Ice Shelters 2-29 • L.O.W 2-28 • Ely MN 2-28 • Grand Rapids 02-08 • Fisheries Plans 02-08 • Lake Trout 02-05 • Perch Report 1-29 • Barotrauma Study 1-25-24 • Bad Ice 1-13-24 • Fish Consumption • Forward Sonar • Panfish Workgroup • Follow on Facebook
I don’t imagine most folks who own ice fishing shelters need a reminder, but we are up against the deadlines for removing them from many popular Minnesota lakes. Shelters in the “Blue Zone” shown on the accompanying map must be removed by next Tuesday, March 5, 2024. Anglers in the “Green Zone”, the northern third of Minnesota, have a couple extra weeks. Assuming the cold weather holds, Lake of the Woods anglers still have another month before their shelters must be removed.
Fishing licenses expire after today too, so before you head back out to the lakes, pick up a new one for 2024-2025. I’ve written before that I always buy my fishing and hunting licenses online, and that’s what I did this morning. While I was at it, I added walleye stamps and trout stramps to both my license and the Hippie Chick’s too. The total for everything came to about 80 bucks, about the same as what we’ll spend on dinner and drinks later this evening.
One of the very few times each year that I ask readers to do anything, is when I make my annual appeal for you to add the voluntary walleye stamp to your fishing licenses. Proceeds from the $5.00 stamp were originally earmarked for walleye stocking, these days they’ve added the term “walleye related activity”. I’m not sure what that all includes, but at least the money is devoted to Minnesota’s walleyes and not to re-painting the conference rooms at 500 Lafayette Road.
On the fishing front, Minnesota anglers have a couple of choices to make. Ice fishing is still alive and well up north and down south, folks can choose to scratch their fishing itch on open water instead.
For me, it feels like the ice fishing season is just getting started. With spring just around the corner, perch and panfish activity will be increasing, and access to north central region lakes, especially the smaller ones, couldn’t be better. Snow cover is virtually non-existent, so walking out to the shallow water breaklines will be easy. In past seasons, that’s been my best fishing period of the whole winter.
Lake of the Woods has gotten most all of the attention lately because folks can drive out in pickup trucks, and there’s enough ice to support larger ice fishing shelters. Now that the inland season has closed for walleye and pike fishing, Lake of the Woods will get even more attention from walleye, pike and sauger anglers. But if you’re an explorer, keep in mind that there are numerous other border waters that remain open to fishing for walleye and pike. There’s a handy page on the DNR website, it lists all of the boundary waters, which species remain open and when the seasons end. Use this link for more information about >> Minnesota Border Waters Fishing Seasons
Closer to home, conditions vary so widely that I’ve hesitated to offer guidance about where to go, and where to avoid. On larger lakes like Winnie, Leech and Cass, some resorts and rental operators remain open, but some have already closed. Even operators that do remain open have placed restrictions on where and how anglers are allowed to travel. I’ve had a few emails from folks who notice that I’ve been absent from reporting about them. Over the next couple of days, I’ll take a tour of the region, and do my best to bring some firsthand perspective before the weekend. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Ice Report • No improvements were made this last week in the Ely area. Ice thickness remains between 12 and 16 inches on shallow lakes in the Ely area and 8 to 14 inches on deeper lake trout lakes. Very little to no snow has travel limited to skates, foot, 4 wheelers and side by sides.
Fishing Reports • Lake Trout - Lake trout fishing has been challenging to say the least. Many anglers, this last week, struggled to get lakers to leave the bottom or even stop and show interest in their baits. Small jigging spoons and live bait placed 6 to 12 inches off the bottom seemed to be anglers best approach to catching lakers. Sunken islands that top out in 20 to 40 feet seemed to be the most productive structure to fish.
