Minnesota Ice Fishing Reports Saved December thru March 2006 - 2007

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Congratulations! If you're snooping around in the fishing report archives, you are one of those dedicated anglers who spends the extra time it takes to become an expert at your craft!

     I respect folks who do their homework and that's why I have these reports archived. You can glean a lot of information about seasonal trends and movements of the fish in the Northern Minnesota, 1000 Grand Lakes Area. The archives are organized by quarters; 1- (January, February, March) 2- (April, May, June) 3- (July, August, September), 4- (October, November, December). When you study the fishing patterns and fish movements through these seasons, you might just see some interesting trends that will help you organize your strategy for your next fishing trip.

     I hope you find plenty here that will help and if you think it does you some good, let me know. I'd appreciate questions and comments that will in turn help me provide more meaningful reports for everyone. If you have a question Click Here.

February 2007 Fishing Reports

Ice Fishing Report! Jeff Sundin 2-13-07

    Well weíve discovered that starting from 30 degrees below zero is one way to make ten above feel like a heat wave. While itís not exactly balmy, at least itís safe to go outside again (at least a little) and there are a few anglers moving around again. On the promise of a continued warming trend, weíve got a busy week and weekend planned and with a little luck, there will be some more optimistic report coming in. Hereís a bit of what we have trickling in right now.

    One of the side effects of this cold snap has been an increase in the number and size of ice ridges forming especially on the larger lakes. Winnibigosh has two major ridges and several smaller branches to contend with. One of them runs out from roughly Tamarack Point West toward the North Shore. If youíre coming from Tamarack Bay and want to fish South of the ridge, youíll have to head toward shore at Tamarack, cross there and then head back out on to the lake.

    The second major ridge is running East/West from the South end Westward toward Moses Bar. Thereís a crossing near little stony that youíll use to fish the Center Bar and mid lake areas. I donít know where the crossing is on the West Side, so until I do, Iíd suggest contacting McArdle's or Becker's Resorts to get a run down on the West Side. Don't try crossing those ridges right now! There is open water and at least two vehicles have had near misses this week.

    The Perch action on the big lake isnít bad but according to my friend thatís conducting the creel census for the DNR, thereís a high percentage of smaller fish showing up in the bags right now. Occasional 10 inchers, with lots of 7 to 8 inch fish. The bottom line is that the action is fairly good, size is below average.

    We still have a couple of weekís worth of Walleye fishing and the reports have been consistent for the past few weeks. There are lots of smaller Walleye with an occasional keeper mixed in. The humps and mid lake bars have been fished heavily now and I think youíre better off looking for some new territory. Even though itís still winter to us, fish will begin staging closer to shore soon. Ice fishing for Walleye during the late part of the season has generally been better along steeper drop off areas along the breakline in 16 to 24 feet of water. Early morning, late afternoon prime time bite is the best.

    Crappie fishing? Scouting for new territory is the way to go. A friend of mine who has fish house rentals has been able to keep his customers over some decent Crappie fishing this week. His secret has been to keep scouting even after he finds a decent school of fish. When you locate a "good hole", fish it for a day or two and then get out of there and find some fresh fish. I think that is really important because the fish you leave behind tend to stay in that area and re-group when they're left undisturbed for a while. You can go back in a couple of weeks and try them again.

    Like I said, reports are trickling in for now. Let's hope the predicted warm up arrives and we can get out and do some good scouting this week. If so, there will be some more solid information coming as we head into that magic March panfish bite.

Thermometer Reading 30 Below Zero F

Here's another of many images from the deep freeze zone. The past couple of days we've had highs reaching back up to 10 or 12 above and a few anglers have gotten back out on the ice.


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January 2007 Fishing Reports

Ice Fishing Report! Jeff Sundin 1-17-07

     If you were worried about ice conditions, have no fear. This weekís cold snap has been a regular ice-making machine, adding as much as six inches of new ice to the good base that we already had. We fished Lake Trout this weekend on one of the deep clear lakes that usually freezes late and even out there, the ice was solid, clear and about 14 inches thick. In fact, I was surprised to see that several of the Trout anglers had driven trucks out onto the ice.

     The Lake Trout opener is getting to be kind of a tradition with a buddy and me so we went even though the conditions were kind of tough. It was 15 degrees below zero when I drove into the lake and we had to use the portable fish houses on every hole we drilled. My Otter really comes in handy when it gets cold like this, but even the greatest portables slow you down when youíre trying to drill lots of holes looking for active fish.

     In spite of the tough fishing conditions, there were glimpses of hope that kept us out there fishing into mid afternoon. I broke one nice fish off at about 9:30 AM and had several sightings on the Vexilar. Matt caught two smaller fish that he released and also had several sightings. Even though we felt like the chances were good to pick up a couple of "keepers", we never wound up connecting so I am currently fish-less and photo-less. Iím hoping to take advantage of the warm up during the next couple of days and hopefully Iíll catch my annual quota of a couple of local Lakers for the frying pan.

     Even though folks are still picking up some decent Walleyes, especially early in the morning, the hot bite that we enjoyed earlier this winter has slowed down. Many of the ex-Walleye aficionados have now turned their attention to Crappies and a few others have turned to Bluegills to take up the slack. Reports for both are coming in fairly good, although fishing traffic is still fairly light compared to past seasons.

     Crappie anglers are doing best by seeking out isolated deeper holes and capitalizing on the fresh, albeit smaller schools of fish. 25 to 35 feet of water, softer bottom with the presence of insect larvae seem to be the ticket for finding these fish. If you catch a couple of fish that have been feeding on bugs, youíll know it because you can see evidence of the larvae in their throat, the roof of their mouth or you may even see mud or other soft material in their teeth. If you havenít got any fish to examine, but you still think youíre in good territory, watch your Vexilar for a while and make note of any signs of action. Often, youíll see fish that look but wonít eat, return to these areas at prime time, dusk or early morning.

