Minnesota Fishing Reports Archive for Early Winter 2005

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Northern Minnesota Fishing Reports Archive Section. October thru December 2005.


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.

 

Ice Report 12/27/05 All Roads Lead to the fishing Hole!

Well, here we are. Christmas is past and most of us are finished with the shopping, traveling and holiday eating for another season. Time now to get back in focus and see what the lakes in Northern Minnesota have to offer.

Ice conditions are stable and snow conditions are improving big time. Weve had about a week of temperatures hovering just above freezing and this was enough to melt some snow and pack the rest of it. Snow cover on the lakes is now generally six inches or less. Travel by ATV is excellent and so is the walking. Most of our Grand Rapids area lakes have enough ice now for some vehicle traffic except for the deepest lakes that froze later then the rest. Even though there are ice houses showing up on these deeper lakes (like Deer, Pokegama and Trout), it would be unwise to assume that vehicle traffic is okay. For the majority of the shallower lakes, you will already find at least some vehicle traffic out there. Most of these lakes have ice cover of 12 inches or more now and weve seen trucks driving on quite a few.

One additional word of caution; Narrows and other current areas have open spots and should be avoided no matter how you're traveling.

Crappie fishing seems to be about the best game in town for most folks with Walleye anglers reporting moderate success in the late afternoon and early evening. On Christmas Day we walked one area lake searching for a report on spearing Pike. We were unable to find anyone with a fish. The slow Pike movement could have something to do with the gray skies weve had for the past week or so. In my opinion, it helps to have some sunlight to improve movement of fish during the day. Even the Walleye and panfish that bite toward evening move more intensely at the end of a sunny day.

This picture sums it up. There's enough snow for snowmobiles, but not too much for ATVs and pickup trucks. Travel conditions are about as good as they get right now.

Trying to get an encouraging report posted has been difficult because of low angler turnout so far. Now that anglers are finding that they can drive on a lot of area lakes, Im expecting the traffic to pick up this week. Well be on the lake today and with a little luck, well have some encouraging news on Wednesday.

www.jeffsundin.com    jsundin@paulbunyan.net   Copyright Jeff Sundin 2005

Ice Report 12-08-05 Cold Weather Improves Ice Conditions Jeff Sundin

After a week of below normal temperatures and cold Grey days, the ice has really started getting good. Some folks in the area are reporting early Ice conditions that are better than they have seen in recent years. Area lakes range in ice thickness of anywhere between 4 and 12 inches, so youll still have to do some research. But, this coming weekend should be the unofficial opening day for anglers in the area.

Some dark house anglers have found there way out on to Bowen's Flat on Big Winnie

There are a handful of Dark Houses located on Bowen's Flat on Big Winnie. Look for traffic to pick up this weekend as spear fisherman hear about the improving ice conditions.

Red Lake anglers are getting out a couple of miles from shore and reporting good action. Everyone (that I know of) is using ATVs and Snowmobiles, but theres talk that there will be light vehicle traffic on the lake this weekend. Winnibigosh has a small number of houses on the main lake, with some folks reporting up to 12 inches of ice out there too.

There are several anglers using the shallow shoreline ice to park vehicles and leaving from there with ATVs to their fishing spots. Folks fishing on Winnie (mainly dark house anglers so far) are not reporting hot action. The dark skies weve had this week are not encouraging for spearing. The first sunny day we get will like trigger a spurt of action.

Anglers in the Deer River area are parking vehicles on ice in the shallows of Winnibigoshinsh

Crappie and Bluegill anglers are showing up in light numbers so far, Crappie action is spotty with some anglers reporting "decent fishing" others report a slow start. If past history holds true, the next two weeks will be the best Panfishing of the season.

www.jeffsundin.com    jsundin@paulbunyan.net   Copyright Jeff Sundin 2005

Ice Report 11-28-05 Grand Rapids Area Freeze Up, Slow but Sure! - Jeff Sundin

Well folks, here we are. After a nice break from the action to do some hunting, Im back in the office as we stare down the throat of another Northern Minnesota Winter. Even though theres not a lot to report on just yet, were only a week away from the beginning of another ice fishing season and Im sure there will be lots of folks looking for the ice conditions up here this week. So well call this the "kick off" for this winter fishing season.

Bowstring Lake South landing on 11-28-05. Frozen as far as the eye can see.

