According to Lynne Powell at Fred's Bait in Deer River, traffic was steady on Saturday. Most of the ice fishermen that stopped by were on their way to Red Lake, she said. But there were a handful of anglers staying closer to home and Lake Winnibigoshish, Cutfoot Sioux and Bowstring are becoming dotted with ice fishing shelters.
According to Powell, there was at least on angler who drove away from the store with the intention of driving his pickup truck onto the ice at Lake Winnie. That piqued my interest, so I drove up there this morning to see for myself.
If there is anyone attempting to drive onto the lake, I couldn't see the evidence. There were however, several pickup trucks using the shoreline ice as a parking area for their trucks. From the shoreline, they were using 4 Wheelers to move their permanent shelters on to the main lake.
On Lake Winnibigoshish (11/30) John Seekon, The Pines Resort observed a dozen, maybe more shelters on Tamarack Bay. But since the landing from his resort isn't open yet, there aren't any first hand reports from the anglers in Tamarack Bay.
John is hustling right now, getting plow trucks and fishhouses ready and it's not going to be long before he'll have some shelters on the water too. Contact The Pines Resort for lodging and ice shelter rentals on Lake Winnibigoshish .
Leaving the Pines, I headed over The Birches Landing where I found another handful of vehicles parked in the lot.
There's an ice ridge already formed at the landing, so nobody has venterured onto the ice with a truck from this spot. ATV's can manage though and that's most likely the way that another dozen or so shelters have found their way onto mid lake structure near the East side.
Stopping at Little Cutfoot, I found several places iwhere ice fishermen had already set up and fished from portable shelters. But I was too early for the folks that will head to the small lake today. I didn't drill any fresh holes, but my walk on the ice was very easy. Snow cover is minimal and judging by the old ice holes I looked at, ice thickness is probably somewhere around 10 inches.
From Bowstring Lake (11/30) Geiger's Trails End Resort; "Our boys paid a visit to Upper Red Lake on Saturday. They found 13 inches of ice and plenty of Walleyes too. On Red Lake, the crew spotted ice fishermen moving around the lake in Pickup Trucks".
On Bowstring, there are ATV's on the ice, but so far, 8 inches is the most we've found. That's good solid ices with very little snow cover, so anglers on foot and/or 4 Wheelers are in good shape. We'll be opening our landing soon, but do not advise vehicle traffic at this time.
We do have Cabins and Day Houses available. For availability, Contact >> Geiger's Trails End Resort .
Enough is enough and for many, they've seen enough pictures of fish and heard enough reports about their buddies catching fish. For these anxious anglers, today marks the official beginning of their ice fishing season.
With the exception of the deepest water lakes, ice conditions are good on most of the lakes in the Itasca Area.
Ice thickness varies, with reports of ice ranging anywhere between 5 and 12 inches. Snow cover is very light and ATV travel is beginning to replace foot traffic on some lakes.
From Bowstring Lake (11/29) Geiger's Trails End Resort; "We are seeing a bit of traffic on the lake. There are ice fishermen on
4 wheelers venturing out to explore. We've been checking the ice and are seeing at least 6 inches of solid ice. Be especially careful going to the North end because of the springs.
We think that it's still a little early to give everyone the Green light, but we will be opening our access shortly.
We do have Cabins and Day Houses available. For availability, Contact >> Geiger's Trails End Reosrt .
From Upper Red Lake (11/29) Chad Benson says; "Things are quite a bit ahead of schedule this year as far as the ice goes on Upper Red Lake.
Last weekend was a busy weekend on the lake, with plenty of ATV traffic running around looking for the best walleye bite. Most everyone I talked to caught plenty and threw a bunch back.
There is anywhere from 9-12 inches of ice out in front of our landing. Judging by the upcoming forecast, it won’t be long before we'll be driving out.
Walleyes are being caught anywhere from 7-11 ft of water around the lake. Gold, Red Glow & Perch pattern jigs & spoons have been catching plenty of fish". Chad's Red Lake Rentals
Be sure to tune in today because I don't want you to miss seeing this episode of Fish Ed. Last winter, I got to join host Jon Thelen on this episode and guess what? We encountered a huge school of Crappies that were on a Hot Pre-Storm bite. It's a show that you don't want to miss.
Find Fox Sports North on you TV listings and tune in this morning at 10:30 Learn More >> Fish Ed TV on Fox Sports North
(11/27) On Wednesday, the West side of Deer Lake was stubbornly holding on to a few small patches of open water. The entire east side of the lake appears to be ice covered though and I don't think it's going to be more than a few days before the whole lake is locked up.
Across the road at Moose Lake, the ice cover looked good as I sat and watched an ice fisherman drilling and testing the ice on his way to his fishing hole. Each hole that he drilled appeared to be taking the auger bit into about 8 to 10 inches of ice solid.
There was some snow cover on the ice, but there were also large spots where the wind had cleared the surface.
On the East side, there were already some old tracks leading away from the landing. A young man was preparing his portable shelter to head out there and told me that the tracks he'd be following were not of his making.
Except for these two anglers, there wasn't anyone on the lake and there were no other shelters on the lake. I expect that to change this weekend as the weather warms and anglers get the itch to get back outside.
Elsewhere in the Grand Rapids area, friends were on the ice somewhere deep inside of secret territory. Inbound texts from Zach Dagel showing pictures of some very nice sunfish served to light a fire under me. So too did the images of Crappies caught by Reed Ylitalo that I saw yesterday.
Now the question; Do I go deer hunting or fishing this weekend? Hmm... Maybe some Multi-Tasking is in order, maybe I can do...
For today, I hope that you have special plans with special people. I Do and I'm Thankful. I Will Be Seeing You ... :)!!
For anyone who KNOWS about me, saying that I might be "a few ... behind schedule" is usually an understatement!
