Fishing Report December 31, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Well okay then! I already knew that it was a great place to take pictures. This little lake is spread out just right for picking up gorgeous sunrises, warm sunsets and beautiful Blue skies. The little lake already has two names anyway, so I guess I'll give it a third and just call it "Beauty Lake". Yes I like that one.
Late last fall, I wondered; Wouldn't it be a hoot if there were a bunch of fish in that lake? Then I'd have a great excuse to go visit more often, I could catch some fish and catch those great pictures all at the same time.
Well I did some checking and according to the DNR, the lake had potential. Let's see ... I read it in the report somewhere ... oh yes, here's the quote from the DNR report; "Black crappie were the most common fish in the gill net and were captured at a high rate when compared to similar lakes. Beauty Lake has a history of good crappie abundance suggesting good angler opportunity for this species". Oh Man! Okay then I'm all set, one of these days I'm gonna pack up my stuff and get over there!
Well Sunday was the day and it was a nice one at that. In fact, I wasn't even on the lake yet and I could already see that I was gonna get great pictures. The sky, the clouds, everything was lined up perfectly, even at 3:00 in the afternoon.
Another nice surprise for me came when I arrived at the landing and saw that there were already a couple of vehicles out on the ice. One of them, a full size pickup truck towing an older camper that had been converted into an ice fishing shelter. That made searching the tiny lake really easy, I just drove my pickup right out to where I thought the deepest water would be and started punching holes.
The first one 15 feet, then 17 feet, 19, 20, 21, 23 every single one of them, each in turn, all were loaded with fish. I mean they were packed with so many fish that I couldn't even get my jig to the bottom without seeing three or four of them come up to attack my bait on the way down. It was a fisherman's dream come true, almost.
As many fish as there were, I couldn't find a keeper in the lake. Baby size Crappies ranging in size from 4 inches to a maximum of maybe 8 inches, were everywhere. The lake is packed with the small fish which appeared to be healthy, just small. I remember growing up in the metro area where lakes populated with stunted panfish was the rule, not the exception. There are a few of them up here too and on this day I found one.
It could have been a disappointing trip if it wasn't just so darn gorgeous out there. But, the sunset came through again, just like it always does. I got some really great pictures and in spite of the fish being small, they still kept me busier than a one armed paper hanger! I even ran into my buddy Ray and we had a nice chat too.
I may go back and try the fishing again, or maybe not. But sooner or later, you're gonna see some more pictures from Beauty Lake!
(12/31) On Bowstring Lake, Erin at Geiger's Trails End Resort checked in to let us know about a great idea. Let's say that you're on Bowstring Lake, fishing for Walleye or Crappies and you get the sudden craving for some warm food. Guess what? You can call Trails End, order a Pizza and they'll deliver it to you out on the ice! Ya' might as well add their number into your cell phone right now, just to be sure that it's handy when you need it; 218-832-3231.
Fishing on Bowstring remains good, Erin said that the freeze has slowed the catch just a bit. So ice fishermen are going to need to move around, locating fresh schools of fish. According to the reports, the action is great out on the larger mid-lake bars. A fishing tip for the crappie fishermen is that they're on the bottom and very finicky! Be patient, they will bite!
Ice conditions are generally good and anglers are using vehicles on the 12-14 inches of good ice. There are a few slushy spots going across the cracks. So if you’re driving out, please be careful and keep your eyes open. Happy New Year’s to ALL. See you on the ice! Erin and Bill Charlton, Trails End Resort .
(12/31) On Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge, Mike Kinsella wrote; "Starting today our plowed road is open. Fishing has been excellent with many big fish being caught this last week.
The anglers who are actively jigging throughout the whole day are doing well. The fish seem to be coming by in school s throughout the day and those who are constantly working a jig or lure that rattles seem to provide more bites. For the past few days there has been a sporadic theme, there will be one house saying the morning was excellent and another saying mid day was better while another says the evening was. This means those fish have been biting all day long but moving around in a big area. Also, Vexilars or other electronics have improved success rates, we have not yet seen many suspended fish but those electronics give you the opportunity to really coax fish which are there to bite.
We are moving out again and are in the 30 foot of water range. It has been another typical year on Lake of the Woods for presentations. Gold is always working well, and the glow colors have been good. - HAPPY NEW YEAR! 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge .
Fishing Report December 30, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Why do you guys have to do that to me? Here I am, perfectly content to stay close to home, wandering around on foot, pestering a few panfish on small lakes.
Meanwhile, I get phone calls from guys like my buddy Matt Mattson who tells me they've caught and released 26 Walleyes on Upper Red Lake before 9:00 AM! Ya better get up here he said; I'd like to take some pictures for ya, but we're too busy catching fish.
I have to admit, he almost had me fired up enough to get in the truck and go, but with a dozen reasons to stick close to home. I decided that I better not get too carried away. Besides, if I ever do get to the bottom of all my chores, I can always slip out for a couple of hours and try another one of these tiny panfish lakes that I have in mind. By the way, it's a list that is growing daily.
For me, the hubub of chasing Walleyes all summer long seems to be enough to satisfy my urge to catch "White Tails". Plus, the small lakes are just so darn beautiful and I've really have been loving the peace and quiet. It has a way of helping clear out the cobwebs.
Rewind, back to Upper Red Lake though. The good reports really are coming in and so far, even ice fishermen who report "slow action", are still coming home with their 4 fish limits. In other words, you're almost guarnateed to catch at least some fish and if you're like my pal Matt, you could wind up having a real Bonanza.
On Upper Red Lake, (12/30) My buddy Chad Benson chimed in to and he says; "The walleyes are still biting on Upper Red. The trick to the best fishing is getting onto a spot that doesn’t have a ton of traffic. I don’t think I have ever seen so many houses & people on the lake, except for back in the boom cycle Crappie days!
Everyone has been spreading out fairly well, but if you end up in the middle of a big city of anglers, the fishing action drops off fast.Center Bar turned on this past week and I heard that it didn’t take long to get a couple of hundred houses set up on it.
The most consistent bite has been out in the main basin of the lake it. That is what I have been working and it has been fairly reliable. There has been a good size range of walleyes showing up with a few nice perch, an occasional crappie and some smaller sized pike too." Good Luck! - Chad
Jigging spoons have been reliable for numbers of fish and according to Matt, Lindy's Darter, Pink/Pearl was working well for his party on Saturday.
Fishing Report December 29, 2012 Jeff Sundin - The weather folks came through with their predictions on Friday and even though the fishing wasn't fantastic, it was definitely good enough for us guys!
It's been a long time since Sean Colter and I have had the chance to fish together, but an odd coincidence thrust us together for part of the day on Friday. It just happened to work out on Thursday night; I was sitting on my sofa, thinking about where I might want to fish on Friday when I got a text from Sean that said; "Do you know anything about Lake Wishuknew?" As it happened, I did and since he was thinking about heading that way, I sort of invited myself along on the trip.
I and Sean, along with his dad Mark and his father in law Jerry, met up at Fred's Bait in Deer River, where we had a quick pow wow and completely changed the whole darn game plan. Instead of going into my familiar territory, we decided to try a little lake that would be new for both of us.
At the landing, it was obvious that we hadn't been the first ice fishermen with the idea. There were lots of holes out there from other anglers previous trips. But even though it had been worked over a little bit, there was still some un-tested territory, so we branched out, drilled a bunch of holes, marked a bunch of fish on our flashers and came up with a nice 5 gallon pail full of nothing. Nope, not a single bite for any of us. We knew there were fish in the lake, we could see 'em on our electronics, but we couldn't make these fish bite. So at about 10 AM we pulled the plug, headed for another lake that was new to me, but was familiar water for the other three.
At the second lake, things went a little better, still not fantastic, but for ice fishing during the daytime, on a sunshiny day, plenty good enough for us guys.
We drilled a lot of holes here too and wandering from one to another, we managed to stumble into small packs of mixed panfish. Sunfish and Crappies seemed to be moving in the same circle around a deep hole that ranged from 28 to 32 feet deep. Occasionally, fish would linger under one of the holes, but eventually, they always moved. As long as we kept following them around, we could trick a fish or two out of each school.
Sean was using a small glow in the dark jig, tipped with a Wax Worm and was the first one to prove that there were fish in the lake. After he caught a few Crappies on that small jig, I looked through my box and came up with the closest bait I had, a Red Glow (White) Toad. The Toad tipped with a couple of Wax Worms got me into the game too and for an hour or so, that combo was perfect.
Later, the fish seemed to get in the mood for a larger meal and for me, switching from the little #12 Toad, up to the much larger #4 Frostee, started up a second wave of action. That jig, the Glow/Green color Frostee kept on working for me until later in the afternoon when it was stolen by a small Northern Pike. It was my last one and once it was gone, I never did come up with another jig that worked as well.
By about 1:30 or so, the boys got itchy feet and wanted to head for Lake Winnie to ice fish for Walleyes. I love Winnie and I love Walleyes too, but it was just so darn nice and peaceful out there that I just had to stay and wait for the sunset alone. I did and it was nice.
On their trip to Lake Winnibigoshish, the action turned out to be about the same as the panfish action was earlier. Sean checked back in later by phone and told me that they picked up 7 or 8 Walleyes during their short trip to Winnie. Fishing somewhere along the main breakline on the East side of the lake, they got in on one of Winnie's typical evening bites. Most of the action comes during a 45 minute period just before dark.