Panfish - Panfishing has been like the weather. One day hot, next day ice cold. Finding panfish doesn't seem to be the issue anglers are having. Finding panfish that aren't glued to the bottom and active is the challenge. Drilling lots of holes and moving has been key for a successful outing. Crappie minnows, under a bobber, for negative panfish have been productive on negative panfish. Panfish suspended off the bottom have been hitting small white or red colored soft plastics.
Stream Trout - Rainbow trout were a popular target this last week. Anglers reported good fishing for them on several area lakes. Early in the morning, anglers found them in shallow water 5 to 15 feet. Later in the day anglers found rainbows out over deeper water, 20 to 50 feet of water. Either location, rainbows are being caught 5 to 15 feet under the ice on small spoons or tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms.
Eelpout - Recent full moon has eelpout activity high and a lot of anglers taking full advantage. Bright glowing tubes or heavy pout spoons, loaded with chunks of minnows and pounded on the bottom, have been very effective. 25 to 45 feet of water, around sunken islands or sharp drop offs close to flats have been the areas to look for eelpout. Depth seems to change every night, so find fish first before setting up for the night." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"There may not be snow or good ice where you live, but there is still a lot of ice fishing is happening on Lake of the Woods. It is still winter on the border and resorts are monitoring ice conditions multiple times every day. Resort fish houses and sleeper fish houses reain available and some ice roads are even open for pickup trucks pulling wheelhouses as well. Check with each individual ice road operator for specific limits.
Ice fishing continues strong and for most, fishing action for walleye and sauger is reported to be excellent. The majority of ice fishing for walleyes and saugers is still taking place in 24 to 34 feet of water. Jigging with one fishing rod, and using a live minnow on the second 'dead stick" line is the way to go. Gold, glow red, glow white, and pink are good colors.
Pike anglers are reporting increased activity. Most fishing the shoreline breaks near spawning grounds. Pike activity will only increase as we roll into March. Arming your spread with a mixture of live and dead baits will allow you to quickly figure out what the pike wants that day. Alewife, smelt, herring, numerous sizes of live suckers, or even large shiners work well.
Most ice fishing is still taking place on the lake, but there are also a couple of resorts that ice fish on the Rainy River. Know ice conditions or work through a resort or outfitter for safety. The river is open east of Birchdale. We expect some open water to start creeping in a bit near Birchdale, but not yet. We will keep you posted.
Another good week of ice fishing up at the Northwest Angle too. Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, eelpout, pike and some big crappies in the mix. Jigging one line and deadsticking the second line is the way to go. The morning and evening bites have been the most productive, with anglers picking at fish during the day.
Lake of the Woods enjoys an extended ice fishing season each year. Fish houses are allowed on the ice through March 31st, the walleye and sauger season goes through April 14, 2024 and the pike season never ends." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"It is still winter on the border, and ice fishing action continues to be strrong on the south side of Lake of the Woods. Overnight temps in the teens and twenties are maintaining ice nicely. Fishing continues to be excellent. It has been an incredible year for walleyes and saugers with both numbers and size.
Resort fish houses and sleeper fish houses are available. Some ice roads are allowing pickup trucks pulling wheelhouses as well. Check with each individual ice road for specific limits.
As always, and certainly this year, it is important to stay on the resort ice roads. It is tempting to go off on your own as there isn't much snow, but that is a risky move any time of the year. Resorts and outfitters keep their roads on the best ice and monitor it numerous times per day.
Lake of the Woods enjoys an extended ice fishing season each year. Fish houses are allowed on the ice through March 31, 2024 and the walleye-sauger season goes through April 14, 2024. The fishing season for northern pike season never ends, so anglers can pursue them anytime, ice or open water.
The majority of ice fishing for walleyes and saugers is taking place in 24 to 34 feet of water. Jigging one line and using a live minnow on the second line is the way to go.
Pike anglers fishing shallower shoreline breaks and reporting good activity and big fish. Pike activity will only increase as we approach the month of March. Arming your spread with a mixture of live and dead baits will allow you to quickly figure out what the pike wants that day. Alewife, smelt, herring, numerous sizes of live suckers, or even large shiners work well.