It's been that way forever and I don't expect that it'll change too soon. But, I always have an explanation, usually having something to do with Multi-Tasking of the highest magnitude! So here goes...
For me, these past few days have reminded me of being back in school, juggling work assignments and falling behind on some, to get ahead on others.
I've known the there was plenty of good ice to fish on and I've known too that you'd be interested to hear about it. But I've been tied up with another assignment; one that will make it a lot more fun for you to follow these pages later on.
In other words, I may have fallen a bit behind schedule in terms of being the first one on the ice to fish. But later, I'm going to enjoy being ahead of the curve from a wider field of view.
Picture this; I was juggling classes, falling behind in one, so that I could get ahead in another. And just think, I did it all just for you!
Luckily, observations I made during my travels, along with fishing reports from friends have rescued me by providing fodder for today's report.
(11/26) The West side of Lake Mille Lacs was frozen as far as one could see from Highway 169 on Tuesday.
The Ice was smooth, clear and free of snow for a mile, maybe more. There was a visible ridge of ice in the distance, probably cause by strong winds breaking up the thinner ice in the mid-section of the lake.
There was a handful of portable fishing shelters located near shore in a variety of places. There were no permanent shelters or ATV's on the ice and from what I could see; foot travel appears to be the only mode of transportation so far.
(11/26) Except for Roosevelt and Thunder Lakes, which are still both partially open; there was evidence of light fishing traffic on almost all of the smaller lakes that can be seen along the route between Garrison and Deer River.
Bay Lake, Serpent, Rabbit, Emily and others either had traffic on them or had frozen ice piles where anglers had previously augured holes.
There were a couple of permanent shelters in the mix, indicating that there had been some light ATV traffic, but still, most of the shelters were portables and likely placed by anglers traveling on foot.
(11/26) From The Iron Range, Greg Clusiau wrote; "Lake ice is firming up very well and I’ve made a few successful fishing trips thus far. Two have been to small first-to-freeze lakes that generously give up crappies of the smaller variety. I know, small fish, but at this stage of the game I’ll take what Mother Nature offers, as I really don’t have a choice in the matter.
Sandwiched in between the panfish trips was an outing on Upper Red Lake. Here, we went a mile out, finding 10” of ice and 9’ of water, which kept us on hungry walleye all day long.
This lake never ..." Learn More >> Read Greg Clusiau's Full Report
(11/26) Grand Rapids Crappie Lakes Productive For Reed Ylitalo (11/26) - Reed Ylitalo reports that the ice conditions on Grand Rapids area Crappie Lakes are good. Playing his location(s) close to the vest, Ylitalo provides these clues for Crappie ... Read >> Grand Rapids Fishing Report .
(11/26) On Upper Red Lake (11/26) Gary Riegel fished this weekend dropped a note that said; "Ended up with 6 fish missed two. There was 10 inches of ice, during the day, we had had some breaks open up." Gary called it a bad day catching, but good day fishing.
Q) Hey Jeff, I'm an on-air volunteer at KAXE, the radio station where I met you 2 or 3 years ago. I'm looking for your opinion on buying a new ice auger. I'm 67, in pretty good shape, spear 60-70 % of my winter fishing and I'm due for a good new ice auger. Gas vs Battery? 8" vs 10"? Good model and brand of each?
A) Well Dave, you are not the only one asking this question. In fact, I'm trying to make the same decision for myself right now and after already shelling out some hard earned cash on augers that have disappointed me, I'm trying to get it right this time too.
Tackling this one is tricky because I hate to denigrate a product by citing examples from sampling polls that are too small to provide solid scientific information.
But based solely on my own observations, ice augers on the market today are becoming generally less dependable, not more.
I can't see that it matters if they happen to be Red, Green, Yellow or Blue. Either me, or somebody that I know has had one of them and sooner or later they've been disappointed by too many of them.
I picked up a shiny Red 4-Stroke last winter and at first, it appeared to be the ideal machine. It was quiet, easy starting and absolutely smoke free. The honeymoon was short though because before winter's end, it failed me twice; The first time, it conked out half way through drilling a hole in the morning. The second time, it failed to start at all, leaving me stranded on Devils Lake for almost a week. I spent my entire trip without ever producing a single hole with that auger. Luckily, I had friends who were having better luck with their augers (at the time).
I'll admit that we are a demanding bunch, hard core anglers who ask the machines to perform no matter how rugged the conditions. But that said, I still think that we should be able to expect one season of relatively trouble free operation from ANY new auger.
From what I've seen, every manufacturer has some tried and true models, machines that have been around and have a proven track record. So I believe that there are still enough good ones out there to provide you with some good choices.
Consider this, you and I have ... read full story >> Auger Wars? NOPE, Just Drilling For Answers
That was sure a waste of brain power, because there are already reports about anxious anglers fishing all over the state.
Upper Red Lake is getting the lion's share of the press right now and on Saturday, great weather and 10 inches of solid ice combined to produce numerous reports of good fishing.
Walleyes were active in water depths of 6 to 9 feet on shoreline breaks. Typical early season presentations like jigging spoons were productive, but there was a lot of chatter about dead sticking providing more action, especially for quality size fish.
One of my favorite ways to set up for early season Walleyes is to use a jigging rod in one hole while I watch another rod that I have rigged up with a large Frostee Spoon tipped with a dorsal hooked live minnow.
For me, lightly hooking the minnow parallel to the dorsal fin provides the best results. The Frostee rides vertically, making it easily visible to the fish. The minnow rides horizontally and looks very natural. The kind of minnow that you choose depends on how much movement you want to show the fish. A Shiner for instance will sit almost motionless, while a lively Rainbow Chub moves a lot, especially when it's approached by a fish.
I know that everyone has their favorites, but on Red Lake, there are two lures that I have really had good with.