We didn't talk much about presentation, but the typical selection of jigging spoons and blade baits will do the trick. On the breaklines, fish location ranges fro about 16 feet on down to about 26 feet. I usually like to have some holes drilled on both the shallow and deep edges of the structure. I watch the flasher for signs of fish that move in early, but don't bite and then during twilight, head for the one where I saw the most activity.
(12/29) On Upper Red Lake, Brian Castellano wrote; "Three of us headed up yesterday morning to Upper Red Lake. We fished out of Mort's Dock Resort and fished from 9am -1pm.
While there were lots of guys driving full sized trucks around, pulling wheelhouses, we used an ATV and trailer to travel on the lake. When we set up about 2 miles out, in 12 feet of water. We measured 16" of ice in the 2 spots that we fished, which were a couple hundred yards apart. We graphed fish pretty consistently on our graphs, but 70% of them were lookers. Of the 30% that bit, some of them would just move the bobber across the hole and bounce it a little bit, while the ones we caught jigging, would come out of no where and absolutely crush our lures.
We ended up catching about 20, keeping our limit of 12. No slot fish this trip. Glow demon jigs on the bobber rods and Lindy Darters (pink/pearl) and a red Lindy Slick jig were on the jigging rods". - Brian
Fishing Report December 28, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Vehicle traffic is becoming more common on a wider variety of lakes and unless we get a major snowfall, travel conditions should be nearly ideal for anglers with larger "wheel-houses" over the next couple of weekends.
Until this week, Upper Red Lake had been the primary focus for anglers seeking Walleyes. Reports from Red Lake are still generally positive, especially the low light periods early and late in the day. Most ice fishermen are catching enough fish to return home with their limit, mainly fish in the 16 to 18 inch range. According to the most recent reports, activity is still near the shoreline, but moving toward the mid portions of the lake.
Lake of the Woods is going to get the Lion's share of attention from Walleye anglers during the next week. As of Thursday, traffic on the lake is still light, especially going out of the gap at Four Mile Bay. The rental operators in this area are currently allowing small vehicles out onto the lake via their access road. But so far, full size rigs are still restricted.
At Zippel Bay, ice conditions are better and according to a friend who called yesterday, Zippel bay Resort is allowing full size rigs out onto the lake via their roads.
Walleye fishing on Lake of the Woods has been good, but so far fishermen are working at gathering their limits of fish. Everyone is catching some and they're all eating fresh fish, but anglers are still waiting for the prime time, early ice action to get under way.
On Lake Winnibigoshish, a note from Highbanks Resort said that "mid-size vehicles" are being allowed out onto Lake Winnie beginning today. The road fee at Highbanks is $10 per day and accesses the mid lake structure from the East side of the lake, all the way out to the Northwest bars and humps. Highbanks reported ice thicknesses ranging from 12 to 14 inches with a 5 inch layer of snow cover.
(12/28) From The Iron Range, Greg Clusiau; "We pulled portable shelters out onto (Lake of the Woods) but had reserved one of Sportsmans rental shacks as well. Everyone but Blake and I fished inside the rental unit. Using our Otters, we were able to move around and look for more fish when the bite slowed. We did, however, join everyone for a hot lunch that was provided by Sportsmans. That really hit the spot. The fishing on this day started out strong in the morning and" ... >> Read Greg's Full Report .
Fishing Report December 27, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Reports of good fishing are coming in from all around the itasca area. Ice conditions are generally very good, although there are still some nagging slushy spots under the deeper snow drifts on some lakes. Snow cover on area lakes ranges from 2 to 6 inches depending on the lake. There are still some areas of light slush, conditions continue to improve daily. Travel by ATV should be easily manageable, almost everywhere.
Vehicle traffic is becoming more common on a wider variety of lakes too and unless we get a major snowfall, travel conditions should be nearly ideal for anglers with larger "wheel-houses" over the next couple of weekends.
For today, Temperatures are predicted to moderate somewhat, better yet, winds are supposed to remain calm. After several days in the deep-freeze, I don't think there's any way to prevent me from dragging my sled out onto the lake later today.
(12/24) Ryan Peterson checked in from Lake Winnibigoshish; "On the south end of Lake Winnie we are finding right around a foot of ice, there has been some light stuff (4000lbs or less)driving out and half tons or less will be OK on Dec 26th. Fishing had been good up to yesterday for both walleye and perch from 18 to 28fow either on the break-line or mid lake bars and humps." Have a great Christmas, Ryan Peterson
(12/24) On Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge, Mike Kinsella wrote; "We have started to move a little deeper and are finding success in 26 to 30 feet of water. Sauger bite has been picki ng up with some walleyes mixed in. Live fatheads have been working, but we have had some very good reports from those using frozen shiners. The fish continue to hug the bottom with very few suspended.
We are still transporting people to and from the fishing spots. We hope to be driving soon, but we need some more ice across the bay. The cold weather over the next few days should help. - I hope everyone has a great holiday season. Remember to check us out on facebook for updates. - FISH ON
(12/27) On Bowstring Lake, Erin at Geiger's Trails End Resort; Wednesday was the first time that they saw a vehicle head out on to Bowstring Lake. According to Erin, they thought it was a little bit early for vehicle traffic. But after the angler drove out, dropped his 'wheel-house", ice shelter and returned to shore, he reported 10 to 11 inches of good, solid ice.
According to Erin, Crappie action has been reliable on Bowstring and offers these words of wisdom; "Try your luck on the bottom, Crappies are not suspended yet." If you're heading out on the lake this weekend, have fun, but be careful. Happy New Year’s to ALL. See you on the ice! Erin and Bill Charlton, Trails End Resort .
(12/27) On Bowstring Lake, Bowstring Shores Resort, Darv Oelke says; "Nice walleyes in the 18-20 feet of water. Perch have been biting on a jig and crappie minnow in the 14-18 ft of water. Crappies seem to be biting on a minnow head and jig in about the 18-24 ft of water, both on Bikini bar and the south end of the lake.
If you don't want to sit out in the cold, Bowstring Shores has heated fish houses to rent, set up and ready to go." Darv and Marjean Oelke, Bowstring Shores Resort.
(12/27) Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort on Ball Club Lake; "Recent cold sub-zero weather and light snow on the lake has finally pushed the ice to 10 inches thick. Some areas of the lake have blown clear of snow and conditions are very good for ATV and snow machines. Light trucks are moving around on the South end of the lake and local fishermen have about two dozen day houses set out.
The phone has been busy with inquiries, but we haven't seen many fishermen yet. I think everyone has been waiting for the thicker ice. Early fishermen have been working the rim of the lake with live bait for Perch and Northerns in around 12 feet, but the bigger Perch have come from a little deeper water 18-20 feet.
Look for last summers weed beds. Water clarity is exceptionally good for underwater cam use or dark house spearing. Happy New Year! - Gus Sheker. Gus' Place Resort .
(12/27) Finding Jumbo Perch can be a little challenging, especially on big water. But, there are ways to tip the odds in your favor. Location plus presentation both play a part and Jon Thelen shares proven tips for finding and catching bigger Perch on this, new episode of Fish Ed. Click to view >> Jumbo Perch Under The Ice .
(12/27) Bemidji Lakes Area, Paul A. Nelson, Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service says; "Lakes in the Bemidji area added several more inches of ice this past week, with consecutive nights of below zero temperatures and daily highs struggling to rise into the single digits above zero.
Most of the local lakes now have at least ten inches of good ice, with Upper Red Lake and Lake of the Woods both having around 15 inches of ice.
Walleye anglers in Upper Red Lake have been finding walleyes moving further from shore into 9 to 12 feet of water. Anglers may want to keep moving until they find a location where they are getting bites or at least seeing walleyes on sonar moving through on a fairly regular basis.
Anglers on Leech Lake have been finding both perch and walleyes on the deep edge of the weeds or on rocks. The perch bite has been best during the day, while the walleyes have been biting best in the mornings and evenings or after dark.
Crappie anglers are finding fish on the edges of the deep holes in 25 to 35 feet of water in most lakes. The crappies are usually suspended several feet off the bottom, so anglers often need to use their electronics to get their presentations at the same level as the crappies.
Sunfish usually like the deep edge of the weeds or mud flats in less than 30 feet of water. Sunfish will often be tight to the weeds or close to bottom, where they can feed on insects.
Licensed anglers are allowed to fish two lines during the winter in Minnesota. Many anglers like to watch their main line with sonar and fish for walleyes or panfish and then put out a tip-up for their second line, baited with a larger minnow for northern pike, bass or larger walleyes." - Paul A. Nelson, Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service, firstname.lastname@example.org 218.759.2235 .
Fishing Report December 23, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Ice thicknesses ranging from 7 inches to one foot, coupled with fair weather and calm winds. That seemed like perfect timing for anglers who want to take advantage of a "bonus weekend" before Christmas. Except for one small thing, there wasn't many people out there.