Most ice fishing is taking place on the lake, but there are a couple of resorts that ice fish on the Rainy River. Know ice conditions or work through a resort or outfitter for safety. The river is open east of Birchdale. Those who enjoy the spring open water season on the river are optimistic the river will open early. Is your boat and fishing gear ready when it does?
Another very good week of ice fishing is taking place up at the Northwest Angle. Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, eelpout, pike and some big crappies in the mix. Water conditions are clearer this winter compared to most. For that reason, the morning and evening bites have been stronger than midday overall.
Jigging one line and deadsticking the second line is the way to go. Electronics help in determining what the fish want that given day and will up your catch of fish." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"Ice Report • Little improvement happened this last week, with ice thickness, on area lakes. Anglers continue to report 8 to 14 inches of ice on area lake trout lakes. Thickness remains very inconsistent. Out on crappie and walleye lakes, anglers have been reporting 12 to 15 inches of ice. Snow cover is almost non-existent, so 4 wheelers and side by side are the best way to travel on area lakes.
Fishing Reports • Lake Trout - Lake trout fishing proved to be challenging this last weekend for trout anglers. Many anglers reported inactive lakers that stayed tight to the bottom in 30 to 50 feet of water. Lakers would come in, look, gone. Pounding the bottom with heavy tubes, tipped with suckers bellies, was effective to draw in lakers and keep them interested enough to bite.
Stream Trout - Anglers reported good fishing for rainbow trout on area lakes. Best fishing seemed to be early in the morning. Small tungsten jigs tipped with wax worms or a dead minnow, dead sticked, have been very effective. Anglers report rainbows coming through 5 to 15 feet of water. Some big Splake have been caught this last week. Anglers catching these Splake are fishing in 15 to 25 feet of water. Rippin raps, small bucktails and small tubes have been effective.
Crappies - Crappies have begun to get active late last weekend. Anglers are finding them in 20 to 30 feet of water. Small jigs tipped with crappie minnows have been effective for inactive crappies while soft plastics have been better for active crappies. Purple, orange, pink and wonder bread have been the best colors.
Eelpout - Eelpout have remained active again this week. Anglers continue to find eelpout deep in 45 to 65 feet of water. Bright glowing tubes or pout spoons, loaded with minnow chunks, have been very effective on them overnight." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"If you follow tournament bass fishing, you know that forward facing sonar has dominated the majority of major bass tournaments. This new technology has opened doors for anglers allowing them to target bass that haven’t been fished for. There are a wealth of benefits associated with this new technology, however it comes with its disadvantages as well. Over the last several months there has been lots of backlash directed towards forward facing sonar. Many anglers and fans argue that this technology is having a negative impact on the sport, taking away from its exciting nature.
Much of this scrutiny comes from the fact that many anglers no longer practice traditional methods of bass fishing. It seems that traditional methods such as flipping and shallow water fishing are quickly becoming a thing of the past. While this may seem like the case on paper, there are still tons of anglers such as John Cox and Keith Carson who are consistently successful practicing these old school methods. This begs the question, is forward facing sonar an advantage or disadvantage? This feature will highlight some of the advantages and disadvantages of ..." Learn More >> Advantages and Disadvantages of Forward Facing Sonar
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking people interested in Lake of the Woods fisheries management to share their perspectives about future management of the lake. It is important for this update to reflect public values and perspectives on how the lake should be managed. The updated master plan will be used to guide management of Lake of the Woods fish populations. It will include management goals, objectives and strategies for the lake for the next five years.
The purpose of the questionnaire, available online through Friday, March 15, 2024 is to help generate ideas and identify potential planning issues and opportunities specific to Lake of the Woods as the DNR begins the planning process.