I believe that last year, using Foo Flyers and Slick Jigs allowed me to catch a few more fish than I caught using the more traditional jigging spoons. Not that the spoons won't produce, they do. But there's a certain time, especially during the early season when the Red Lake Walleyes are aggressive. The larger profile and added movement helps call in the curious fish, and once they're on the move, they strike.
To get maximum performance from either of these lures, they need to be dressed with either a whole minnow or with an artificial tail. It's the trailering tail that allows me to make these baits move out, away from my hole where they can help attract fish from further distances.
Look here, this how I rig the Foo Flyer and the Slick Jig when I'm fishing with whole minnows. You can set them up with a variety of artificial tails too, but I typically use live bait with these jigs because either one of them has the ability to perform as a dead stick lure too.
In the Grand Rapids Area,
anglers have been slower to get out on the ice, I think largely because they've been distracted by the Deer Hunting season.
There are a few folks sniffing around though and soon, some of the ice fishermen are going to drill some holes.
Further west, Crappie and Walleye fishermen are already fishing on the shallower, early freezing prairie type lakes near Alexadria. Reports have been good for both Walleye and Crappie.
A road trip to the Twin Cities this Thursday gave me a chance to see a lot of lakes. From what I can tell, all but the deepest and most stubborn of Minnesota's lakes are giving in to the big chill, even in the metro area. In fact, it would be fair to estimate that 90% of the water I saw was frozen already. The rest? This warm up will likely slow the freeze up, but they won't be far behind.
Lakes like Thunder Lake near Remer and Roosevelt at Outing were beginning to freeze, but remained mostly open water. On Roosevelt Lake, there were still a couple rafts of stubborn ducks, toughing it out until the last minute before heading South.
Lake Mille Lacs was still sporting a lot of open water too, but there was plenty of ice forming near shore and in the shallow bays.
For the rest of the trip down, all of the other smaller lakes that I could see from the highways were frozen.
The same was true of my return trip along the alternate route, Highway 65 on Friday afternoon. Excluding the rivers, land locked lakes of every shape and dimension appeared to be ice covered already. At McGregor, even Big Sandy Lake was fully frozen over.
I was surprised that I didn't see evidence of anyone testing their favorite ice fishing holes. But in light of reports from further North, it wouldn't surprise me if that changes this weekend.
On Lake Winnibigoshish (11/22) John Seekon, The Pines Resort sent some photos of the ice on Big Winnie where he says; "Winnie has been frozen up for over a week now and there are reports of 5 to 7 inches of ice near shore. I talked to a local gentleman today who was headed out from the birches landing."
John is hustling right now, getting plow trucks and fishhouses ready for the upcoming ice fishing season.
After another blustery day on Wednesday, it sure does look good to see a forecast that calls for blue skies, calm winds and moderating temperatures.
The chaos created by all of that wind on Wednesday left me sort of speachless for new ideas. I did get in the truck and take a tour of the area, but there hadn't been any significant new developments concerning the ice conditions.
You KNOW, that a watched pot never boils, so for a little while, lets leave the ice alone to freeze itself. With calm breezes and temperatures in the single digits, conditions will likely change a lot between now and Saturday morning. It will be there, thicker and stronger when we get back from catching up on some notes.
The proposed rule that will change the protected slot size for Walleyes on Lake Winnie has passed the legislative process and nowawaits the signature of the DNR comissioner Tom Landwher.
Under the new rule, the bag limit remains at 6 fish and the protected slot will be 18 to 23 inches. That means that anglers will be allowed to posess 6 Walleye up to 18 inches long, unless they catch and choose to keep one fish over 23 inches. In that case a fisherman would be allowed 5 fish under 18 inches and 1 fish over 23 inches.
The Minnesota DNR announced more restrictive regulations for Walleye angling during the upcoming winter season.
“More restrictive walleye regulations are not an indication of any biological problems with the walleye population on Upper Red Lake,” said Gary Barnard, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor. “The current walleye fishery is in excellent shape, but the great fishing has attracted considerably more angling pressure, which resulted in walleye harvest exceeding the safe harvest range for the first time since walleye angling reopened in 2006.”
Effective Dec. 1, anglers can only keep three walleye, and the possession limit is also three. Anglers must immediately release all walleye from 17- to 26-inches. Only one walleye in possession may be longer than 26 inches.
Grand Rapids Area Lakes are divided into 3 catergories right now. The small, shallow water lakes that froze early last week, are now covered with ice in the 4 to 6 inch range and there are already ice fishermen showing up on them. Deep water lakes tremain wide open and mid-depth lakes that have expansive flats now feature frozen shorelines, with open centers.
On Upper Red Lake, fishing reports are now wide spread. Several of the rental operators and resorts are offering open accesses for foot travel. A couple of operators are cautiously allowing ATV travel, but issuing warnings about moving outside of their "safe territory".
Most operators are reporting ice thickness of 6 inches, with a couple of them mentioning as much as 8 inches. So far, the exploration on Red Lake is limited to the 1st major breakline at water depths of 6 to 8 feet. That's where the 'early ice bite" typically begins anyway and where most anglers will first test their luck.
On Red Lake, ice fishing before Thanksgiving isn't that uncommon, but in the Washkish area, even locals anglers are surprised by how good this early ice is.
Ironically, there aren't a lot of ice fishermen out there yet. That's because of the punishing winds that have come along with the cold weather that delivered the early freeze up.
The weekend forecast calls for moderating temperatures and any improvement will encourage the first wave of heavy fishing traffic.
Q) Does the Mississippi freeze over to ice fish on? We recently bought a home on the River (in the Bemidji area); and we were wondering about fishing conditions there. And/or if you could direct me to sites that would give more information on fishing that area.