Above: The South landing at Bowstring Lake. There is ice as far out as the eye can see and I walked on firm ice in the shallows out about 100 feet. This is one of the better situations I found in the area.

Below: White Oak Lake. Another lake with ice cover as far as I can see. Jagged ice formed during high winds about a week ago. It's not pretty, but it was walk able for me yesterday.

In spite of natures best effort to get us into the deep freeze, we continue to receive these warm reprieves that set us back to late fall over and over again. The photos you see here were taken yesterday, 11-27-05 and as you can see the ice is forming, but except for the shallowest lakes in the Deer River Region, there are none that have full ice coverage. Another set back may be in store for us as we had light but steady rain all night long last night (11-28-05) and the current temperatures are above freezing.

Above: Moose Lake North of Deer River, Heavy, jagged ice around edges with thin ice covering most of the rest of the lake. There were several visible open spots toward the center of the lake.

Below: Deer Lake, North West of Grand Rapids is completely open at this time. If you want to fish here, bring your boat!

With the changing weather, it's hard to predict whether we'll have some additional freezing tonight or not. The official DNR advisory is that no ice in the State is currently safe for fishing. It's absolutely necessary to call before you travel up for the spearing opener this weekend.

I will be posting additional photos as the travel conditions improve. Look for an update on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

www.jeffsundin.com    jsundin@paulbunyan.net   Copyright Jeff Sundin 2005

October 2005


Fishing Report 10/17/05 - Late Season Fishing Strategies For the Grand Rapids Region

     As always, the time has passed quickly this season and while Im ready for a break in the action, Im sad that we are reaching the end of the 2005 open water season. At this point (in the season) Im confident that if youre reading the fishing report, youre either one of my fishing pals keeping tabs on how were doing or youre a die hard whos looking for one more good trip before you pack it in for the season. Either way, I really appreciate the visitors to the site and I hope that I can add some information that will make it an even better resource in the coming year. Ill be posting another brief report toward the end of this week and then Im going to focus on the family, dogs and hunting for a while. Well pick up the pace again in a few weeks as the ice fishing season draws nearer.    

     Weve had a week of fairly stable weather now and the surface water temperatures are hovering at 53 to 56 degrees depending on which lake you happen to be fishing. Even though the majority of the area lakes have undergone the fall turnover, these are fairly warm surface temps for this time of year and barring any major cold front, there should be adequate time for a recovery period and another stretch of fairly good fall fishing. Its important to remember that turn over doesnt end fishing for the season, it just changes how we need to approach it. Where, when and how you decide to fish will make a lot of difference right now, so dont get discouraged if your "old reliable" spot isnt producing. You might need to make some adjustments or try some new locations.

     Walleyes have become more elusive than they were a couple of weeks ago, but are still fairly active. In fact they are actually biting fairly aggressively when you first find them. The real key is that theyre scattered and can be found in a greater number of locations, but generally in smaller numbers. I think a lot of this has to do with the abundance of bait fish this year. Its been common to see a school of fish on the electronics, catch several of them on the first pass and then see a "breaking up" of the school that results in a shut down in the action. My best approach has been to keep wandering the drop off, even going in to what looks like marginal territory just to keep us in "new water". As we encounter new schools or small groups of fish, we catch what we can and then move on. Avoiding high traffic areas will definitely help!

 

Here's a perfect example of the payoff that comes when we hold out for that last hour of daylight. The post-turnover period that we're experiencing right now seems to be the trigger that starts Walleyes into their "winter" feeding habits. We'll catch some fish during the day, but prime time, low light periods pay big dividends from here on out.

    

     Walleyes currently inhabit the steeper sloped drop off areas that have easy access to deeper water. Depending on the type of lake, key water depths for me have been from 20 to 35 feet on the deeper lakes. On shallower lakes, key depths have been from 10 to 15 feet. The exception has been rock reefs, bars or points during windy conditions. The walleye have tended to move shallower to feed on the rocks whenever theres been a decent wind to get them stirred up. Water depths of 5 to 8 feet are good under these winder conditions.

 

Fishing for lunkers can get to be an addiction. If you're one who's got the temperament to work at it and you don't mind releasing the majority of your fish, this could be for you! Large, lively minnows really help.