"This questionnaire offers people the chance to help advance management of the high quality, multi-species fishery that is Lake of the Woods,” said Matt Skoog, Baudette area fisheries supervisor. “We especially want to hear peoples’ thoughts about walleye and sauger angling, observations about winter angling, the importance of keeping fish to eat, as well as ideas about other large fish like lake sturgeon and northern pike.”
To share your viewpoints about fishing on Lake of the Woods, click here to participate >> Minnesota DNR Lake of the Woods Fisheries Management Questionnaire
"Ice Report • Another warm week, with rain, then freezing temperatures have actually improved ice conditions on Ely area lakes. What little snow we had on the ice, is now largely gone thanks to the rain we got last week. Freezing temperatures and high winds quickly locked up any standing water. 12 to 16 inches of ice is being reported on just about all Ely area lakes. Lake trout anglers are still finding pockets of 8 to 9 inches of ice on lake trout lakes. These reports have been keeping anglers from driving out on the ice, so 4 wheelers and side by side continue to be the best way to travel on local lakes.
Fishing Reports • Lake trout reports were good going into the weekend, but as the weekend wrapped up, the bite had slowed. Anglers have been reporting that bigger lakers were flying high, right under the ice. Small lakers were staying tight to the bottom. Those high flyers have been very challenging to get to bite. Many anglers have been saying they fly in, look, gone. Lakers on the bottom have been hitting small suckers or rainbows, right on the bottom, in 30 to 50 feet of water.
Walleye fishing suddenly improved pre rain and even post rain. Time of day has not changed. It's still a evening and after dark bite, but many anglers reported that walleyes were hitting jigging spoons again, as well as rattle reels. Rainbows and pike suckers were the most effective minnow and 20 to 25 feet of water, over deep mud.
Crappies were really starting to get active last week, until the rain started. Anglers were finding active crappies 10 to 15 feet off the bottom in 20 to 30 feet of water. Small tungsten jigs, tipped with soft plastics, waxies or crappie minnows.
Eelpout continue to keep popping up in anglers' catches as they continue to get more and more active during the evening and overnight hours. Heavy jigs and bright glowing tubes, both loaded with minnow or smelt chunks and pounded on the bottom, has been very effective. Depths anglers are reporting is different every night, but have been between 30 to 60 feet of water, over deep flats, around sunken islands and along sharp drop offs." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Ice fishing is in full swing on the south end of Lake of the Woods and a good bite continues for most anglers. Some very quality walleyes and saugers with mixed in jumbo perch, eelpout, and occasional pike in the mix.
Ice conditions, and consequently, weight limits on ice roads are again improving with the cold weather. Resort fish houses and sleeper fish houses are available. Some ice roads are allowing pickup trucks pulling wheelhouses. Check each individual ice road for specific limits. With that being said, it is super important to stay on the resort ice roads and do not go off on your own. Resorts and outfitters keep their roads on the best ice. Going off the ice roads and on your own is not a good idea.
Weather report looks cold. If overnight cold temps hold, and the forecast looks good, fish houses on LOW are allowed out through March. In addition, the walleye-sauger season on Lake of the Woods is an extended season and goes through April 14, 2024. The season on northern pike never ends.
The majority of ice fishing for walleyes and saugers is taking place in 24 to 34 feet of water. Jigging one line and using a live minnow on the second line is the way to go. Jigging spoons with and without rattles tipped with a full minnow or piece of a minnow in gold, glow red, glow white, pink, and chartreuse, or a combo of these colors, have been good. On the deadstick, a live minnow on a #4 or #6 plain hook, colored hook or a small ice jig six inches - one foot off of the bottom is effective. Jig the deadstick on occasion to keep the minnow moving and to attract fish.
Pike anglers fishing shallower shoreline breaks and reporting big fish. Pike activity will only increase as we approach the month of March.
On the Rainy River... Most ice fishing is taking place on the lake. There are a couple of resorts that ice fish on the Rainy River. Know ice conditions or work through a resort or outfitter for safety. Ice conditions on the Rainy River can vary greatly due to current.