A) Mary Beth, you are located very close to some fantastic lakes for ice fishing and I think that you will enjoy much greater success if you focus on fishing the lakes, rather than that particular stretch of river.
Since I don't know exactly where you're located, I can't rule out the prospect that you would find some good fishing on the river, near your home. In order for your plan to come together though, luck is gonna have to be on your side.
There are very likely to be some areas that do freeze thick enough to support ice fishing traffic. The problem is transportation to and from the safe spots. Unless you happen to live right in front of a slack current area, moving along the river, even on foot is going to get too risky.
Even if you do have a safe spot to fish close to home, it would be really really lucky if that single area just happens to hold fishable populations consistently. So during the winter, the odds of finding a great fishing spot right outside your front door are lower than I'd like.
That said; I do know a little bit about that stretch of river and at times, it could get very good. Walleye, Perch and pike are all available and maybe even a Musky. So if I were in your shoes, here's how I would operate.
During spring (early summer) and fall, I would spend some of my fishing time on the river. You will learn the river fast by finding the deeper holes at the river bends and treating each one as if it was a small lake. Active fish move up onto the shallow flats adjacent to these holes to feed.
During winter, I would drive the short distance to some of the very good lakes in your neighborhood. There are virtually dozens of them within a half hour of your house that provide opportunities for everything from Sunfish to Monster pike.
I'm not too sure about other speicific sites that provide information about the places that you want to fish. I do know this; every time you ask a question, it encourages somebody to respond. So my advice, keep the dial tuned here and ask a lot of questions. We'll do our best!
If there's ice on the lake today, then that means it's for real and it's there for the rest of this winter. But you're probably noticing more open water in the area this morning. That's because some of the lakes that were already frozen, have now partially re-opened.
What happened was that gusty Northwest winds ripped across the surface of Itasca Area Lakes on Monday causing thin ice to break up. Large, shallow water lakes like Bowstring had already skimmed over with ice. But there were areas where the ice cover was too thin to withstand the beating delivered by the 25 MPH winds.
Reports like the update that I got from Mike Collins on Monday were not uncommon, but it was Mike who said it the most succinctly; "Nature not to be rushed; windblown steamers have opened".
On my tour of the area yesterday afternoon, I noticed that most of the small lakes remain frozen. Many of them froze before the recent snowfall and are now also covered with the powdery White stuff.
I was concerned that maybe the wind would have caused heavy drifting, but apparently there just wasn't enough snow cover for anything serious to occur.
The weather forecast calls for at least 3 more days of perfect conditions for making ice. At 5 AM when I wrote this, the temperature outside of my window was 7 degrees. The predicted high for today is 15 and the winds will be much calmer than yesterday.
First thing this morning I have to take a quick trip over to Grand Rapids so I'll be taking the back roads tour of the area. Taking a quick look at my handheld "crystal ball", I'd be willing to bet that there are some more of those steamy, ice making photos in my future.You KNOW what? You might even catch me taking a picture in your own yard!! That is if you live on a lake. By the way, that reminds me; if you do live on a lake, I would love to have permission to sneak in for an occasional snap shot. Ice conditions, scenery, sunsets, if it looks cool to you, it probably would make a great photo, so please Click To >> LET ME KNOW!
By now you've already read that it's too late to be the first one out on the ice and as you'll see in the following story by Greg Clusiau, Walleye fishermen are already hoofing it onto Red Lake.
By this weekend, ooportunities will be numerous and it looks like maybe, just maybe, the weather will cooperate a little bit too. Wouldn't a beautiful day on the ice just be lovely?
(11/18) From The Iron Range, Greg Clusiau wrote; "A few daring souls have already made the trip up to Upper Red Lake for a crack at some first-ice walleyes. They made it out, experiencing 4” of ice, and found poor fishing, which really surprised me. A recent study found plenty of walleyes waiting to be caught and it looks to be another banner year of fishing on Upper Red Lake. As a matter-of-fact, I’m thinking of abandoning the last weekend of deer season for some ..." Read More >> Read Greg Clusiau's Field Report .
(11/18) By now you've already read that it's too late to be the first one out on the ice and as you'll see in the following story by Greg Clusiau, Walleye fishermen are already hoofing it onto Red Lake.
By this weekend, ooportunities will be numerous and it looks like maybe, just maybe, the weather will cooperate a little bit too. Wouldn't a beautiful day on the ice just be lovely?
After 7 days of Deer hunting without any sign of an antler, I was beginning to calculate how many fried egg sandwiches it would take to feed me for the rest of the winter.
If I added a fish fry here and there, an occasional Pheasant, a pork chop every other Tuesday; then everything would be fine. If I don't get a Deer, it won't be the end of the world, I thought. Plus as a bonus, if I don't get a buck, then I won't have to mess around in this cold weather skinning, cutting and packing it all up.
Well, that was then, this is now and I'll bet You Know The Rest .... :)!! >> CLICK <<
"Single Digit Saturday" forced a lot of ice onto the Grand Rapids area lakes. In fact Saturday morning marked the first tour I've taken where I saw more ice, than I did open water. Even the late freezing, deep water lakes are losing ground to this cold snap.
In some areas, it's already too late to be the first one onto the early ice. There were a half dozen pictures of anglers who fished yesterday; most of them reporting 3 to 4 inches of ice on the lakes that they fished.
I KNOW, I'm dragging my heels about mentioning the lakes, there's more than one reason for that. But if you get in your vehicle and take a short drive, it won't be hard to find an appealing lake to target.
I will tell you is that one small lake that I like to target for early ice Crappies during the early ice season was completely frozen over yesterday.
Because I don't want to tell you where to go and then wind up with your widow's attorney calling me on the phone next week; I'll refrain from being too specific.