Okay, that was a surprise and for a few hours a real head scratcher. I would have guessed that anglers would be chomping at the bit to get out on area lakes while the ice is good and the fish are biting. But when I walked into Fred's Bait in Deer River on Staurday afternoon, the word at the counter was s-l-o-w. Except for some groups of fishermen heading toward Upper Red Lake, there wasn't much going on. I know that Christmas is a busy time, but I'm not talking about folks driving in from hundreds of miles away. What I mean is; "Where are the people that live right here, just the ones that live in a county that offers a thousand lakes, right in their own back yards?"
Hmm ..., I'm the type of guy that likes a brain teaser and so my brain was engaged on this question for a little while. The problem for me, is that I figured it out and it was really simple; But I can't say what it is, at least not for now. Maybe I'll save this one for a time when I can sit down and write a nice long story. Save it for a place larger than this simple report. In the meantime, it worked out great for me, I took advantage of having another little lake all to myself; A nice quiet spot to do my multi-tasking.
On Saturday, I didn't really have a lot of pressure to find fish or try to catch a lot of them. I just wanted a couple of hours to get outside and relax. If there wasn't a gigantic school of fish, it didn't even matter because I already knew what I'd be cooking for dinner. North Dakota Pheasants, baked Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy, which by the way, were especially tasty, even if I do say so myself!
I picked a small lake, less than 100 acres, where I knew that I could walk out to the lakes only deep water and probably drill enough holes to find a handfull of fish, even if I didn't find the best spot. According to the map, the lake has one submerged point and it's connected from the shoreline, all the way out into the lakes deepest water. That looked like a good starting spot, so I hoofed it into that general area and fired up the auger.
I surprised myself by having a rare outburst of ambition, drilling more holes than I thought I needed. But with only a couple of hours to fish, I thought it would be nice to have them already drilled so if it got interesting, I could just jump from spot to spot as the twilight settled in.
At the first hole I fished, I saw a mark on the flasher about two feet above the bottom in 26 feet of water. As soon as I got my bait into the water and let it fall toward the bottom, I could see that fish heading upward. Oh oh I thought, this is gonna be good and it was! A decent size Bluegill saw the bait, came up five feet and nailed it. That turned out to be the story of the afternoon, if I could see a fish, they struck. But, I didn't see a lot of fish.
After I walked a full tour of all the holes I drilled, I got a feel for the whereabouts of the submerged point that I mentioned earlier. Some of the holes were too deep, 32 to 33 feet and some were too shallow, 22 to 24 feet. But the holes that were located on the outer edges of the point, just before the drop into the deepest water, these were the ones where I saw fish consistently. That's a pattern that I've seen a lot of times, especially on our better Crappie lakes and it could be a handy thing to know the next time you're looking for some panfish.
After experimenting with a few baits, the fish here showed a really strong preference for Lindy's Fat Boy, #8 size, tipped with a couple of Wax Worms. I never did find a big school of fish, instead I'd discover one or two at a time, almost all of them struck the bait. Judging by how aggressive the singles and double were, I would probably had a spasm if I had stumbled into the mother lode.
(12/23) On Trout Lake, at Coleraine, Sean Casey checked in with an update; "Using the Hollywood Bait access, fishing off to the left of the community spot. I caught one 17-1/2 inch Walleye and one 4 pound Northern Pike at 4pm that's it. The water is cloudy. Fishing in 10-14 feet of water, I can't see the bottom, but I can see bait when jigged".
Sean added that driving 4 wheelers out long distances seems crazy to him, but that there are anglers doing it right now.
(12/22) Ryan Peterson checked in from Lake Winnibigoshish; He's been hustling around Lake Winnibigosh, busy getting houses out and plowed roads ready for traffic. Ryan says; "we have 11 to 12 inches of good ice on the southeast end. There is very little slush as of now. Fishing for both Walleyes and Northern Pike has been good in 18 to 28 feet of water. Perch fishing action has picked up somewhat, but has not been great so far. - Ryan Peterson's Guiding .
(12/22) On Cutfoot Sioux, ice conditions are similar. Thickness ranges from 9 to 10 inches and on Friday, anglers using a small pickup truck were spotted on the ice. When asked about their travel experience, they said that they'd gotten the idea to drive out after seeing an angler using a full size truck out there on Thursday. Whether you want to drive out there or not, is up to you. But, a friend of mine did suggest that conditions would be plenty good for ATV or snowmobile travel.
(12/22) On Lake Winnie, Highbanks Resort has started their countdown; "(There are) 11 inches of ice measured 12/21/12 out in front of High Banks. 4-5 inches of snow cover. Minimal slush. We will be opening at 7:00pm on Saturday evening, December 29, 2012 for the ice fishing season! Happy Holidays! We are looking forward to seeing everyone!
(12/22) On Lake Winnie, Scott Patterson offered a fantastic report. He said that between reading my recent comments about "doing your homework" and finding himself in a generous, Christmas mood, he thought it might be a good time to share his thoughts.
Scott says; " Winnie is my only winter location and Walleyes are my only target.
On Tuesday the Walleyes were hungry and aggressive. I got a late start and it was 3:00 by the time I was set up. At 4:15 I was packed up and heading back to shore with a limit of 15"ers. Released a half dozen smaller eyes and one over - around 22". The fish showed no preference in color as I tried 3 different colored spoons each tipped with a minnow head with the same results. The flasher told me right when each fish would hit my spoon by the speed in which they were rising. There were times I would be watching my spoon drop on the flasher and the fish rising to meet it at the same time. I am taking an atv pulling a portable house. I haven't ventured out to the mid-lake humps yet, still fishing the shoreline related underwater points. I have found nothing less than 10" of ice and only the occasional slush spot while driving out. The slush spots are only 10-20 feet long and only a few inches deep.
On Wednesday the action was totally different. I had my best friend Craig in my house with me. I was jigging and he was using a bobber rig with a plain hook and minnow and he was out fishing me. It took us 4 hours to catch our two person limit, from 2:30 - 6:30. I of course told Craig he wouldn't have caught any fish if it wasn't for me calling the fish in with my rattlin spoon. I was making the ultimate sacrifice by not switching to a dead stick and letting him catch most of the fish (good natured ribbing is a big part of fishing with a partner). In reality I just enjoy trying to figure out what will trigger a bite when the fish are sluggish. I tried many different spoons in various sizes, colors and sounds. A blue and silver jigging rap seemed to be working until a probable northern stole it with one quick hit and it was the only one I had with me. I finally scaled down to the smallest spoon in glow red and small minnow head with some success. The flasher showed the fish rising very slow to look. I tried many jigging variations. When the fish would come in for a look: if I let my spoon sit still they would look and then slowly swim away, any quick movement to the spoon and they would quickly disappear, a very slow lift and drop of maybe 6" with a pause in between was the only thing that worked occasionally. Craig did haul in a 24" which made his day.
Thursday, the eyes were still a bit sluggish. It gets very frustrating to watch fish after fish rise up, examine your presentation for what seems like an eternity only to swim away no matter what you do or don't do. Using the previous days experience I immediately went small with my spoons and slow movements but it wasn't working. I finally went in the opposite direction with some results. Upsized my spoon to a flashy glow green/gold color and while the fish had its nose close I would do a quick short jerk of an inch or two is all. Any more than that would just scare the fish away. I find it amasing how different the fish react each day. I did find a nice northern around 8 pounds when I had the smallest, not the largest, of spoons attached......go figure.
Early ice has always been my best winter walleye fishing. Even on what I call sluggish days I am catching many eyes with the best time period so far between 3:00 and 4:30. Last year I had a good bite right at dark and after dark but the bite after dark this year hasn't been as good. The difference I see this year so far is the water is slightly stained whereas last year I could see a flashy spoon in 20 feet. There are probably many, many more reasons for the difference in prime time but the stained water is what I'm going with and I'm sticking to it - lol! Scott Patterson *Note: Thank you Scott .
Oh and by the way, whenever you're feeling generous and want to help others with their homework, you can always click here to >> Add Your Fishing Report . Don't worry, we're not gonna ask you to share your secret spot, just let us know what conditions you found in your area. That's lucky enough for us guys!
(12/22) On Lake Winnie, I'm already hearing reports about light trucks and ATV's heading toward the middle of the lake. Walleye action on Winnibigosh has been steady, fishing near mid-lake bars and on some of the smaller humps. Some anglers are catching decent Northern Pike on the larger main bars like the Bena Bar, Horsehoe Bar and Center Bar. Tip-ups with large minnows will trigger Pike to strike.
(12/22) On Upper Red Lake, they've been driving for a while already. Reports about Walleye fishing are up and down, but for most anglers, limits of fish are still the rule of thumb. Early morning and late evening periods are the best and using subtle approaches is working better than aggressive jigging.
For those of you heading toward Deer River to fish this weekend, the only real trouble spots will be the deep, clear water lakes. Back bays and protected areas may be fairly safe, but on lakes like Pokegama, Deer, Trout and other similar waters, be extremely careful when heading toward any of the deep water areas of the lake.
(12/22) On Cass Lake, Elyjah Guinn popped in with a quick note; "Just to get some info out there, I was on cass lake (and) some people are driving trucks and cars onto the lake(s) in some spots. Also heard the fishing was doing pretty good. *Note: We've heard about report about an angler or anglers that may have broken through the ice somewhere on Cass Lake. It could be great ice in shallow back bays and protected areas, but be sure to excercise extra caution before venturing out over the lakes main, deep water basin.