Up at the Northwest Angle, anglers enjoyed another great week of walleye fishing this week. Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, eelpout, pike and some big crappies in the mix. Resorts continue to have fish houses spread out on a number of good spots throughout the Minnesota side of the NW Angle. Anglers targeting black crappies are doing well just across the border into Ontario. Inquire with NW Angle resorts for info.
Jigging one line and deadsticking the second line is the way to go. Electronics help in determining what the fish want that given day and will up your catch of fish." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
One pledge to myself for 2024 was to get our tax documents ready and delivered early, and that pledge was taken seriously. So, the past week was devoted primarily to working inside at my computer. My only connection with nature had been taking the dog for walks around the block every day, and on those walks, all I could see was that the weather was warm, and the snow was melting. My assumption, an incorrect one, was that the ice fishing season was all but over.
We’ve been seeing reports from Lake of the Woods and know that folks are getting around fairly well on the ice up there. Some of the other large lakes in north central Minnesota have enough ice for limited vehicle travel too. So many operators have placed restrictions about how folks can travel, that it made me lose interest in fishing most of them. While I’ve been interested in fishing more on some small lakes in the Grand Rapids area, the wet conditions had been discouraging. So, like I said, I’ve all but written off the ice fishing season.
Yesterday, I was driving the Hippie Chick over to Coleraine, where we would celebrate her birthday at the Smoke on the Water restaurant. On the way, I swung into the landing at Trout Lake and was surprised to see vehicles driving on the ice and lots of anglers coming and going from their fishing shelters. How thick and how good the ice was will remain an open question to me, but it was obviously good enough for those folks who were travelling on it. Surely though, the forecast of heavy rain would put an end to that, we speculated as we ate our pizza.
This morning though, I checked the weather forecast and see that after today, we’re in for a week of sub-freezing temperatures. I checked the forecasts for Baudette, Bemidji, Crookston, Grand Rapids, and Garrison and don’t see much variation; they’ll all be receiving colder weather soon. Snow cover ranges from minimal to non-existent in these areas, and that means new ice will form quickly. It’s way too soon for predictions, but by this time next week, we could easily be talking about a significant uptick in ice fishing traffic.
Historically, late February and March have been considered primetime for perch anglers. Lake of the Woods, with its extended walleye season remains popular well into the springtime too. So, just when I thought the ice fishing season might be over, I could see a scenario playing out where the winter of 2024 goes down in history as a fabulous “half season”. Obviously only time will tell, but it might be a lot of fun finding out, stay tuned. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Dive into a frigid morning on Devils Lake backwaters with professional walleye angler Duane Hjelm as he embarks on a hunt for shallow water walleyes. Hjelm shares his experience and insights into tracking fish down on a shallow flat, and what adjustments to make on a day to day basis.
FINDING SHALLOW WALLEYES- Hjelm begins the day on a large flat, targeting areas of Devils Lake with abundant weeds in search of roaming walleye. The depth, hovering around 4 to 5 feet, presents a unique challenge as it lacks significant features. The focus is on identifying areas where baitfish and active walleye converge, making early mornings the prime time for action.
TWEAKING TACTICS FOR SUCCESS - Hjelm reveals his preferred tweaks to ..." View Video and Learn More >> Devils Lake Ice Fishing Walleyes | Shallow Water Tips
Ice conditions have changed little in the Ely area this last week. Angler have been running 4 wheelers, snowmobiles and side by sides on area lakes. Walleye, crappie and stream trout lakes have between 12 to 16 inches of clear, solid ice. Lake trout lakes are a little behind with 8 to 12 inches of clear solid ice. Snow cover varies from 5 inches to nothing. With the warm temps, slush has popped up on many area lakes, but has not been much of a issue for anglers.