According to the DNR, 4 inches of ice is a good rule of thumb for walking to (and back) your fishing spot. There's no need to push it because at the rate we're going, there will be dozens of lakes with ice thick enough for hoofing it to your honey hole by next weekend. That will still be early, really early!
Mike Collins checked back in with a comment and question; "By dawns light I have open water patches directly in front of my cabin on the Northeast side of Bowstring Lake. Otherwise lake appears to be mostly iced over. To change the subject ...
I would like to try Sturgeon fishing next year any recommendations? - Mike Collins
A) For aspiring Sturgeon fishermen in Northern Minnesota, the Rainy River is the most productive destination. The spring spawning run is in itself, a very popular destination for fishermen during April and early May.
The fishing is not complicated; A medium heavy rod like a Musky bucktail rod, a flippin stick or even a heavy action Bass casting rod will do the trick. The rigs are set up a lot like Lindy Rigs using a heavy sinker and a short Snell with a 2/0 Salmon Egg hook. The bait most often used is live night Crawlers.
Productive areas are typically the edges of deep water holes. The shallower flats found immediately adjacent to these holes are usually reliable and the fish range everywhere from Baudette to International Falls.
Earlier this spring, there was a very good article about some Sturgeon fishermen who were using side imaging to spot the fish, then positioning upstream to try and catch it. More like hunting than fishing, the system seemed interesting to me and could be a lot of fun.
NOTE: I will see about finding that article myself, but if somebody remembers the one I'm thinking of, please do us a favor and give us a heads up about where to find it.
(11/16) Gus' Place Resort, Ball Club Lake; - Pre-season ice fishing report; "The last couple of weeks we have been hosting deer hunters hunting in the Chippewa national forest. After the preoccupation with hunting and as the hunters fill their tags we will soon be thinking about ice fishing.
Although Ball Club Lake most likely has several weeks before we will be ice fishing, recent cold weather has given the ice fishing a good start. Nearby small, shallow lakes are freezing over, but Ball Club Lake is quite deep and we have ice around the shoreline only.
I expect walkout fishing mid-December to around Christmas and even sooner on the South end of the lake.
As in past recent years we will renting ice fishing “day” houses available for both angling and spearing and of course cabin rentals never close here at Gus’ Place. The day houses will not go out till we have around 16 inches of ice, usually after Christmas.
If you haven’t done so; this is an excellent time to get out your winter gear, make sure you can find everything and fire up that auger. The last head ach you need is an auger that won’t start on your first trip out on the ice.
Call us anytime for ice conditions, prices and of course reservations" - Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort
It is safe to say that we no longer need to worry about IF there will be ice fishing before Thanksgiving. Since we already KNOW that, we might just as well focus on where it will be. If this weather keeps up, there will be solid, fishable ice in a lot of locations around the state.
For all of you aspiring Cub Reporters out there; Thank You very much for the pictures and comments. The updates came in so fast on Friday that I won't be able to use all of them, especially in light of how fast the conditions are changing.
Please keep 'em coming though and be sure to let the ice get safe before you start hoofing it to the honey hole. But once you do, let us see a picture when you get your first fish. Small, medium of large, it doesn't matter; just let us know when you get one!!
"On the first run through, one dude drills, while the other follows with a sonar, dipping the transducer in each new hole. Sonar guy keeps driller guy on target with depth, as he also checks for fish with a portable unit. When he sees something that looks like a good fish, sonar guy might also trace an “F” or “BF” (big fish) in the snow, which assures they’ll X-mark-the-spot with a tip-up next run through.
At the end of a bait set run, each fisherman ..." Read Story >> Progressive Tip-Up Tactics On Ice
Remember that prediction? YOU KNOW, the one about getting a report from somebody that they'd been ice fishing before Thanksgiving. Well just when I thought it might get interesting, it happened; this just in!
On Thursday, 11-13-14 Ryan Elm, Lindstrom Minnesota droped us a line and said; "Already fishing behind my house in Lindstrom, MN. Its November 13th and I love it !! 3 inches of ice so far.
Ryan, Thank You! This is the first report we received from anybody that's already been on the ice in Minnesota this season. Combining the weather forecast with current conditions and it doesn't look like you'll be alone for too long out there. Enjoy the peace and quiet while you still have time!
Q) From Tom Glinski; "Would you know if there would be any ice forming on the Big Winne yet?
Tom, Most of the lake is still wide open, but as you can see by the photos from Williams Narrows webcam, ice is beginning to form. As of this morning, ice covers the bay (First River) between Williams Narrows and Little Cutfoot Sioux. On Big Cutfoot Sioux, the view still shows open water over most of the lake.
Cutfoot will take longer to freeze than the big lake, but conditions are perfect for making us right now. In fact, the next couple of days will be calm and cold; ideal conditions from an ice anglers point of view.
On Friday, 11-14-14 Mike Collins, Bowstring Minnesota droped us a line saying; "Good Morning! Lake is freezing over now. Should be iced over later today. Will be tough explaining going fishing on Thanksgiving day!!
OH MAN Mike! Things are changing fast these days. After last nights dip into the ZERO degree range, I'll bet that we'll already be back home from our first fishing trip before thanksgiving!! Thank you for the Picture!!
Be sure to tune in, you won't want to miss this one! First, North Dakota for walleye action on Devils Lake and then back to Northern Minnesota for winter crappie action.
Fish Ed TV helps anglers of any skill level catch more fish. Not only does host Jon Thelen show anglers exactly how to maximize techniques and tactics, but viewers also get ... Read Story >> Fish Ed TV on Fox Sports North
I spent way too much time working yesterday and didn't allow enough time to get out and check the ice conditions. I think that's okay though, because around here, nothing has changed!
Looking ahead, I see that conditions for making ice just keep getting better and better. Overnight lows in the single digits, calm winds and a couple of days to work their magic and voila; we will be seeing ice, soon.