     Bait choices are still wide open for Walleye. This week weve caught more than half of our fish on live bait rigs with night crawlers and we were still catching fish on Leeches until I ran out of them on about the 12th of October. Jig and minnow accounts for most of the rest of our Walleye catch except for the larger fish that youve seen pictured during the past couple of weeks. A lot of those fish are being caught with larger minnows fished on live bait rigs. Weve had trouble finding Redtails, so weve been using large Creek Chubb Minnows instead and theyve been working. I think the Redtails would be better, so if you can find them and youre up for the big fish hunt, these would be great to have.

     Finally, post turnover fishing is a lot like ice fishing and there is usually an hour at the end of the day when these fish get more active. Plan your trip to include the evening bite and you will probably catch at least half of the Walleyes in that last hour before sundown.

     Crappies have moved noticeably deeper during the past week. Fishing the drop off edges like we had done for most of the fall has become less productive and its been better to start looking in more open water. These schools of fish are still near the drop off areas, but not necessarily on the edges any more. Try to cover as much water in 25 to 35 feet as possible and watch for evidence of schools of Crappie in the open water. Once located, its a matter of keeping the boat stationary above the school and fishing vertically with a jig and minnow. I have been forced to go with heavier jigs at times to accommodate the deeper water and this is okay if you remember to keep the jigging to a minimum. Control the drop rate by lowering the jig slowly on a tight line and youll catch more Crappies. They have been avoiding baits that are fished too aggressively and favor a slow drop combined with periods of near motionless fishing. Its critical to hold the boat still with your electric trolling motor.

We've had to work hard to stay on top of roaming schools of open water Crappie, but it's still working. Water depths of 25 to 35 feet are typical and hovering with an electric trolling motor is a must.

     Northern Pike are located wherever the best source of food can be found. Weve noticed a lot of Tulibee action on the surface over deep, open water and when I move slowly through these areas, I can mark large fish in the 20 to 30 foot range which I presume are Northern Pike. On the lakes where weve seen these suspended fish, shoreline fishing has been poor for Pike so I believe wed have to get out there with some deep diving crankbaits and lead core line to work these deep fish. We havent had occasion to try it because our focus on Walleye right now, but its worth mentioning for folks who might be interested.

     On some of the other lakes in the area, weve found large numbers of Pike located on steep drop off areas where bait like Shiners and Tulibees have gathered. On these lakes, fishing the shoreline with live bait rigs and large minnows or jig and minnow combinations are producing really well. Most fish are in the small to medium range with an occasional large fish sneaking in to the picture. Its not uncommon to get a 10 pounder mixed in with a bunch of 2 and 3 pound fish.

     Jumbo Perch are targeting schools of baitfish like young of the year Perch, Shiners and other minnows. Best areas to look for the Perch are weeds or weed and rocks mixed on shallow flats. Weve spotted schools of Perch in water as shallow as two feet where theyre roaming the sandy areas in search of minnows that come in on warm, sunny afternoons. On cloudy or windy days these minnows hold in the deeper weeds just outside of these shallow flats and its an outstanding place to look for the perch. Jig and minnow combos are all youll need to catch them.

    

     Good luck with your fishing, Check back for a final update later this week.

www.jeffsundin.com    jsundin@paulbunyan.net   Copyright Jeff Sundin 2005

Fishing Report 10/10/05 The Big Chill Arrives!

Well, thanks to the massive cold front, rain and winter-like weather we enjoyed last week, the 2005 open water fishing season has entered its final phase. Water temperatures have fallen into the middle to lower 50 degree range and what Id call the "peak" pre-turnover fishing action has given way to a slower, but equally interesting cold water period. Its hard to put your finger on the exact moment that the turnover occurs or the precise effect that the turnover has on fish. But each year as the water temps fall below 55 degrees, I notice a definite change in the action and we are forced to make some dramatic changes in our fishing approach if we want to stay in the action. Its important to remember that not all lakes thermocline in the summer and so for several lakes in our area, this cold blast will actually improve the fishing. On many of the other lakes, there is a slow down in the action for a few days. After that, the fish re-group and the action begins to pick up again. For lots of folks the action has slowed down enough to cause them to lose interest. But for the hardcore or die-hard anglers willing to put up with the colder temperatures, there are still some great days ahead!