Lake trout fishing was slow but steady for many anglers. Some real quality lakers were caught this last week on red and white combintaions and chartreuse colored tubes. Early and late in the day seemed to be when those big trout were active. Small suckers on the bottom, under a tip up, was very effective on those lakers that were inactive and wouldn't leave bottom.
Crappies - Warm, late March like temps had many anglers out looking for active crappies. Many angler were not disappointed! Active crappies were caught 10 to 15 feet under the ice, over 20 to 30 feet of water. Crappie minnows and soft plastics in white or red, were very effective.
Stream Trout - Warm temps had rainbows and Splake active in area lakes. Rainbows were hitting wax worms and salmon eggs, tipped on a small tungsten jig and dead stick. Key depth for rainbows was 5 to 10 feet under the ice in 20 to 30 feet of water. Splake on the other hand we're liking a active bait. Small ripping raps, small 3 inch tubes and waxies on a spoon were all effective. Key depths for Splake were 10 to 15 feet of water.
Walleye fishing was on the tough side this last week. Deadsticking or rattle reels accounted for the majority of walleyes caught this last week. Evening and overnight hours have remained the best time. Small handful of walleyes were caught mixed in with crappies too. Mud flats have been the best areas to target in 20 to 25 feet of water.
Eelpout reports are starting to trickle in as eelpout become active. Anglers have been finding them pretty deep in 50 to 65 feet of water. Deep flats have been best. Bright glowing eelpout jigs or bright glowing tubes, loaded with minnow chunks or frozen smelt have been getting bites." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358
"Ice fishing is in full swing on the south end of Lake of the Woods. Lodging, fish house rentals, ice fishing trips, and meal packages are widely available. For most folks, the ice fishing this past week have been good. Anglers say that they're catching quality walleyes and saugers from a number of areas and that the fish cleaning shacks have been busy. Some resorts use ice roads, allowing you to drive your vehicle to the heated fish house. Other resorts have groomed trails and will transport you out in their ice transportation. Nothing has changed, lots of options.
Resort ice guides and outfitters are constantly monitoring ice conditions. Thankfully, we had increased ice thickness and had a nice layer of snow prior to the recent warm up. The snow is an insulator and will protect the ice from the sun. Reports from resorts and outfitters are that ice conditions are good where ice roads are marked and they are fishing.
With that being said, it is super important to stay on the resort ice roads and do not go off on your own. There are areas of thinner ice conditions, cracks, etc in areas of the lake, off of the ice roads. Many ice roads have restrictions for 3/4 ton and 1 ton pickups along with wheel houses. Check ahead.
The majority of ice fishing on the south end of the lake is in 28 to 34 feet of water. The one two punch of jigging one line and using a live minnow on the second on a plain hook or an ice fishing jig is the way to go. On the jigging line, jigging spoons with rattles tipped with a full minnow or piece of a minnow in gold, glow red, glow white, pink, and chartreuse, or a combo of these colors, have been good. On the deadstick, a live minnow on a #4 or #6 plain hook, colored hook or a small ice jig six inches - one foot off of the bottom is effective. Jig the deadstick on occasion to keep the minnow moving and to attract fish.
Most ice fishing activity is taking place on the lake, but there are a couple of resorts that ice fish on the Rainy River. Know ice conditions or work through a resort or outfitter for safety. Some anglers who open water fish in the river during the spring are hoping for an extra week or two this year. Mother Nature will determine!
Another good walleye bite up at the Northwest Angle this week. Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, eelpout, pike and some big crappies in the mix. Resorts have fish houses spread out on a number of good spots throughout the island area of the lake on the Minnesota side. Resorts also have options for those who are interested in catching big black crappies on the Ontario side of the lake. Inquire with NW Angle resorts.