Hunters in the field for the Minnesota Deer Hunting Opener bagged fewer Deer this year; 33,000 fewer to be exact. That's according the press release issued by the MN DNR on Tuesday. After the first 3 days of firearms hunting, registrations totaled 54,000. Combined with Archery registrations, that brings the year to date total to 67,000 Deer compared to the 2013 YTD total of 100,000.
“Comparing this year’s harvest to harvests in previous years doesn’t necessarily reflect hunter opportunity or the number of deer on the landscape in 2014,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. This year’s lower harvest is by design because regulations were implemented to place more deer – particularly does – off limits to increase Minnesota’s deer population.
Does are always safe from me anyway, so the reduction in "Doe Permits" hasn't affected my hunting season at all. Ironically though, I've seen some does this year, not a lot, but more than I'm used to seeing.
Maybe that means that there are a few more Deer than I thought, or maybe it just means that by hunters not bagging them, they are still around to keep me company in the stand.
Where I hunt, it's always taken a long time to see a buck. That part of the hunt hasn't changed this season at all. So far I haven't seen a single Deer that had antlers of any length.
Patience being my strong suit, I will keep on keeping on until Mr. Big shows up, or until the season closes, whichever comes first.
Today is Thursday and You Know what that means; with a teeny weeny bit of luck, the Thursday effect just might kick in and produce a sighting. Yes, it could happen, stranger things have happened before!!
I KNOW!! It's just a guess, and there's no sign of hard water anywhere nearby. So I'm stepping out on a limb a little, but my customized Cub Reporter, miniature size, sub-compact crystal ball is tuned up purdee good. That means that at least it's an educated guess, one that I can stick with.
On Tuesday, air temperatures in the Itasca Area were already cold. The front that caused the entire ruckus had pushed south of our region days ago. The Silver lining for us was that even though we had to put up with the cold air, Grand Rapids and the surrounding territory was spared the heavy snow.
Overnight temperatures fell into the teens and the winds were calmer early this morning.
That is liable to inch the needle on the ice dial a little farther forward and I'm expecting to see some ice forming on a couple of the shallow lakes really soon.
On Tuesday, The Deer River gave in to the cold and locked up for the first time and so did a whole bunch of small, land-locked ponds. All of these frozen waters are small, shallow ponds that provide no opportunity for ice fishing; they are only a benchmark to help judge when freeze up will occur on larger lakes.
As of Tuesday, I did not see and significant ice cover on any of the lakes that I'd plan to fish during early ice. The landscape has definitely changed though, the look of winter is setting in; Grey trees, white roads and silver water have overtaken any remaining glimpse of fall colors.
Legendary walleye guide Tom Neustrom shares strategies for first-ice ‘eyes- By Jason Herter
The venison is neatly wrapped in butcher paper, labeled and squirreled away in the freezer; the orange outfit retired for ice fishing bibs and slip-on cleats. In a perfect world, there’s little snow and good, clean ice is forming throughout the Ice Belt.
Whether you call ice fishing’s honeymoon phase “early ice” or “first ice,” one thing is certain: it’s hard to beat, especially for walleyes.
Neustrom encourages anglers to hit up fall walleye spots during early ice ... Read Story >> Guide-Proven Walleye Plays For Early Ice
It's 5:00 AM and the wind is still blowing, it never stopped overnight and if you like open water, that's good news. It's good news for you because the strong winds are keeping the water moving and that's about the only thing standing in the way of a full scale freeze up.
On Monday, a quick tour of a few area lakes revealed that all of the area "fishing lakes" continue to have nearly 100% open water. There were a handful of shallow, proteced bays beginning to skim over with thin ice. The ice is trying to form on emergent vegeatation, but moving water is working against it. So the ice isn't going to form very quickly until we get a calm night.
According to the current forecast, Thursday though Saturday appear to be the days that will feature the best ice making conditions. Temperatures in the single digits and calmer conditions are likely to put the first serious sheets of ice on some of the shallower fishing waters in the Itasca area.
(11/11) From The Iron Range, Greg Clusiau wrote; "Upon reaching my truck, one of the land owners, who were gracious enough to allow me to hunt their property, approached me excitedly asking “did you get it?” I had no idea what she was talking about. She went on to say that shortly after I went into the woods, a large antlered buck had followed me in, walking on the same trail. I hate when that happens.
A solid effort over the weekend only allowed me to ..." Learn More >> Read Greg Clusiau's Full Report
It's been a long time since the Minnesota Deer Hunting opener started off differently for me. I think it's been about 10 years since I actually bagged a Deer on the opener. So even though Mr. Big hasn't made his presence known, my outlook for the season remains optimistic.
"My Oldest Child" Annalee on the other hand, already has a reason to smile. Hunting somewhere close to her home in Crookston, MN, she bagged herself a Doe on opening morning.
For the Evans clan, there was lots of excitement on opening day. Not only does their harvest already include 3 nice bucks, but from a Deer stand, one of them captured an unusual image.
Somewhere in the "Deer/Moose Lake" area, a Bull Moose made a cameo appearance this Saturday morning. As the hunting stands occupant watched in dis-belief, the Moose stopped and smiled for the camera, then strolled along the Deer trail, making room for a nice 6 point buck that became part of the harvest. You could say that chain of events proves that the Deer/Moose Lake area was aptly named.
For me, getting a glimpse of that Moose might be better than bagging a buck this season and knowing that it's within range of my own deer stand, I'm sort of hopeful, you never know, maybe he'll swing by to say hi at my place too.
On Sunday, I noticed that there were some tracks in the fresh snow. The problem was that they weren’t Deer tracks, but Wolf tracks instead. That’s fairly common where I hunt and it doesn’t mean that bagging a buck is out of the question, but it’s not likely that I’ll be bragging about seeing dozens of Deer either.
