleye anglers are doing their best work using jigging spoons in water depths of 12 to 16 feet. You’ll find a mix of fish sizes, most ranging in size from 13 to 16 inches, but there are also a significant number of slot fish in the 19 to 22 inch range and to date, most anglers have also had the opportunity to harvest one over 23 inches, if they choose to do that.
Perch can be found in a variety of depths, but many have been shallower, being caught in water depths as shallow as 6 feet deep. Folks have also caught some nice crappies, sunfish and even some largemouth bass in the shallow water too. Look for them on top of the flats adjacent to the deeper weed patches.
Like walleyes, panfish have been most eager to bite during the low light periods. Use small blade baits and tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms, they will attract a wider variety of fish species.
Pike have been on again off again, when they move, action has been good and there are some nice size fish. A good approach for pike is to set tip ups rigged with lively minnows and move them frequently.
Often, our guests like to make side trips in Cutfoot Sioux, but as of today, that will be better accomplished using snowmobiles. A trip up to the landing at William’s Narrows Campground revealed an access road covered with deep snow. The photo shows a few ruts where folks have attempted to get out onto the lake, but so far, there have not been many people out there.
In past seasons, this much snow usually means that there will be slush on the ice, but we don’t know that yet. We’ll provide an update as soon as we can. — Chad & Melissa Mertz The Pines Resort 218-246-8546 or 1-800-342-1552