Again, the one two punch of jigging one line and deadsticking the second line is the way to go. Electronics are very helpful in determining what the fish want that given day. Adapt based on how they are reacting, or not reacting, to your offerings. The snowmobile trails from the south end of Lake of the Woods across the lake up to the NW Angle resorts are open. Please stay on the trail for safety." — Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
Our kids, Joelle, and Pat were back up at the lake trout hole again this weekend. As you can see, the weather was gorgeous, and they are continuing to dial in the best fishing patterns for catching trout too. It seems like every weekend we get at least a few photos, sometimes we see a lot of them. Last weekend, Jo came very close to capturing a wall mounter, estimated to be over 25 pounds. That fish broke the line, just below the ice which I’m sure was disappointing now. On the other hand, that fish will be the one that keeps the fire of desire burning. The chase for Mr. Big is on, and will likely continue for a good long time!
Jo’s report came in via text message on Sunday evening and starts with; “We were outside all day long! Even got sunburnt! The ice thickness varied from place to place but averaged between 9 to 12 inches thick.”
Pat caught 3 trout between 9:20 and 9:40 AM in about 70 feet of water and that was it for him today. Apparently, the fish moved into shallower water, because at around 11 AM Jo caught 2 more trout, this time in about 45 feet of water. That brought the total catch to 5 fish, not a bad day for any lake trout excursion.
The presentation Pat used was a medium sized, white dinner bell with feathers. Jo used a large green dinner bell, also with feathers, and both lures were tipped with minnow heads.
For these two, just being on the ice with rods in their hands is usually lucky enough. Whenever they catch fish, especially good size ones, then they feel really lucky. This weekend they felt even luckier than usual because before they drove up to the lake, they made a stop at the clinic. The appointment was their 20-week update about Ryder, who will soon be Grand Baby Number 5 for I and Susan, who reports that according to the ultrasound, has Jo’s nose.
So, we can call them “Lucky Jo and Pat” just for enjoying a weekend of fabulous weather up north. Then let’s call them “Lucky, Lucky, Jo and Pat” for standing on the ice with rods in their hands. Then for catching some fish, we can say “Lucky, Lucky, Lucky, Jo and Pat”. And for doing all that on the heels of receiving a great 20-week baby update, we can say “Lucky, Lucky, Lucky, Blessed Jo and Pat”.
I guess that’s what I’d call a memorable weekend! — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Earlier this week, the Hippie Chick and I were traveling west on Highway 2 near Grand Rapids. On that single trip, we saw more trucks towing wheelhouses than we’d seen on all our other trips, all winter long, combined. The problem is that they were all heading east, heading for home instead of coming this way to go ice fishing. I’m speculating, but it wouldn’t surprise me if for a lot of those folks, the “wheelhouse” ice fishing season was already over for this year.
The weather outlook for this week in north central Minnesota reminds me of a classic March ice fishing pattern. Overnight, air temperatures dip below freezing, the surface ice on area lakes turns solid and dry. Travel conditions during mornings start off good, then warm afternoon temperatures turn the snow cover soft, conditions get wet, and sloppy. Travel conditions, especially at landings, deteriorate so while any given lake’s main sheet of ice may remain good, access to it does not.
Under the circumstances it is completely understandable that some area resorts are suspending or limiting access to certain roads in certain areas, and on certain lakes. The problem is that conditions change quickly, and keeping tabs on rental availability is a moving target. For the most part, ice roads do remain open, typically for ATVs towing small, single axle wheelhouses or other smaller portable fishing shelters. Some operators are issuing complex lists of the vehicle weight distribution combinations that they will allow on their roads. There are still some operators, mainly on Lake of the Woods offering unrestricted access to their roads too, if you want to seek them out.
The Hippie Chick and I have been planning to fish this afternoon but haven’t decided where or for what. After our recent perch fishing trip, I wrote that there was just enough snow to make for good travel on a snowmobile and if that was the case, we’d probably try the perch hole again. We’ve lost a lot of that snow now, and I’m thinking that we might enjoy walking instead of snowmobiling. I’ll send out a quick update about that tomorrow morning. — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
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.