So I might as well focus on the countdown to Ice Fishing, which according to my own prediction, only allows 17 days between now and the target, Thanksgiving Day.
The ice on Sunday, covered many small ponds in the Deer River area. There were thin layers of ice along the outside edges of some very small lakes and along shallow rivers. The water line of emergent vegetation like Bulrushes along shoreline areas of larger lakes were beginning to skim over too.
The snowfall that occurred on Saturday night was modest, maybe an inch. But the air temperatures have remained cold and the snow that fell is still on the ground. The roads were ice covered and treacherous on Sunday morning and many still have some ice cover. The areas exposed to direct sunshine have cleared, especially on the well-travelled, major highways. But expect to find icy patches on most of the smaller county roads, even the paved ones.
The air temperatures are predicted to remain below freezing for the rest of this week and there's no sunshine in the outlook until Friday, if the forecast holds true.
That means that my outlook for first ice is on track, so we may just as well embrace winter and prepare for the ice fishing season; let's start with this.
"A shout echoes unanswered across the barren icepack of Minnesota’s massive Upper Red Lake. It’s hardly a call for help, much less a greeting. It’s veteran walleye guide Jonny Petrowske, proving a point about getting away from the crowd to corral first-ice ’eyes.
“If I yell at the top of my lungs and no one hears me, I’m far enough away from other anglers,” he grins.
Petrowske says that even aggressive walleyes get skittish when clamorous hordes of winter warriors overrun the ice. Since the only reply to his thunderous vociferations was ..." Read Article >> Red Lake First-Freeze Walleyes
Wintery colors of the sky, the cold, gusty wind and the sign outside of the Mr. Big Motel that said "Vacancy". It all added up; all of the indicators are pointing toward an early start to winter and as if that wasn't enough to remind me, this morning there is an inch of new snow lying outside my office window.
Luckily, that means that just on the other side of this wall of wintery air, there's another hectic season of ice fishing ready to begin.
Since the existence of Mr. Big is questionable this year anyway, and since the weather forecast predicts below freezing daytime highs for the entire week, I think that it's time to signal the countdown.
So, since somebody has to make a prediction, I'll volunteer. Sound the trumpet fanfare Ta tat da da ... I think that there will be reports about anglers on the ice before Thanksgiving Day.
Yes, I KNOW, that's less than 3 weeks away and don't blink, those days are going to zip by in a hurry. Sharpen the auger, find your cleats and get your ice line spooled up. I think that we'll be hoofin it to the Walleye hole before you can say pass the Turkey!
Dale Schroeder wrote; "Jeff, just a quick note to say thanks for the tip on using ice fishing methods for late season crappie.
I know that our open water season is about over, but it made the late fall a lot of fun for me. Thanks again, Dale
A) Thank You Dale. I'm glad that those lures worked as well for you as the did for me this fall. With the ice season just around the corner, I'll be stocking up on Lindy's ice lures myself tomorrow.
... isn't all that hard to do. Especially when you're one of the hundreds of "Blow-Hard" politicians who's only notion of what happens in the real world is spoon fed straight into your brain from the lips of paid lobbyists like the ones who push ethanol as the solution to the world's climate issues.
I Know that ranting and raving won't do me any good, so I won't. But I am going to show you a few pictures; photos that show what's happening to wild bird habitat all over the Midwestern prairie. But first, let me make a simple point about how we view our natural resources.
People all over this country are motivated to do what best serves the economic needs of their families. Farmers, like all of us, make the best choices that they can and whether guys like me like it or not, they will do whatever best suits their own familie's economic needs.
Whenever you hear politicians or bloviating talking heads on TV talk about programs like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), you may hear them say something like; "We are paying farmers not to grow crops"; they make it sound like all those guys have to do is sit around and rake in the cash for doing nothing.
The only way for that to be true is if you follow the belief that there is only one way for a farmer to produce a valuable crop. I think that they are missing the point; I believe that there are other crops of value besides corn and grain. Do me a favor; think about it this way for a minute.
On the surface, programs like the CRP could seem like nothing more than a way to pay farmers for not growing crops. But if you recognize that there are other kinds of crops besides corn, hay and grains, then the statistics are free to tell a different story.
To me, Pheasants, Mallards, Geese, Deer and all manner of prairie birds are crops too. These crops produce tremendous economic benefits too and the tourism dollars that they generate touch the lives of people who live in small rural communities all over the Midwest.
I believe that we have vastly under-valued the economic benefit of the crops that we were paying farmers TO GROW instead of corn or grain. We were substituting what are mostly marginal acreages to grow habitat that provided life for Pheasants, Ducks, Deer and more. Productive or not, once these acres are converted back into crop land, the critters that once lived there are out in the cold; most of them simply cease to exist.
Don't take my word for it, check for yourself, make some phone calls and ask around. What did the gal who was forced to close the doors of her business, North Dakota's Lidgerwood Cafe think about Pheasants, Ducks and the folks who hunted for them? What about Mike Storbakken's gas station in the same town, did he believe that Pheasants were a crop worth growing? Don't you think that he would have loved keeping that station open so that more hunters could stop in and buy some crappy ethanol?
You can't blame farmers for trying to make as much money as their property will produce and I don't. But if you ask me, sportsmen and women like us are gonna have to get vocal about this.
The habitat is disappearing and it's going a lot faster than you think. Just last Wednesday, I walked into a small Cattail slough; the narrow strip of wetland was holding two Roosters at the time. My dogs did me a favor and flushed those birds; I got lucky and managed to bag them both. Two hours later, that very same narrow strip of Cattail wetlands was on fire. Now it’s gone and I'll never get a chance to hunt it again, not ever, it's gone.