     Conventional Crappie methods and presentations are working fine. I like blade baits like the Frostee, Demon and Swimminí Jigs. Tail hooked minnows are general best and I like to run the hook parallel to the dorsal fin. Fish these small groups of fish for a couple of days until they get thinned out, when the action slows itís time to move on.

     Bluegill anglers are finding their fish shallower and closer to weed growth. The big trick with the Ďgills is to keep the bait as nearly motionless as you can. Hold the bait almost still a few inches over the bottom and set the hook at the first sign of a bite. Heavier than average baits work well as long as theyíre small. If your selection isnít quite that sophisticated, you can use the conventional ants, glow bugs or even a plain hook and add extra split shot sinkers a foot up the line. Tip your hook with a wax worm and youíre in business.

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Picture, 15 Below Zero

The cold snap! Fifteen Below should stiffen up the old ice sheet.

Walleye, Ice Fishing Winnibigosh

Walleye fishing has slowed, but you can still pick up enough for a fish fry.


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December 2006 Fishing Reports

Ice Fishing Report! Jeff Sundin 12-28-06

    Ice conditions right now in the Northland are about as favorable as youíre going to get. Weíve had a great week for ice making with very light wind, almost no snow cover and daytime highs staying just below freezing. Ice thickness varies somewhat from lake to lake, but weíve been fishing the over deep water and finding 12 to 14 inches of good solid ice. In fact, Iím surprised that I havenít seen some pickups running around on Lake Winnie already. I think a lot of folks are like me in that that donít want to be the first one to drive out, but as soon as we see some other folks out there weíre gonna be right behind Ďem.

    Fishing continues to be decent. The really hot "pre Christmas" bite has slowed a little, but fishing action is consistent enough to keep most of us happy. Iím usually an advocate of fishing Walleyes during "prime time" sunrise and sunset, but our last couple of trips out, it seems like the Walleye bite is actually more reliable at mid day. Yesterday, we didnít get to the lake until about 1:30 PM and our first spot produced fish almost immediately, then just when youíd expect that later afternoon run to kick in, there was a minor spurt of small fish and then, game over. Whether it was just our spot or not is hard to know for sure, but Iíll be shooting for earlier start times this week just to test my theory.

    Walleye location (for us) has been right up on top of structure. If we find a main lake hump that tops out in the low 20-foot range (20 to 23 feet), we find the deeper edges and then drill holes from there back up onto the top. Weíve been moving from one hole to another trying to "cherry pick" the active fish. Weíve been watching our Vexilars and seeing lots of fish move up to the bait, sit there and wait for a couple of minutes before they finally bite. The only way that Iíve found to speed up the action has been to get my bait out of the hole for a minute, freshen up the bait and then drop it back down. If you donít get hit in 30 seconds or so, move on to another hole.

    Jigging baits like the Forage Minnow or Swedish Pimple are still working, but I had some better action yesterday using the larger size Demons tipped with some really nice Emerald Shiners I got at Fredís Bait. Hook the shiner in the center by running the hook along the backbone parallel to the dorsal fin. Get the bait about 12 inches off the bottom and let it sit still to trigger more of those finicky biters.

    Perch fishing is still up for grabs. Weíre finding some nice Perch on some of the main lake humps, but certainly not all of them. Some folks are sticking with the shallow water and continue to have good action there too. No matter where you decide to look for them, the secret is apparently to find better schools of minnows. The more bait we see on our flashers. The more Perch have been in the area. Once you find them, jigging spoons, small jigging Rapalas and the Perch Eye imitators are all working equally well.

    I usually have a tidbit or two about Crappies. Initially we heard some good reports about the Crappie fishing, but once everyone started zeroing in on the Walleyes, the talk about Crappies kind of slacked off. Iím not fishing them either, so I donít have any great stories to tell. Iíll keep my ear to the ground and see what I can dig up this week.

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Walleye Picture 12-28-06 Arne Danielson


ATV on Ice, Lake Winnie 12-20-06

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Ice Ahead! Jeff Sundin 11-26-06

    The past week delivered a bit of a setback for ice fishing enthusiasts by dishing out some brutally nice days. Sunny and calm with daytime temperatures in the high 40 to low 50 degree range doesnít exactly put the ice maker into high gear. In spite of the nice weather though, there are still several smaller lakes with a nice clear layer of skim ice and as of Sunday 11/26 a handful of the larger area lakes are skimmed over with some fairly good looking ice as well. As usual, the deeper lakes and lakes with lots of wind exposure are still open except some ice around the edges.

    We checked the public landing at Jessie Lake on Saturday and found the lake frozen across most of its surface, but when we stepped out a few feet from shore the thin ice cracked and broke easily. The good news is that daytime temperatures just barely topped 30 degrees so ice will be forming steadily all night long. Every day without snow is a bonus now and with a few cold nights and barring any heavy rain or snow this week, it looks like weíll have a decent base of ice to work with. The forecast of falling temperatures and light precipitation ought to play right into the plan and those of you that are anxious to get into the Pike spearing season next week should have a least a few good spots to choose from.

Jessie Lake Landing 11-25-06

Stepping out a few feet from the landing revealed that the ice is far too thin for foot traffic just yet. But it's heading in the right direction. Sharpen the auger blades!

Jessie Lake ice cover 11-25-06

Jessie Lake located 15 miles North of Deer River had about an inch of ice cover across the entire lake on Saturday.


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