Walleyes are now a little sluggish during the daylight hours and were doing well to catch a couple of fish each time we locate a new school. After a pass or two, the fish get "spooky" and we have to move on to another new location. The good news is that when you locate a new group, their initial reaction is to bite fairly well, so if you take the "keep on truckin approach", youll still be able to put together a reasonable mess of fish for your evening meal. For us, the action has been decidedly better during the final couple hours of daylight each day. In fact, most of the best action weve had during the past five days or so has been during those last couple hours of daylight. I presume that there would also be some action during the dark of night, but we have been leaving at around 7:30 PM and havent really tried the night bite.

The walleye we are finding have been located on the steeper portions of shoreline structures like points and inside corners. Rocks have been holding some fish too, especially on the windier days. Jig and minnow is our best producer, but were still getting some fish on Night Crawlers. The Night Crawlers have been a great back up plan for working the steeper weed edges when the water is calm. Creeping along slowly by back trolling with an electric trolling motor has been the ticket. Moving too fast seems to be taboo right now, so if youre marking fish that wont bite, slow down and try again.

Jumbo Perch are still hitting fairly aggressively if you can locate a good school. They have gathered on smaller spots though and like the walleye, have responded better to a slower fishing style. They can still be located in and around weed beds where plenty of baitfish are present. Jig and minnow is our best bait and weve experienced better results by using larger than normal size minnows. A fathead, Rainbow or Shiner in the 4-inch range keeps some of the smaller fish from attacking and the better fish have had no problem gobbling up these larger minnows.

The balance of this report is a re-print of the report from 10-5-05 and the information is still valid for the moment. Ill post an additional update mid-week.

Crappies continue to be found out in some of the more open terrain and can be found in small packs. Its been a little unpredictable and sometimes the bite has been sluggish requiring lots of attention to trigger a bite from the fish. More and more now Ive been waiting for the last couple of hours of daylight before going after them and it seems to help. The method for catching them is largely the same as its been during past reports except that we are now searching a little further out from the breaklines and open water, soft bottom areas are becoming more important to us. Look for any sign of a roaming pack of fish, hover over the school and fish vertically with a jig & minnow. These fish have been particularly interested in a slow presentation and at times weve had to stop moving the bait completely before they would bite.

It has become a lot more common to locate Bluegills mixed in the same areas with the Crappies, so now days I have someone fishing with a jig and small piece of cut worm at all times. Its amazing how often the Crappies bite these worms and although the worm wouldnt be my first choice for Crappie, using them wont take you completely out of the action while you search for Bluegills.

Northern Pike are getting pretty cooperative, but not on the larger casting baits or trolling lures. Weve found that the average size of pike were catching by jig & minnow fish is at least equal to the quality were getting on larger baits. They do seem to want meat right now though and Id recommend using either the jig & minnow approach or use a live bait rig with a lively minnow like a Redtail, Creek Chubb or Sucker. Ive had great luck with using a heavy 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader to protect from the bite off problems associated with using live bait for Pike. The patterns for the pike are varied, but anywhere that you find an abundance of food (for them), you will have some action. On a few of the area lakes with good Tulibee populations, were seeing the Pike gather along the steep drop off areas where these fall spawning bait fish are already staging. On the shallower lakes, were finding the Pike in areas where other forage including Walleyes or Perch is abundant.

As the fishing season winds down for many, well still being going strong for another couple of weeks and Ill try to keep you posted on the changing conditions. After that, Im hoping to take a little break and do some hunting.

www.jeffsundin.com    jsundin@paulbunyan.net   Copyright Jeff Sundin 2005

Fishing Report 10/5/05 Big Fish Reward Weather Challenged Anglers - Jeff Sundin

     Colder weather, rain and brisk winds have dished out a challenging scenario for anglers in the Grand Rapids, Deer River area this week. In typical fall fashion, most folks who keep their minds focused on the job are being rewarded with some good numbers and really nice size fish. Water temperatures are holding at just around 60 degrees right now and this is what Id call the peak of the pre-turnover period. On most lakes that have a thermocline, the turnover occurs when the surface temperature dips to 55 or so. Just before the turnover is prime time for anglers who want to catch the fish during their heavy feeding period.

Big Minnesota Walleye Double for Eldon Skoglund and Bud Freeman

A dream Double! Two big fish at once sure beats getting snagged on the rocks.