CRP payments haven’t risen to compete with crop returns, and the program itself is being whittled away by Congress. Now that the shelter belt in the image above is gone, I imagine that Mr. Big will probably take up residence behind the grain elevator in town.
Once upon a time, the little cattail slough in the image to the right was one of our little "honey holes". There were always a few birds in there, but now the acre or two of wetland will produce a few gallons of Ethanol instead.
By 2013, the total amount of land enrolled in the (CRP) Conservation Reserve Program was at 27.1 million acres. That's down by 26 percent, or 9.7 million acres in the past five years, to a 25 year low. Learn More Read Article >> Is Anyone Paying Attention?
Arriving a week later than usual, we found out that the lion's share of local ducks had already split the scene. Without weather cold enough to freeze the smaller local lake lakes and no ice up north, the flight of "Northern Mallards" hadn't arrived in significant numbers either.
For us, that meant that our typical style of hunting, working the fields for Mallards was destined to be a tough row to hoe. By scouting, we found ducks and we developed a variety of game plans; but so did everyone else.
There were several groups of hunters all pursuing the same 3 or 4 flocks of ducks. So getting a spot to hunt became a game of musical chairs; a game that we had a knack for losing on this particular trip.
By Tuesday morning we had decided that chasing the ducks, getting beaten to fields, waiting for “no-shows” and burning gas was getting silly. We decided that for this week, our lot in life would be to roll the trip over and make it a Pheasant hunt instead.
That was a good idea because it helped us take better advantage of what we enjoyed most about the hunting trip to North Dakota this year; the beautiful weather.
Conditions were on the dry side, but not nearly like the drought during the 2011 season. This year the dry weather was an advantage because without being hampered by the usual sticky soil in the fields, we were able to burn the shoe leather necessary to help make contact with some Pheasants.
Like the ducks, Pheasant numbers were very low out there as well. But for the persistent, there are still some birds to be found.
My hunting partner Bill Powell is just like me, very persistent! Until someone tells us that it's time to quit, we keep working. Luckily we do because it usually pays off and this time it did, again.
In spite of being limited to hunting almost exclusively on public ground, we were able to locate some isolated pockets of good cover. That allowed us to keep covering fresh territory and drum up some action; eventually we were rewarded for our efforts.
For Sandy, my young Yellow Lab, there was no way that a week in the field could turn out any other way except good. Just being out in the field was like the highlight of her fall. Naturally, since this was our first really big trip together, I was hoping for a good showing.
Throughout the summer, she had shown lots of potential and plenty of natural instinct to hunt. But lacking the experience of hunting time in the field, there was no telling how well she would do. Luckily, she showed me that she has what it takes and every hunt was like watching a new dog at work. She was getting more experienced and smarter by the day.
For me, watching her hunting skills develop was the highlight of the week. For both of us, the reward for being persistent came on the final day of our trip. A series of good decisions led us into the right spots at the right time. We saw lots of birds, bagged our limits and went back to town feeling pretty darn good about the whole trip because of it.
I mentioned covering fresh territory though and this is one trick that is getting harder to perform every year. Pheasant habitat is being gobbled up as fast as the farmers can ask; "Got a match?" Tomorrow, after I do my homework, I'll talk a little bit about that.
But for today, I just want to remember the highlights of our trip, let the muscles recover and focus on the beautiful day that lies ahead.
From Choices Magazine, Conservation and the Agricultural Act of 2014. Bradley Lubben and James Pease wrote; "Conservation has been part of federal farm policy since the first farm bills of the 1930s. The early focus on soil conservation represented a public investment to address the widespread implications of soil erosion during the “Dust Bowl” era, the maintenance of soil productivity, and the rationalization of federal farm income supports.
Over time, conservation has grown in the farm bill to address multiple objectives and eco-system services and to respond to a wider array of stakeholders. In recent decades, conservation has become a large portfolio of programs and policies that preserve and protect natural resources.
The CRP was first authorized in the 1985 Farm Bill to set aside marginal, highly erodible cropland into a reserve for ..." Read Article >> Conservation and the Agricultural Act of 2014 .
From Big Picture Agriculture - Is Anyone Paying Attention? We’ve Lost 9.7 Million Acres of CRP Land in Five Years. "The amount of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), at 27.1 million acres, is down by 26 percent, or 9.7 million acres in the past five years, to a 25 year low. During this same time period, corn acreage has increased by 13 million acres.
Farmers are once again planting crops on marginal lands “fencerow to fencerow” to cash in on today’s high commodity prices. CRP payments haven’t risen to compete with crop returns, and the program itself is being whittled away by Congress.
The Conservation Reserve Program exists to provide land owners with ... Read article >> Is Anyone Paying Attention? We’ve Lost 9.7 Million Acres of CRP Land
There have been a lot of calls and emails lately from readers asking for one sort of advice or another. I’m doing my best to keep up and at the same time, prioritize the list so that I get to the really pressing issues first.
Since the “busy season” is in full swing, my office time is really limited. So if you’ve dropped me a line and haven’t received a reply, I apologize, I will get the stack cleared up eventually, so please bear with me.
I’m usually checking messages during the wee hours of early morning, so my schedule tends to favor emails rather than phone calls. Also, I do offer The Early Bird Insider’s News List, an “opt-in” email list that I routinely use for announcing last minute openings, special announcement and fishing events. List membership is free and it only takes a few seconds to register. I can’t sign you up; you need to do this yourself by clicking the link to the news list.
One final thought, every fishing question that I’ve received for the past week has been about lakes and situations that I have already written about. The fishing archives are jam packed with information about the specific lakes and situations that you’ve been asking about. So if you want a jump start on your next fishing trip, go to Fishing Report Archives, select the month that you plan to fish and peruse the past reports. I promise that you will find the information you’re looking for, plus a lot more. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL