You won’t have to search very hard to find photos and stories about folks who have already been out fishing on the fresh ice. I really want to say something about ice fishing too, but I don’t want my words to just blend into the clamor. And I especially don’t want to lead you into a dangerous situation after getting you all hyped up about ice fishing.
If you really want to get out on thin ice this weekend, you can find a place to do it. But for me, there’s still too much going on in the woods and fields that I will regret missing if I don’t do it now. Opportunities for Pheasants, Grouse, Deer and some great photography are all still going on in the woods.
OH and then there’s the special mission that I’m on right now, the one that I have to keep quiet for a few more days. I can’t just wrap this project up and head out onto the ice; I’d never forgive myself if I did that!
The St. Paul Ice Show provides a nice natural break from one season to another for me. So after Thanksgiving and after the ice show, we plan to hit the ice hard and cover a lot of ground. Until then, I’ll keep you posted about what I do know about ice conditions and I’ll share reports from friends who do decide to get into ice fishing mode earlier than me.
The ice that’s formed on most of the smaller, shallow water lakes in north central Minnesota is pretty solid stuff. Thickness ranging from 4 to 6 inches is not uncommon and a diligent search could easily lead you ice in the 7 to 8 inch range by the weekend.
Larger lakes have skimmed over, but on many, the ice has been broken up by strong winds. Unless you know about a spot in a protected area that lies within walking distance of shore, I would rule out large lakes for now, there are just too many variables to predict a safe range of travel.
Further south, the ice is thinner, but even in Minnesota’s southernmost region; there are still lakes with fishable ice. I’ve seen numerous photos from and about folks who have already fished on lakes in the metro area. Lake Washington, one of the larger lakes in the Mankato area was already frozen on Tuesday, by this morning there’s likely 3 to 5 inches of ice covering the 800 acre lake.
Looking at the forecast, I can’t see any reason to discourage you from planning an ice fishing trip this weekend. Even though daytime temperatures will reach the mid-30’s, overnight lows in the single digits will keep making ice.
The only thing I wouldn’t do is to try and make too big of a trip out of it. Stay close to home and pick on lakes that have fishable structure within walking distance.
The only thing I would advise is that you do your own research; I would NOT TRUST ANYBODY. Not me, not the folks on faceblock, not even the guy who’s sitting on the ice already; check the conditions yourself as you travel.
Like I said, I’ll wait until after the ice show before I get serious about ice fishing. But I’ve resigned myself to the notion that I’ll be seeing and hearing reports about folks getting a head start, that’s okay, have a great time and feel free to keep us in the loop.
I need all of the readers I can get though, so just do me a favor and travel light. Please carry safety gear like a spud, ice picks and cleats and if you haven’t considered it already, think about picking up a float suit, they really do work.
"On the main basin... For those fishing the lake, fishing has been good. Most bays and harbors locked up with ice this past week, which has put a halt to the open water fishing. At last report, there are good numbers of walleyes and saugers staged in traditional early ice locations across Pine Island and the entire south shore. With fish location, numbers and fall success, LOW is primed for good early ice fishing.
On the Rainy River... The Rainy River is still loaded with walleyes. Some anglers made it out this week but single digits locked up any water not moving and it is pretty much done. Anglers that got out had big numbers of walleyes to reward them, similar to previous week.
Up at the NW Angle... Ice is formed in back bays, harbors, on the angle inlet, from Young's Bay to Flag Island and across most of Flag Island flats. Larger stretches of water or current areas still open. Ice fishing will be here soon, but not yet. Stay on staked resort ice trails when ice fishing begins. Safety first." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
"With single digit temperatures overnight, the water is cooling down. It is still a bit early but gets us excited to see some skim ice in the docks and bays. If you look closely at the picture there is a boat it that mist fishing on the river.
We are continuing with the projects and getting things ready to go for the winter season. We are expecting some big news at the end of next week, stay tuned for details!
We have had a couple cancellations; your dates may now be available for this winter. We are booking for winter, give us a call to lock in your dates!" 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge
Walleyes aren’t just going to swim up and stop under you’re your ice shelter though. No matter where you’re set up for the ambush, you need a lure that gets their attention, convinces them to stop and then triggers them to strike.
The new Lindy Glow Spoon does all that, it combines sound, color and light in a way that no other ice fishing lure has ever done before.
Let Fish ED host Jon Thelen show you how the Glow Spoon works and why it’s going to help you put more walleyes on the ice this winter. View Video and Learn More >> Catch More Walleyes Using Lindy Glow Spoon
"Commercial grade electric ice augers like the StrikeMaster 40V have taken the ice fishing world by storm.
Rugged build quality, reliability and long lasting battery life good for more holes than you can drill in a day deliver ice anglers exceptional value without any downside.
Wired2Fish's Ryan DeChaine walks us through two popular electric auger configurations and when to use each. He starts by providing an overview of a full-sized electric auger equipped with an 8'' drill. This is the go-to setup when targeting bigger fish like walleye and pike.
A smaller and more compact cordless hammer drill paired with a 5-6'' drill is often favored when chasing panfish; this setup is extremely lightweight and fast." View Video to Learn More >> Why Electric Ice Augers are the Best Buy
There are no shortage of fishing videos, fishing articles and fishing news. Folks around the Midwest have plenty of chances to “get information”, but it’s a one way street, you have to glean whatever you can from the material whenever you see it.
Opportunities to exchange information don’t come along as often, but they do come along. The St. Paul Ice Show definitely provides one of the best opportunities for anglers to learn anything they could ever want to know about ice fishing.
Remember the time you were watching that ice fishing video and you saw something intriguing? Maybe it was the certain twitch of the rod tip, or the particular way a lure was presented, just for a moment, you wished that you could ask one quick question.
Well there’s a darn good chance that whoever produced that ice fishing video, article or commentary will be at this show. This is your chance to ask that question, along with a lot more. You’ll be on a two way street where information is exchanged, not just presented. I’ve been at a lot of “sport shows” and I can tell you that this one is high on my list of favorites. The people who work this show know what they're talking about and they're more than happy to share the info with you.
I might add that I’ll be working the show myself, so you can drill me with all the questions you want! These shows are a lot more fun when we have new and exciting information to share and this year we definitely do have new and exciting information for you. That’s why I hope you’ll mark your calendar and make some time to pay us a visit.
St. Paul Ice Show, Friday November 30, thru Sunday December 2, 2018. ST. PAUL RIVERCENTRE, 175 Kellogg Boulevard West, St. Paul, MN 55102 Click Here To Learn More >> St. Paul Ice Fishing Show
On Saturday, we found some of the smaller lakes in the Grand Rapids area frozen over already. This image of Hale Lake was taken at about 4:00 PM on November 10th and except for some wet spots on top of the ice, it was frozen from shore to shore. With a maximum depth of over 50 feet, I wouldn’t have expected the ice to cover the whole lake yet, but it did.
Not far down the road, we found ice covering about 60% of Splithand Lake, but there was still a large section of open water over the lake’s mid-section. With a maximum depth of less than 30 feet, I would have expected the entire lake to be ice covered, but it wasn’t.
My takeaway from these sightings was that it’s cold enough for most of the small to medium size lakes to freeze up right now. The ones which are protected from wind are simply a couple of days ahead of the ones being subjected to steady breezes.
I saw an image from one of the rental operators on Upper Red Lake yesterday. In it, there was lots of ice cover and no visible open water in sight, at least not from his vantage point. I’m sure that there’s still open water in the center of the giant lake. But once the clamor to be first on that big lake begins, it’s hard to hold back.
It’s understandable that folks anxious to get out there, I am too. But I hope everyone will remember the tragic start of the 2017/18 ice season on Upper Red. You may recall that we had a similar early blast of super-cold air during the 2017 deer season too. But shortly after that, there was a warm front that blew in and stalled out the ice making process on a lot of lakes.
There were lots of doubts about where we could go and where we couldn’t. Anglers travelled over a variety of risky areas and some of them, including friends of my family lost their lives because of it.
I can’t say that drowning is the best way to celebrate being in the first wave of anglers to venture across risky stretches of ice. It might be okay to give the lakes a few extra days this year, the fish won’t go anywhere and holding off for those extra hours could save a few lives.
Chris Andresen shared a photo of his lake in southern Minnesota yesterday too. Ice forming around the shoreline is forcing him to get his dock out of the water today and I’m guessing the ice will span his lake within a few days too.
From what we know now, it would appear that “good ice” could occur a little earlier this season than it did last year. Cold temperatures are forecast to persist over the next week. The pitfall would be another significant period of warming over the next couple of weeks. Let’s hope that the ice forms a solid base early and that there’s enough to withstand warmer temperatures and/or windy conditions.
Our winter temperature and precipitation forecast, according to the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), is expected to follow a typical El Niño pattern.
“Wetter than normal conditions across the southern United States, with above normal temperatures across the Central and Western Great Lakes extending through the Northern Plains to the Pacific Northwest.
Drier than normal precipitation is shifted a bit further north from the …” Read >> Winter 2018-2019 Outlook for the Northland
No matter how fast or slow the ice forms, our 2018/19 ice fishing season is upon us. I’ve got the snowmobile at the shop for its annual checkup, the portable ice fishing shelters are all cleaned up and the ice rods are ready for action.
With less than two weeks so of relaxation left, I better hurry up and relax; I’ll be doing my best! - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
Every year there’s a clamor to discover which ice fishing lures promise to be both “new and great!”
But with all of the great gear and fishing lures out there, how can anybody do it? It seems like everything’s been done, it’s all been invented and re-invented; until now.
The Lindy Glow Spoon is both “New” and “Great” and this lure is going to knock the ball out of the park during the 2018/2019 ice fishing season.
Let Jon Thelen walk you through the features and benefits of the lure that’s setting the ice fishing world on fire.
View Video >> "Introducing Something New and Great" Lindy Glow Spoon
Don’t reach for your ice cleats just yet, but it wouldn’t hurt to get them ready; you’ll probably need them fairly soon.
It was calm yesterday and the air temperature never warmed above 20 degrees. I expected to see ice on some tiny ponds yesterday and I did. I wasn’t expecting to see very much ice on any of the larger lakes and I didn’t. But … some of the mid-size lakes had ice around their shorelines, more than I anticipated.
The ideal freezing conditions won’t last; in fact blustery winds predicted for today will prevent most lakes from glazing over. Still, I don’t expect that we’ll make it to Thanksgiving without hearing about folks walking out on fishable ice in the Itasca Region.
An interesting read for anyone who wants to know the scientific ifs ands & buts about freeze up is the Ashton Ice Growth Prediction Method. Essentially, it will tell you that once the lakes freeze over, the first 5 to 8 inches of ice form really fast. In many instances, once a lake freezes over, it can become fishable in less than a week.
The forecast for north central Minnesota doesn't show a single reading above freezing for the next week. For us, a slow and steady freeze up would be a blessing and a welcome departure from the wild freeze up we experienced last year. I'll be keeping an eye on conditions and keep you in the loop, so stay tuned. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Lew's announced several new rods for 2019, and the first one I got my hands on was the new Lew's Custom Speed Stick Super Grip Rod.
It's unique selling point is a custom flat sided grip that keeps the rod inline on the back cast to prevent rod roll and black twist. This is said to produce a more fluent, longer cast and better overall handling while fighting fish. These are my experiences with this new bass fishing rod for 2019 from Lew's.
Not only did Lew's launch a new line built around new Winn Grips, but they also borrowed some engineering from the golfing world to ..." Learn More>> Lew's Custom Plus Speed Stick Super Grip Rod Review
Those words turned out to be a fair assessment of what we found during our trip to North Dakota last week. Although there were a lot of farmers harvesting Soy Beans, Corn, for the most part was still standing.
Pheasants could be heard chattering from the innermost reaches of those huge corn fields. That made access a problem for us because hunters are not allowed to work in un-harvested crop fields. So most of the time all we could do was listening to the roosters cackling at us from a distance.
Ducks were largely off limits for us too, mostly because we ..." Read Article >> Hunting The Hunt-Able November 7, 2018
"On the main basin... For those fishing the lake, fishing has been good. Mixed schools of fish from 10-25' along south shore. Activity around both Lighthouse and Morris Point Gaps and along Pine Island. Most anchored up and jigging with frozen shiners with good success. Gold, pink and chartreuse working well.
On the Rainy River... The Rainy River is loaded with walleyes. Anglers having success in key spots up and down river. Jig and minnow (shiners, rainbows) continue to be go to method. Gold, glow, pink and chartreuse for jigs.