     Walleyes are still scattered, but active. So anyone who wants to do really well should be prepared to cover lots of water to be sure that youre always near some fresh fish. I said cover water, not run around! There are lots of folks running from spot to spot trying to find the largest possible school of fish. This approach has been falling short for many of the gun and run fishermen. A much better approach right now is to make short moves between spots and cover the water on a given shoreline really thoroughly. For the past several days weve noticed that a small school of fish will bite well as soon as we start fishing in new territory, but after the first pass (or maybe two at most) the school breaks up and our action drops way off. By making short moves up the same shoreline (sometimes just by drifting or trolling), weve been able to locate another small group of fish and so on.

     Jig and minnow fishing which is typically my favorite for fall Walleye fishing, has taken a back seat to night crawlers fished on a live bait rig or small jig head. Dont get me wrong, we can and are catching fish on the jig & minnow. But, when I get in trouble, I break out the crawlers and they are consistently putting fish in the boat under tough conditions. Depending on the type of lake youre fishing, there are a couple of patterns going on right now. On the shallower wind swept lakes (like Winnie), fishing the weedline and shallow rocks are producing fish. The deeper lakes (like Pokegama) have a better action bite going in the deeper water. Points and shoreline breaks in water depths of 20 to 40 feet are typical and in some cases these fish could be as deep as 60 feet or even more. Watching the graph like a hawk will help you locate these deep fish, we use exactly the same baits as we do in the shallower water, except we adjust the weight of our sinkers or jigs to make it easier to keep in contact with the bottom.

 

Sunset at Williams Narrows on Cutfoot Sioux offers a chance at evening run Walleye

 

If the going gets tough during the day, try the evening bite. These folks are cashing in on that last light flurry of activity that can easily add another half dozen Walleyes to your daily bag.

     Jumbo Perch are making a splash right now too. Weve found good schools of nice size fish on the weedlines mixed with Walleyes or nearby areas where the Walleye are feeding. The Perch are feeding on huge schools of young of the year Perch that are gathered on the weedlines. Simple but effective as always, the jig & minnow has been the clear ticket.

     Crappies continue to be found out in some of the more open terrain and can be found in small packs. Its been a little unpredictable and sometimes the bite has been sluggish requiring lots of attention to trigger a bite from the fish. More and more now Ive been waiting for the last couple of hours of daylight before going after them and it seems to help. The method for catching them is largely the same as its been during past reports except that we are now searching a little further out from the breaklines and open water, soft bottom areas are becoming more important to us.

     Look for any sign of a roaming pack of fish, hover over the school and fish vertically with a jig & minnow. These fish have been particularly interested in a slow presentation and at times weve had to stop moving the bait completely before they would bite.

     It has become a lot more common to locate Bluegills mixed in the same areas with the Crappies, so now days I have someone fishing with a jig and small piece of cut worm at all times. Its amazing how often the Crappies bite these worms and although the worm wouldnt be my first choice for Crappie, using them wont take you completely out of the action while you search for Bluegills.

Smallmouth Bonus pays off for Bud Freeman who caught his first ever while Walleye Fishing

A little bonus for fishing the deep breaklines with live bait rigs. The Smallmouth season is closed, so release 'em carefully.

     Northern Pike are getting pretty cooperative, but not on the larger casting baits or trolling lures. Weve found that the average size of pike were catching by jig & minnow fish is at least equal to the quality were getting on larger baits. They do seem to want meat right now though and Id recommend using either the jig & minnow approach or use a live bait rig with a lively minnow like a Redtail, Creek Chubb or Sucker. Ive had great luck with using a heavy 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader to protect from the bite off problems associated with using live bait for Pike. The patterns for the pike are varied, but anywhere that you find an abundance of food (for them), you will have some action. On a few of the area lakes with good Tulibee populations, were seeing the Pike gather along the steep drop off areas where these fall spawning bait fish are already staging. On the shallower lakes, were finding the Pike in areas where other forage including Walleyes or Perch is abundant.

     As the fishing season winds down for many, well still being going strong for another couple of weeks and Ill try to keep you posted on the changing conditions. After that, Im hoping to take a little break and do some hunting.

www.jeffsundin.com    jsundin@paulbunyan.net   Copyright Jeff Sundin 2005


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