Anchoring up most effective. Jig over side or flip out and work to boat in low current. In main channel, good amount of current, 1 ounce jigs may be ticket. On edge of current and eddy areas, 3/8 ounce. Strong reports in 8-15'. Many trophy walleyes being caught along with eaters. When you find them, anglers reporting big numbers of walleyes. Move around until you find fish.
Up at the NW Angle... Fall fishing continues to be excellent. Walleyes are in early ice up areas. Limits of walleyes being caught in 12 - 25'. Jigging still producing best. Muskie trollers catching big fish." – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH
At first glance, it appeared that completing my weekend work assignment wouldn’t be that hard. How could it be, we’d be hunting at a management area where hunters can legally fill up to 3 tags, surely we’d at least see a few.
Access isn’t a problem either; there are public hunting areas practically everywhere one looks. There are state management areas, federal ones and even county ones. There would be plenty of room for everybody, apparently.
The plan was set, my son-in-law Austin would take me to a little spot where he’d rattled in a couple of bucks on Thursday evening. We’d sit together and he’d try to rattle ‘em back up again on Saturday morning and we’d be back at home base in time for breakfast.
We arrived at the spot in plenty of time to secure a position. There were other hunters in the area, quite a few of them in fact. But nobody had thought about that one little area, surely this was a sign that we’d be in like Flynn!
The horizon was slow to brighten, but eventually it did and I said; “I can’t believe that we haven’t heard a shot yet. There’s almost always somebody who fires one off at the crack of legal shooting, sometimes even before that.” Austin agreed; it was sort of odd that we never heard an early first light volley, but we didn’t.
Austin spotted a deer moving down the hill on the other side of the creek, but that one went out of sight before coming into range. So we waited, but after about 15 more minutes, the element of doubt started entering my mind. We still hadn’t heard hardly any shooting and the woods were quiet, there wasn’t even a squirrel rustling the leaves. It reminded me of the opening scene on lot deer openers, we know there out there, but they’re not moving.
Long story short, not moving was the buzz word of the weekend in the areas we hunted. Deer sightings were few and far between. The ones we did see came into the open at last light and were out of range.
Most of the deer that did move during daylight were moved by groups of hunters who pushed through thickets and sloughs. I’d never been exposed to a lot of “drives” for deer, but it was definitely interesting to watch. There were people from all walks of life walking across though fields. I saw moms, dads, grandparents and kids; there was a lot of family tradition.
Unfortunately there were some real cowboys out there too and that was a little scary; that’s a story for another time though.
I wouldn’t say that the deer hunting season is over for me, but it’s definitely not gonna nip and tuck from here on out. There are only few weeks left before the St. Paul Ice Show and the schedule in between is loaded with both honey dos and making preparations for the ice fishing season.
Yes, I KNOW I can’t believe it either, but it’s already here, our first ice fishing trip is only 28 days from now and the weather forecast shows no reason that the trip won’t take place as scheduled. - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL
"Lakeville artist Stephen Hamrick won the Minnesota Walleye Stamp contest. Judges selected his painting from among 11 entries for the annual contest that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sponsors.
The 2019 walleye stamp will feature Hamrick’s painting of a walleye swimming at night under a full moon near an angler’s leech-baited hook and slip bobber. Hamrick has won a DNR stamp contest 11 times; he also has won the waterfowl, pheasant, wild turkey, trout and salmon, and walleye stamp contests.
The voluntary walleye stamp validation costs $5 but the DNR does not require anglers to buy it to fish for or keep walleye. For an extra 75 cents, the DNR will mail the pictorial stamp to purchasers. The DNR also sells a pictorial collectable stamp without the validation for $5.75, and sells walleye stamps year-round. Customers can purchase walleye stamps at any time, even if they already have a fishing license.
Judges also selected Stuart Nelson of Cloquet and Josh Evan of Mapleton as finalists in the Oct. 25 contest at DNR headquarters in St. Paul. The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work.
The DNR uses revenue from stamp sales to purchase walleye for stocking in Minnesota’s lakes. All license vendors still have the 2018 walleye stamp available for purchase. The DNR website at mndnr.gov/stamps has more information about stamps."
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