(12/22) Early Ice Panfish are on the agenda for Jon Thelen. This week Jon details how and where to catch early ice Bluegill and Crappie. While the weather conditions change throughout the day and a cold front moves in, these northern Minnesota panfish cooperate just enough to put together a great early winter fish fry. Click to view >> Early Ice Panfishing .
(12/22) On The Iron Range, From Greg Clusiau; "When it came time for crappies, a small minnow was always used. Bluegills were always caught by using a piece of night crawler, although my largest, back then, inhaled a “Crappie Queen” under a bobber. The fish was caught while casting off shore and weighed 1 pound 5 ounces. It was a real dandy which won the local fishing contest, like the “Fuzzy Grub" ... >> Read Greg's Full Report .
(12/22) Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort on Ball Club Lake; "In front of the resort, ice is 6 inches thick to the drop-off. The South end of the lake has 9-10 inches of ice and the middle of the lake remains unsafe with the thinnest ice and should be avoided.
The thicker ice on the South end is supporting ATV and light truck travel, but the majority of the lake is still restricted to travel on foot or ATV around the rim of the lake. Snow depth on the ice is 5-6 inches of light powder.
Fishermen are restricted to the safe areas they can access, however we have seen some pretty nice Perch coming from shallow water 6-8 feet deep using whole live Fat Heads. The bite in consistent during the daylight hours as long as the barometer isn't bouncing. Northern fishermen are also doing well both angling & spearing in the same shallow water. I expect Walleye fishing to improve once we have greater access to safe thicker ice and more areas of the lake can be fished. The forecast is for colder weather ahead.
Gus' Place is open all winter. Cabins, Day Houses, Dark Houses and Sleepers; Day Guide Services are also available. Call us free 1-888-246-8520.
I always share GPS info with my customers." - Gus Sheker. Gus' Place Resort .
Fishing Report December 22, 2012 Jeff Sundin - More good news! Today is December 22nd and for anyone who didn't already know; The days are officially getting longer now. It won't seem obvious at first, but soon, we'll be getting ready for the summer suntan season again. Ah just think, even today we're gonna have 3 extra seconds of daylight that we didn't have yesterday. Whatd'ya'mean that's not much? I could really do a lot with an extra 3 seconds, Oh Man, I'd have time to mention ...
On Friday, colder temperatures moved ice conditions another step in the right direction. Ice thicknesses still vary a lot from lake to lake, but there are more reports of ATV and even light truck traffic coming in every few hours now.
I was North of Deer River, helping a friend put his ice shelter out onto one of the deeper, later freezing lakes. We measured a solid 9 inches of good clear ice. There was still some slush trapped between the ice sheet and the snow, but I'd still rate travel conditions as good. We were able to pull the shelter easily using a large ATV, it was tempted to bog down in the slush, but still made the trip without getting stuck.
There were snowmobile tracks on the bay already and they appeared old, maybe three or four days had passed since they were out there.
By the time we scoped out a starting spot, moved the house and got it ready to use, we didn't have a lot of time to fish. There were signs of some deep panfish though and when I wandered off to drill a few test holes, I managed to pick up a handful of panfish, mostly small, except for one 9 inch Bluegill. I sighted several fish on the flasher ranging in depth from 28 to 32 feet over a soft, Marl bottom. I'll step out on a limb and predict better fishing ahead, as soon as the fish settle down from effects of this cold snap.
Fishing Report December 21, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Just in case you're out there, somewhere, reading today's report. Northern Minnesota somehow missed out on the end of the world and we're still here!
We did get a blast of cold air overnight, but we even missed out completely on the snow. Most of that fell a few hundred miles to our South and even further.
Speaking strictly in terms of fishing, I guess I'd rather have the cold temperatures, than the heavy snow. But we know, it's not just about the fishing. So once the ice has a good solid foot hold and we can get around the ice, in warm trucks, on plowed roads; Well then you can have all of the snow you want! I might even pitch in and help build a big snowman or an Igloo!
There are a lot of anglers heading this way for the weekend and their timing is perfect. The steady dip toward lower temperatures has already been helping to improve ice conditions. With a full week of single digit low temperatures on the way, I'm guessing that I'll be driving my truck to a good fishing spot just after Christmas.
I didn't fish on Thursday, but I did make time to go out for a tour of the area. This was the first day that I noticed anglers, or at least angling shelters on every single lake I checked.
I had one particular lake on my mind, one that made a big impression on me a couple of years ago, during the fall. I needed to go find out if I could get on that lake or not. While it looked quite a bit different than it did the last time I was there, the access was open and there were already a couple of dark houses on the ice. So whoot hoot, I have a new target picked out for later today or maybe tomorrow.
Along the trail, I noticed that some of the larger, more popular area lakes are getting some ATV traffic on them. I think I'm going to get mine ready and expect to be testing out the new skins within the week. I also noticed that some of the more well known panfish spots are becoming inhabitied with portable shelters.
On Lake Winnie, I'm already hearing reports about light trucks and ATV's heading toward the middle of the lake. Walleye action on Winnibigosh has been steady, fishing near mid-lake bars and on some of the smaller humps. Some anglers are catching decent Northern Pike on the larger main bars like the Bena Bar, Horsehoe Bar and Center Bar. Tip-ups with large minnows will trigger Pike to strike.
On Upper Red Lake, they've been driving for a while already. Reports about Walleye fishing are up and down, but for most anglers, limits of fish are still the rule of thumb. Early morning and late evening periods are the best and using subtle approaches is working better than aggressive jigging.
For those of you heading toward Deer River to fish this weekend, the only real trouble spots will be the deep, clear water lakes. Back bays and protected areas may be fairly safe, but on lakes like Pokegama, Deer, Trout and other similar waters, be extremely careful when heading toward any of the deep water areas of the lake.
But before I go; I want to share the story that my friend Mike Nolan, El Dorado, KS sent me yesterday. Mike has always been a good friend and a fan, so it tickles me to have a good excuse to let you get to know him a little.
Mike says; "My fishing report is not about an iced over fishing lake, freezing my fingers, feet, nose and ears off.
(Instead), I was one of the lucky Lurenet winners. I took the web page and had my eyes dancing all over the pages. I ordered, torpedoes, crazy crawlers, devils horse, rebel crawfish and grasshoppers, Cordell crazy shad, lazy ike, jitterbugs, bomber jointed, moss bass, lucky 13, hula popper, Ozark claw, crappie wooly, crappie beavertail, two spools of Silver thread line. Ordered one to three each of all the listed items and it's all going to my four grandkids for Christmas presents.
They all have been taught to fish and range in grades from 7th to Junior in highschool. Started fishing with me and their grandmother about second grade. When they caught their first fish I told them they to had kiss it on the mouth or they would never be fishermen. Each one did and I love to take every one of them fishing. The Sophomore boy has said that for his senior graduation present, he wants to go to Minnesota and fish with Jeff Sundin.
So much for my fishing report; I'm going to the freezer to get out enough Minnesota fish from our last trip for a big family fish fry this weekend, when all will be home for Christmas. That's my kind of cold weather fishing, going to the freezer and getting my hands cold with packages of frozen fish". Mike Nolan, El Dorado, KS Hmm... Family fish fry during the Christmas season, I'll bet that's something that could really catch on! :)!!
Fishing Report December 20, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Okay, I am sorry for this crass commercial message; But I can't do anything else until I remind you; Tomorrow is the last day that we can be sure that gift certificates for Christmas will arrive on time. I've got a few going into the mail today, so you might just as well get yours right now and save me an extra trip. Click here and buy a Guided Fishing Trip for Christmas.
In the Deer River area, there are a whole bunch of lakes that I drive by all of the time, but almost never stop to fish in the winter. Part of my mission for this ice fishing season has been to find off-beat panfish spots and as long as I'm searching anyway, I thought it might be fun to find places to fish that are right in my own back yard. Some of them, almost literally.
On Wednesday, it was my turn to be the ramrod, planning the fishing trip for my pal Arne. When he arrived here, I was still scratching my head, I had it narrowed down to three lakes. I knew if I kept thinking too long, the list would get longer instead of shorter, so I forced myself out of the office and started packing gear. Before we left my house, we had it narrowed to two choices. One lake I thought would be a good choice for Sunfish, with an outside chance at Crappies. The other, a good Crappie spot with an outside shot at some Bluegills. In the end, it seemed like we could have some fun getting even with the Sunfish that had pestered my Night Crawlers while we were Walleye fishing last summer.
At the lake, the surface of the ice was a little eerie looking. There was a fairly reliable base of "good ice" underneath the snow, it was maybe 5 to 6 inches thick. But on top of the ice, there were signs of slush and a lot of odd looking holes. We drilled a few holes and figured out that the weird holes were in a thin, top layer of ice that had formed above the snow. They were formed by runoff water that had found it's way off of the thin surface layer. In some areas, there had been enough water to saturate the snow and these areas had re-frozen. Walking in these areas was fairly easy, but trying to walk where there was still snow cover was tricky because we'd break through the thin, surface layer and find our feet in a couple inches of slush soup trapped between the two ice sheets.
I had my mind set on finding a slow tapering point that led into deep water; Arne was more determined to find the deeper hole first. In the end, the fish turned out to be in between. While I was scouting from one hole to another, I heard Arne let out a hoot, looked over and saw him holding the first fish. A decent size Bluegill, suitable for a meal, even if it wasn't a trophy. Ironically, that was the only Sunfish we caught. Our flashers were showing more fish, but getting them to bite, that just wasn't happening.
Luckily for me, I wandered out a little deeper and stumbled into one of those unexpected treats that this lake seems to like giving me. Fishing in about 26 feet of water, a school of fish showed up on the flasher. They were about three feet off the bottom, so I lfted my Frostee Jig just a little higher. Here he comes, up, up .... WHAM. A nice Crappie. I pinned on a couple of new Wax Worms, dropped back down and the same thing happened again, then again and ..... Now I have four nice Crappies laying on the ice and it's starting to get dark. There are still fish on the flasher, but I sure wanted to get some pictures and .... Well, I wasn't feeling all that greedy and I promised to take the pictures, so that's what I did.
Arne had a similar experience, except when his fish showed up on the flasher, the first one he caught got his line tangled around the transducer. That set off a chain reaction of troubles that delayed Arne from capitalizing on the school of fish during their cameo appearance.
These were the first Crappies I've caught in this lake in at least 25 years. I don't really know how many are there, but judging by the sudden appearance and equally sudden vanishing, there probably aren't a million of them in there. I have a feeling that we saw alot of those Sunfish on our screens though. Something was holding them back from getting active, but I'll probably go back to check out those Sunfish again. For now though, I'm just happy that I was there. Stumbling into a lucky spot never hurt anything!
(12/20) On Bowstring Lake, Bowstring Shores Resort ; "Currently had 8-10 inches of ice. Crappies are in the 18-20 ft of water using a jig and minnow Walleyes in about the 16-20 feet of water. There have been some nice Perch caught in ther same areas as well.Haven't seen any crappies being caught yet, but have heard some guys were catching them". Merry Christmas! Darv and MarjeanOelke, Bowstring Shores Resort
(12/20) From somewhere around Marcell, MN Rob Hamling wrote; "The fishing in the Marcell area has been good, many crappies with sizes up to 12.5 inches. The bait of choice has been a small jigging spoon with a minnow head, this has been a switch from my usual rat finke and grubs. Most fish have been suspended about 10-15 ft. off bottom in 35-40 ft. of water."
Fishing Report December 19, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Remember school? Homework? Well good, then you remember the concept; You have an assignment from the teacher, who then tells you where you can get the information that will help you complete the work. I don't ever recall the teacher saying; "Hey, Just go get the answers from that cute girl in the plaid skirt" (Not that I wouldn't have liked to). But I'll bet you get the idea. Okay, now take a closer look at these reports.
We're working hard at getting you enough information so that you can finish your homework and complete your assignment. The whole idea is to give you enough clues about where to look and identify some trends that you might expect to find when you get here. You'll know your own grade soon, because the test comes when you show up, select a lake, figure out where to drill your holes and try catching a fish.
What I'm trying to say, without getting too preachy is; "If all you want to do is find a free place to get a GPS coordinate, or if you're looking for the precise ice thickness, in a specific spot on Lake Wishuknew, then there's a pretty fair chance that we won't have your answer.
On the other hand, if you like doing your own thinking and like having a few extra tools. Or if you just want to keep your finger on the pulse of what's been happening in the area. Or even if you just want to stay connected with trends in the territory you love, well then we've got all kinds of good stuff, just for you!
Judging by the email messages I've been getting; The past few days have been a little confusing for folks who've been trying to pin down specific information, about specific lakes and I understand why. When you read one report that says the ice is 4 to 5 inches thick and then read another one that says there are anglers driving trucks on a lake, the information doesn't seem to square up.
But I'm afraid that's just how it is right now. The ice hasn't played fair this season. It's gotten thicker, faster on some lakes than it has on others. Sometimes even dissimilar areas within the same lake, have ice thickness ranging from good, safe ice, to thin "White Knuckle" ice conditions. A great illustration is the report that came in today from Gus' Place Resort on Ball Club Lake. Some areas of that lake are supporting vehicle traffic while others are barely safe enough for foot travel.
Please bear in mind, there is no such thing as safe ice. So we're never gonna tell you where to go or when to go there. We can do a good job of telling you what others are doing though, so be sure to read all of the reports, including clicking through to the links. That's what they're for, to help you do your homework and make your own decisions.
(12/19) On Lake Winnie, Reed Ylitalo wrote; "I was out on the lake today. I ran from the south end all the way up to the north side of Winnie found great thickness of ice 10 to 12 inches of good ice ran into 7 or so slush pockets. You can travel all over with a four-wheelers. As far as fishing went, we fished mostly bigger structure 28' all the way up to 19 FOW. The best bait was a lindy flyer tipped with a minnow head for walleyes, the perch bait was a northland doodle bug tipped with a minnow head as well". - Reed Ylitalo - Wings and walleyes guide service .
(12/19) LakeMaster® has released six new digital GPS map charts in time for the holidays! The new Humminbird® SD map cards are loaded with new high definition and enhanced contour data for the lakes, rivers, and reservoirs YOU fish. Plus, new for 2013, LakeMaster map cards are featuring "Follow the Contour" for compatible i-Pilot® Link™ systems. Set your Minn-Kota® trolling motor to automatically follow any Lakemaster contour or offset from the shoreline allowing you to focus more on fishing than ever before. - Order online or at your favorite sporting goods retail store.
(12/19) On Upper Red Lake, Chad Benson gave a quick update; "The walleyes on Upper Red are still cooperating fairly well this past week. The bite did slow down some compared to the week before but even a slower bite on Red is pretty darn good". "The fish haven’t been quite as aggressive as they were, so more bites have been coming on slower more subtle presentations".
Chad says that Walleyes have moved out a little deeper since last week. Most anglers are getting limits of Walleyes fishing on shoreline breaks in water depths of 11 to 13 feet.
Jigging baits like the Rattlin' Flyers will catch plenty of fish, so will blade baits, but don't put too much action on them. He thinks that more subtle presentations and even set lines are triggering more fish to strike right now. The rattle reels have been producing well with just a plain hook & split shot attached. #4 hooks seem to be about the right size.
Chad says that most of the anglers are spread out fairly well and he thinks that's a key to success. His best advice is; "Don’t get in a busy area, try to find a wide open space between other anglers".
Chad said; "Ice conditions are shaping up nicely. Half ton trucks and lighter vehicles, like ATV's have been allowed out the past couple of days. Ice thickness has been 12-14 inches in most areas I have been fishing. I would definitely stay near the shoreline break, as the ice further out has been untested and I know there was some major shifting going on out there last weekend."
Finally, Some nice pike have been showing up recently too. The largest so far has been 41 inches, but there are more to come. Chad Benson .
Fishing Report December 18, 2012 Jeff Sundin -A little less convenient, but a lot more action packed! Maybe that's what the fish wanted, maybe that nice blanket of fresh snow cover is just what the Doctor ordered?
On Monday, I met my crew early, while it was still dark outside. We high-tailed it to the landing of a small panfish lake, where we hoped to improve our odds by catching an early morning bite for Sunfish, maybe even some Crappies.
At the landing, everything in sight was pure White; The trees, the trails, the lake, everything. Except for a pair of Deer that beat us to the path and laid down their own tracks first, the snow was completely un-disturbed. It was so gorgeous that I felt like just standing there and admiring the scenery instead of walking out to drill holes. But if we were gonna ever catch a fish, well, you know ....
So we worked our way out onto the the thin ice where at first, it was just a little bit creepy. The ice, still only 4 to 5 inches thick, seemed to having trouble holding up under the weight of the wet snow. There was water under the snow, in all of the areas where holes drilled last week, never re-froze solid before the weekend storm. That resulted in a lot of slush under the snow and in some areas, the water was two or three inches deep. Luckily though, the ice underneath remained sound and after a slight adjustment period, we regained our confidence; Soggy, but free to explore potential fish catching territory.
After a week of moving up hill, trying to coax sluggish fish to bite, this was finally my day to coast. Yes, sometimes, things just go like clockwork and this turned out to be one of them. The first handful of holes that I drilled all began to produce panfish action almost immediately. For a couple of hours, we were able to catch fish in a variety of ways, using our favorite baits.
The water depth varied from about 16 feet on the shallow side down to about 19 feet on the deep end. We didn't have much action in the deepest holes and as far as I recall, we never caught any fish in water deeper than 20 feet. At first, the most active fish were found by concentrating on the shallower holes. But eventually the fish dispersed and moved slightly deeper.
Heavier, larger profile baits produced both Sunfish and Crappies. For me, a Red/Glow Frostee Spoon ( the same one I've been using for a week ), tipped with 3 or 4 Wax Worms provided steady action. My fishing partner was using a Rattlin' Flyer Spoon and he was holding his own too. It was really nice to use the larger baits because we could get them in the water fast, fish them agressively and capitalize on more opportunities. After a while though, the fish did become shy and we did need to scale back.
Once we started experimenting with tiny baits, I'm not if there was a clear winner or not. I had a really nice run using Lindy's Toad tipped with a single Wax Worm but we had action on other small baits too. Overall, I think that the glow colors were best. Red/Glow, Pink Glow and White produced the best "mixed bag" results. Darker colors, especially while using the toads, produced a better run of Sunfish.
By days end, hopping from hole to hole had become a really important strategy. Even though the fish weren't super aggressive, they were still easily catchable, once we found them and teased them into striking. Like always, some holes were better than others and we could return to them repeatedly to "cherry pick" a fish or two.
(12/18) Ryan Peterson checked in from Lake Winnibigoshish; "On Lake Winnie we are finding 9 to 10 inches of good ice, ATVs and snowmobiles are running all over. The walleye fishing has been good out on the main lake structure in 20 to 28 fow jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head have been working best. Perch fishing has been a little on the slow side this week although we did see a little pick up on the perch fishing Friday."
(12/18) Finding Active, Early Ice Walleye is the first class subject in the debut episode of "Fish ED". Jon Thelen's mission is to show you what's going on at Red Lake right now; And how he catches big, early-ice walleyes on the Lindy Darter . It's a great technique you can take anywhere for big, early season 'eyes through the ice. Click to view >> First Ice ForRed Lake Walleyes .
(12/18) On Bowstring Lake, Erin at Geiger's Trails End Resort says; "Come one, Come All! We have ICE!!!! 7 inches… I see portables out there already. We are making ice daily! Cabins are available. Use of a fish house is FREE with a cabin rental. Make time,…and we will take care of the rest. New to Geiger’s this year is plastic jigs and bait. We will be fishing the lake during the day to get a better idea how the fishing is". - Erin
(12/18) Bemidji Lakes Area; From Matthew Bruer, Northcountry Guide Service; "Ice in the Bemidji area is in great shape! We got a nice clean slate, and the growth has been stellar. Bigger lakes are showing 7-9” including Lake Bemidji. Be careful out there though, as it’s part of a river system, and spots can be thinner in areas… Smaller lakes didn’t get as much snow blown around, and the insulation kept the ice growth down a bit. 5-8” on most of the smaller panfish lakes.
Fishing has been stellar. Panfish are on the feed, and are hot and heavy in typical early ice areas. Green weeds, weed edges, and out in the basins for crappies are great spots to start. Walleyes are hitting well in a variety of locations. Lindy Darters have been great call baits, and the suicidal fish have been tearing them up. Otherwise, a Rattlin’ Flyer Spoon tipped with some meat has been working as well. Anywhere from 28-42’ off structure, as well as those flash bites during low-light times of day on the shoreline breaks in 8-18’ of water.
Good luck out there, and be safe during early ice! Matthew J. Breuer - Northcountry Guide Service (218) 444-6479
(12/18) On Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge, Mike Kinsella wrote; "We started fishing last Thursday and hit the ground running. A mix of walleye and sauger were caught in 22 to 24 feet . Aggressive jigging techniques were working well for the bigger fish. Fish seem to be sticking to the bottom or just above. The future of the fishery looks bright as lots of smaller fish are being caught.
We have 11+ inches of ice where we are fishing. Off of the marked trails, there is still as little as 3 to 4 inches o f ice, so please be careful. The water clarity is good and it looks to be a great winter of ice fishing!
Our sleeper houses are out on the ice and we have some openings for the early ice. Give us a call! - FISH ON! 1-800-776-3474 .
(12/19) On Lake of the Woods, Sportman's Lodges, Jacki LaValla said; "The season is in full swing! 10-14 inches of ice in the areas we travel and fish right now. The bite started off last week real active and hot. The last few days have been a little slower but anglers are still getting some nice fish. The guides report a mix of walleyes and saugers being caught Nice sized walleyes 15”-19” along with a few slot fish (19.5”-28”). They report the saugers are active, several nice quality size along with a fair amount of smaller ones that keep you busy. The best time of day has varied. Some of our houses are doing best in the morning and evening and some are finding the most action in the afternoon. We are finding the best action in 19'-25'. Pink and gold jigs or just a plain hook with split shots tipped with a chub has worked well. Jigging is the best technique." - Sportman's Lodges, Jacki LaValla
(12/18) A quick note from Bill Powell at Fred's Bait in Deer River; "After hearing some good reports coming in about the Walleye fishing on Lake Winnie, we made that our destination on Sunday. The mid lake humps were home to some anglers already and there were already half dozen ... Click here to read the >> Fred's Bait Fishing Report .
(12/18) On The Iron Range, From Greg Clusiau; "The recent rainfall, last Saturday, didn’t helps matters. There is now a lot of wet slushy areas to contend with and I hope we don’t receive any significant snowfall or we’ll be in trouble.
The walleye fishing was slow but we did manage to ice a couple nice fish, being 18” and 20”. However, due to the slot limit on this particular body of water, they both had to go back but that’s okay. It’s always nice just to" ... >> Read Greg's Full Report .
Fishing Report December 17, 2012 Jeff Sundin - It's kind of interesting how easy it is to miss out on the small details. Like the when I talked with the guys that I'll be fishing with today about how to prepare for today's trip. That's when I found out that even though they only live 150 miles South, they never realized that we'd just had a heavy snowfall. Somehow, that little bit of news missed the Twin Cities stations.
I wouldn't even mention it at all, except that's why I get up in the wee hours and write this stuff down. So people will know what's going on. Especially people who are planning a trip to go fishing and that goes double for folks who are planning to fish with me. So please tune in and read the reports, that's what they're for, to help keep you informed.
I did manage to make it out for a tour on Sunday. What I found were fairly good roads, mostly plowed, but there were some that still hadn't been plowed. I wouldn't have wanted to drive on the back roads in a car, but I didn't see any spots where a 4 wheel drive pickup or SUV wouldn't get through.
I was clinging to a little bit of information that I'd gotten from a fishing buddy; Good news about a Crappie hole that had recently produced good fishing. I thought that just maybe I'd check that out and maybe even wet a line. When I got there, the crowd was already too big form me and when I couldn't find a parking spot, I decided that I'm better off waiting until this morning to get my fix of fishing.
What it did prove though, is that the ice conditions are still good in areas where the ice was well established before the snow storm. Be careful though, that's not the case on every lake. I took detour on my home and checked out Deer Lake because I knew that it had just barely frozen over before the snow. Sure enough, the ice held, but it was clear that numerous cracks had opened up under the weight of the snow. Now the surface of the lake is Grey and probably contains some slushy spots. I'd be suspicious about every single deep water lake right now, because most of them are probably in the same condition.
One more bit of good news, the weight of the snow didn't seem as heavy or wet as I thought it would be. After plowing some really wet stuff around the farm, I was afraid that it was like that all over the area. Instead, I found a lot of White, fluffy snow that was about five inches deep, but fairly easy to walk in.
Fishing Report December 16, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Well, I'm not too sure where we're at just now. After a day that started with freezing rain, then turned to snow and slush, it looks like we'll all be digging out from under the snow piles this morning.
The wet, heavy snow came down slow and steady all day long on Saturday and it reminded me of those days where we get to walk in a lot of slush on the lakes. I hope that most of the area lakes were already frozen long enough to form strong ice sheets that will hold up the extra weight. But judging by what I've already seen in my own back yard, there are definitely gonna be some lakes that move a few steps backward in terms of ice quality. The good news; Lakes to our South, that weren't frozen yet, received more rain than snow and are going to freeze in and be fine, escaping the worst of this heavy snow.
I have a real mess on my hands right now, as my already storm damaged barn, collapsed from the weight of the snow.
Fishing Report December 15, 2012 Jeff Sundin - A trip to a tiny new lake, yields a few big surprises!
On Friday, I mentioned heading to a new lake to try and find some Bluegills. According to the DNR, there's no evidence that the lake has ever been visited, no survey, no lake map and no stocking reports. Of course we know that the small lake has been visited, how can there be one anywhere that hasn't been? But it was still fun to count ourselves as part of a pretty darn small group of visiting anglers.
For me, the first treat was discovering some decent water in the lake. Driving past, it would be real easy to get the idea that there wasn't much in there. Just Wild Rice and weeds, in fact I was afraid that this was going to be one of those episodes where the auger blades went from ice, into mud without first slipping into some fresh, clean water. Luckily, we found a little hole that dropped into about 15 feet. Not deep, but good enough to support a population of fish.
Logic told us to explore the deep water first; But this time, logic was wrong and the real location of almost everything we caught was much shallower. A range of 6 to 12 feet was the fish catching zone, with a heavy emphasis on 6 to 9 feet. It took a while to get the first bite, but once I finally got into shallow enough water, the action became more dependable, sporadic but dependable.
I wish I could tell you that we struck it rich and hit the giant panfish spot of a lifetime, but we didn't. Instead we found a really pretty little lake that has a little bit of everything. We caught some Sunfish, some Perch a Crappie, a couple of small Pike and a lot of Bass! The Largemouth is definitely the king of this little puddle and Bass ranging in size from a few ounces, up to five pounds were the highlight of the trip. In fact, there were a lot of small Bass and I used a couple of small ones to help round out the larder for Grandma's fish fry. Guess what? They were really sweet and tasty!
I didn't have to do much experimenting with baits. I still had the 1/8 ounce Red/Glow Frostee Spoon tied on from the day before, so I jammed a few Wax Worms on to the treble hook and started fishing. for this trip, that one bait could do no wrong. Everything I caught, fell victim to that bait.
Fishing Report December 14, 2012 Jeff Sundin - If you were following the fishing reports last fall, then you already know that I've been on a mission to find new (to me) places to catch panfish. As much as I love to fish for Crappies and Sunfish, I do realize how vulnerable they are to over harvest. Especially in lakes where abundance is low and size structures are good.
For me, I'd rather know 30 good places to fish and visit each of them a time or two, than to know 3 or 4 places and visit them each a dozen times. I don't mean to preach, that's just my way of looking at it. I like looking forward, toward a brighter future, I'm an optimist.
I did the same thing last winter and even doing a lot of research ahead of time, we discovered that only about 1 out of 3 lakes actually turned out to be worth the trouble, but every so often, we stumbled into a gem. The reasons for the low success are varied and I'll expand on some of them in the coming days; But even if you only discover one lake or maybe two each winter, it would be well worth the effort.
On Thursday, after I cleaned up a little bit of paperwork in the office, I started doing some research. Pouring over maps, looking for lakes that seemed interesting, then doing my best to figure out if they were worth a visit or not. While I was doing my homework, my fishing buddy called me up and he mentioned a lake that he had gotten interested in. Sitting right under everyone's nose, the tiny little lake seems to totally off of the radar. No DNR reports, no lake survey's, no map, no nothing. Hmm... sounds perfect, if there's anything in there! Someplace along the line, someone mentioned it to him, they said that it was worth a visit and gluttons for punishment, we are just the guys to go over there and give it a whirl.
In the meantime, there are 3 or 4 other lakes that made the short list, so if our first try turns out to be a dud, we'll still have time to high tail it toward another one.
Fishing Report December 13, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Relief from the deep freeze and an up-tick in the panfish action.
After our fishing trip on Tuesday, we had the feeling that there was relief just around the corner; That is for case of lockjaw that panfish were suffering. It seemed like toward the end of the day, fish were getting more interested and so with renewed enthusiasm, we scheduled a re-match for Wednesday morning.
We hurried to the lake and made our way out to the last spot we'd fished on Tuesday. No sooner than getting some holes drilled and dropping in my Frostee Spoon, did I have my first Bluegill. I watched the flasher and saw the fish swim up to the bait, pause and strike. Oooh... it looked like we'd made a good decision.
For a while, the action was good, but even with an up-tick in the amount of strikes, we were still struggling to find fish of larger sizes. The small Sunfish and Crappies were more aggressive, but larger examples were still tough to come by. The weather and ice conditions has been changing so fast lately, that it's impossible to pin down the exact reason, but no matter how you look at it, we're far from enjoying a "hot bite" at the moment.
If we discovered anything about the Prescription for curing their Aches and Pains, it was to present baits that were larger than we'd usually use. For me, the 1/8 ounce Frostee Spoon, tipped with 3 or 4 Wax Worms did the trick. For one of my fishing partners, the Whatsit Jig, Tipped with a couple of Wax Worms was working an for the other, well he was trying every bait in the arsenal, but agreed that the larger sizes were working the best. The larger baits had a better track record in terms of triggering better size fish to strike. The smaller baits were examined by the same fish, but something about the small size didn't appeal to them.
Ice conditions have remained good, and ice thickness now ranges from 4 inches on deep water lakes, to upwards of a foot in shallow bays and shallow water lakes. As of Wednesday afternoon, I was seeing something new; Ice fishermen on the ice. I had been accustomed to seeing lakes that hadn't yet been walked on. But now anglers are getting the idea and showing up in the popular spots. I'd guess that the upcoming weekend will be busy as the first wave of anglers show up for what we'll call "Opening Weekend" of the 2013 ice fishing season.
Fishing Report December 12, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Holy Ice Cream Pail! Talk about a chilly day on the lake. I don't want to be pointing any frozen fingers at anyone. But I wonder why every time I share stories of past experiences with these guys, they go something like; "Yeah, but this isn't as cold as the time that we ...... " There are a few of my outer parts that have a little sting from too much exposure to the cold wind. Luckily nothing serious, but today, there's gonna be a little extra warm gear packed along in the sled.
Judging by today's forecast, we might just get a little break today. Only in Northern Minnesota, could temps in the mid 20 degree range sound like a warm up. But after spending a couple of days with everything freezing up, I'd take 20 degrees as a chance to throw on the shorts and t-shirt for a while.
On Tuesday, the ice conditions were better on one of the lakes we fished, but unchanged on the other. It's getting tempting to think about using the ATV, but for now, we're still hoofing it and don't plan to drive anything on the ice before the weekend.
Fishing was still tough for us, but the fish were showing signs of getting a little better appetite again. We saw lots of fish on our flashers, spent lots of time moving from spot to spot and in the end, caught just enough fish to declare a victory. In fact, by the end of the day, things looked promising enough to make a decision to sign up for a re-match today.
A mixed bag of Sunfish and Crappies, leaning heavily toward the Sunfish, hit on small jigging lures tipped with Wax Worms. Early in the day, Lindy's Toad in the White (Glow) color was probably the most reliable. But later in the day, I had a good run using a much larger, Frosty Spoon, Glow Red, with each of the treble hooks covered in Waxies. Even tiny fish were eating the 1/8 ounce size bait and that's one reason we're gonna try again today.
- Electronics on Ice - A Better Mouse Trap? The Start of a new era - Jeff Sundin; "I don't remember ever thinking that I'd grow up to be one of those guys telling stories about the “old days” of fishing. But here I am, getting ready to tell a story about one of the differences between “the old days” and the really good, “new days”!
Last year, during the 2011 ice fishing season, I made another move, but this time, I wasn't kicking and screaming, this time, there was a huge smile on my face.
For the first time, I left my flasher at home. Oh don't worry, I didn't go fishing blind, I just had a better mouse trap. This time I Read Jeff's Article >> A Better Mouse trap For Ice Fishing .
(12/12) Bemidji Lakes Area, Paul A. Nelson, Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service says; "The Bemidji area missed the first major snow storm of the season, so the cold weather this past week has really helped firm up the local ice conditions.
Upper Red Lake has been red hot for walleyes, with many anglers catching fish on the shoreline break in 7 to 9 feet of water. The breakline is closer to shore on the south end of Upper Red Lake, so most anglers have been fishing out of the accesses on the south end of the lake.
The ice conditions are good, with 8 to 12 inches of ice in most areas. Anglers have been accessing the lake with ATV’s, but if the weather stays cold this week, there could be vehicles driving on the big lake by this weekend.
Many anglers like to fish with a jigging spoon for walleyes, with the Northland Buckshot Rattle Spoon one of the most popular choices because it brings sound and vibration to the jigging motion of the lure, which helps walleyes target the lure in the stained water.
Anglers are allowed to fish two lines in Minnesota during the winter, so many anglers jig aggressively with one line and put down a dead stick with a bobber for the second line, to help catch the less aggressive fish brought in by the jigging lure.
Tipping the spoons with a minnow head or half a minnow helps add scent to the presentation, and gives short-hitting walleyes less of a chance to miss the hook when they hit the minnow.
Other lakes in the Bemidji area have also been adding ice, with most lake having more than four inches of ice and ready for anglers to walk on the ice. Anglers should still take precautions and check the ice conditions personally before going on the ice, especially in new areas with no safe path established out to their fishing spot." - Paul A. Nelson, Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service, email@example.com 218.759.2235
Fishing Report December 11, 2012 Jeff Sundin - This morning, I'm gonna skimp on the report a little bit. It's easy to do, because not much happened yesterday.
Whether is was the cold snap that hit the area, the bright sunny skies, or just one of those tough days, the fish were dis-interested in most everything that I tried to do for them. Toward the end of the day, a school of small fish came along and gave me a pat on the back for sticking with it. But, all were way too small, I released the little tykes unharmed and all of them are gonna be safe from me for the next couple of years.
Temps are just a touch warmer this morning and the skies are predicted to be overcast. It could be just what the doctor ordered. Sooner or later, they're gonna get hungry and today would be a really fine time for that to happen!
(12/11) From Lake Winnibigoshish; Pat Rooney at Denny's Resort has a word of caution for ice fishermen; "The area just west of little stony and westward towards Judds to the River Bar and up to just south of Sugar Bay we had open water about 100 yards wide as of the 8th. I recomend that anglers do not use Richards Townsite yet, as the ice sheet just froze over. Shore ice is over 7 so it is decieving. Good fishing to you. - Pat Rooney, Denny's Resort.
(12/11) From Lake Winnibigoshish; Reed Ylitalo had a Lake Winnie ice update; "I was out of the south end and traveled out about 2 and a half miles. Ice was great solid black ice 7 to 9 inches Four wheelers are traveling pulling Portable ice houses. I fished today in 28 up to 22 FOW on the edge of structure did well on perch and walleyes. Best bait was a jigging spoon made by Northland tackle. Tip with the head of a golden shiner and the best bite was when i was jigging aggressively!" - Reed Ylitalo .
(12/11) From Lake Winnibigoshish; The third river flowage of Lake Winnie is hot this season. We had a few ups and downs with this goofy weather, but I think now its here to stay. There is 8inches or better of ice out there with about an inch or so of snow. Water clearity is great straight out, clowdy the farther down you go.
Dec. 7th, 8th and 9th. Had more fishes houses out there then we have ever seen, and thus so a lot of nice northerns were brought in. Biggest yet is the 15.9. a couple 13lbers one of these on video. A lot in the 10lb range. They are getting a few nice sized perch and even seeing some walleyes. Have fun be safe.- Dixon Lake Resort.
Fishing Report December 10, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Every season, it seems like I need a day or two just to get everything organized and working the way it's supposed to. This winter, I'm right on track, in fact it might be a little worse than usual.
I and my friend Chad Haatvedt made our way to a small lake on Sunday. All of our gear seemed to be in order and we thought that we were ready to go. Batteries were charged, fresh gas in the auger and a good supply of bait. No reason to doubt that we'd have a great time, as soon as we found a few fish to pick on.
We spent the lion's share of our time concerning ourselves with the question of whether or not the ice was thick enough to hold us up. Walking slowly at first, chiseling an occasional test hole just to be sure we weren't heading for a trap. The further we went, the more confident we got; Four to five inches of ice, consistently, all along the path from shore out to the lakes main deep water basin.
Once we were over the deep water, the plan was to walk around with the flasher, shooting the sonar signal through the ice to locate a school of fish before we started fishing. Okay, so I grabbed my flasher, turned it on and nothing happened. That's weird, I just used it a couple of days ago and it worked fine. I had the battery charging all night long, but dead is dead and this one was DEAD! Luckily, we still had Chad's flasher, so off we went, looking for the school of fish. There they were, 26 feet of water, about four feet above the bottom, it was time to get started.
I grabbed the auger, turned on the switch, put on the choke and pulled the cord. I said, I pulled the cord, again and again and.... That's weird, I just ran it a couple of days ago and it worked fine. Plenty of brand new fresh gas, no suing of damage, but dead is dead and this one was DEAD! Luckily, we still had Chad's chisel, so we chiseled ourselves a couple of holes, side by side, so we could share the flasher.
Things were looking up; We had holes in the ice, fish underneath us and lines in the water. It was almost like clockwork; I said there they are, here comes one, following me up, he took the bait and there ya go! One Crappie, the first one of my 2012/13 ice fishing season laying on the ice. I hurried up and got my Glow Red Colored Toad back into the water. This time it took a bit more effort, but another one grabbed the bait and then one more. Three Crappies in the pail and it's not even lunch time. Then it was over. Without any more bites in this spot, we wandered around, found a few more fish and chiseled a new hole, none of these fish were fooled by our offerings.
By now, I figured out that we were gonna need to get more efficient; So I hoofed it back to the truck to grab my spare battery and spare spark plug. Yes! I had spares, so I walked a half mile across the ice to get them. By the time I returned, Chad had rearranged the system, tried a couple of new positions, but still nothing. Don't worry, lets just get some of this stuff working. New battery in the flasher, DEAD! New spark plug in the auger, DEAD! Hmm.. that didn't help our attitudes too much and by now, the wind was drifting snow into the holes, freezing 'em up and making life a little chilly out there. Faced with the prospect of walking even more, cutting holes by hand and sharing a single flasher, we both sort of decided that it would be okay to head home and work on our little computer project instead.
So, five hours later, Chad had helped put a good dent in my supply of brain cells. By 8:00 PM I had learned the fundamentals of PHP scripting and even applied some of that rudimentary knowledge to the very website you're reading right now. Some day, you might even take advantage of it to get in touch with me, at least I hope so!
(12/10) Ryan Peterson checked in from Lake Winnibigoshish; "As of Friday, we are finding 6 to 8 inches of ice out to the breakline in 28 feet of water. Moving out from there, I did check ice conditions all of the way out to the island, east of the bars. On that trip, I f ound nothing less then 6 inches of ice, but I must say there where a couple of trouble spots that I went around.As of Friday I would not want to hit them with a ATV or snowmobile.
After tonight's cold blast, I think most of the cracks I've seen and avoided should be healed up and we will be ok to take ATVs or snowmobiles to most places.
Denny's Resort is letting ATVs and snowmobiles out on the ice, but he is asking everyone to stay within reason, (to the first or second break line out in front of the resort) Be sure to check in at the lodge to get a full report before heading out as things can change. I will be on the lake Monday and will have a full report for Tuesday morning. I still have openings for sleeper rentals come get in on some of the great ice fishing Lake Winnie has to offer.
(12/10) Gus Sheker, Gus' Place Resort on Ball Club Lake; "Spearing and Angling on Ball Club lake is underway on the South end of the lake for fishermen who are will to walk out.
Fishermen are testing the rim of the lake in other areas, but the deep middle of the lake still has areas of open water. Extreme caution should be used at least for another week till the ice is thick enough for ATVs.
This coming week has needed colder temps forecasted.
This winter Gus' Place Resort will be offering discounts on fishing packages for Cabins, Day Houses, Dark Houses and Sleepers; Day Guide Services are also available. Call us free 1-888-246-8520.
I always share GPS info with my customers." - Gus Sheker. Gus' Place Report .
(12/10) On Bowstring Lake, Bowstring Shores Resort, Marjean Oelke says; "Darv went out and checked the ice when we got home. 6-8 inches of ice, 2-3 inches of snow on the ice, only checked about 100 yards out in front of the resort, did not check the remainder of the lake at this time. He went out with a six wheeler. Haven't talked to anyone that has been out fishing. We have so me guys coming up later this week, we'll keep you posted on the ice conditions etc. Darv Oelke - Bowstring Shores Resort
(12/10) On Upper Red Lake, Chad Benson wrote; "The walleye action on Upper Red has been very good for myself and many others the past few days. I have been targeting the 7 ½ to 8ft range and catching plenty of walleyes. I know guys who are deeper and catching fish also. The traffic on the ice Saturday seemed to slow the bite down some or maybe it was the cold front and low pressure moving in??? People still caught fish but not the numbers I was seeing before the weekend. Most of the walleyes are in the 15-18 inch range with a few bigger fish thrown in. Best colors lately have been Red Glow anything and also Gold has been working well. I’m sure other colors have been working also, just haven’t had a need to try anything else yet.
Ice conditions are very good and driving out with ½ ton vehicles is getting close. I wouldn’t doubt by next weekend some operators will be allowing ½ ton and lighter vehicles out. Today I found anywhere from 9-14 inches of ice where I was running around.
The pike bite has been pretty good as well on Upper Red. Nobody has really been targeting them, but they seem to like the walleye fishermens bait. There seems to be a plentiful supply of 3-5 lb fish cruising around. I wouldn’t doubt with bigger bait a person would hook into some bigger fish.
Good Luck to everyone & be careful out there!"- Chad's Red Lake Rentals
Fishing Report December 9, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Okay, so you've been thinking about getting somebody you love a really, really cool Christmas Gift. Think about clicking here to buy a Guided Fishing Trip .
On Saturday, the head scratching stopped and Ice fishermen in the Deer River area tested their favorite lakes for the first time. Ice shelters that had been patiently waiting along the shoreline, were finally deployed and I spotted anglers hoofing it to more than one of the regions popular panfish spots.
I'm getting some mixed reports about the larger lakes, I made a stop at the Winnie Dam, overlooking Tamarack Bay on Winnibigoshish. There are a dozen or so dark houses positioned allong the weeds, South of the river channel. As far as I could see, there were no hosues further out, toward Tamarack Point. But I talked with Bill Powell in the morning and he said that they had recently fished out there. They walked out to the river channel where he said that they'd found 5 to 6 inches of good ice. Probably enough to use an ATV, but not wanting to take any risks, they hoofed it instead.
I got a second hand report that there are some ice houses getting put out on the West side of Lake Winnie too. It's not that I doubt the accuracy of the report, but I will double check to confirm that this morning.
According to Bryan Harris at Eagle Nest Lodge, Cutfoot Sioux finally froze over just a couple of nights ago. It's not safe to head out there yet, but the process wopn't take long now that it's iced up.
Anglers that I talked to on Jessie Lake, also reported 5 to 6 inches of clear ice. In fact, there was a group heading out from the landing when I arrived. The had one of the larger ATV's, loaded with gear and on the ice. They were talking it over, trying to decide whether to drive it out there or not. In the end, they moved it along the shoreline and then walked out from there. Probably smart, but it didn't look like they had much trouble moving it doiwn the shoreline.
I drove a route that took me West of Deer River, then North to Hwy 4, then East to Hwy 6 and back South to Deer River. Each stop along the way, revealed another small lake ready for a visit. Some of them already had anglers on the ice and others, had fish shelters and other gear stationed along the shoreline, waiting to be put into action.
The ice is going to be a little Whiter today, snowfall of an inch, maybe two, accumulated during the night. Another 2 to 4 may fall during the day today. That's not too dramatic, but it might be enough to confuse folks about what lies under the snow. I've looked at a couple of dozen lakes over the past few days, most of the shallower, smaller lakes have had good ice for walking. For now, the best rule of thumb is to avoid lakes with current and deep water lakes. Especially with the snow cover, these are still a little too risky for me and besides, when you're walking, who wants to drag a sled a half mile between fishing spots? Stick with the small stuff and you'll be okay this week.
For today, I and my fishing pal Chad Haatvedt are going to wet a line on a lake or two. We're hoping to find Crappies, but I'm guessing that we'll settle on just about anything that swims.
Fishing Report December 8, 2012 Jeff Sundin - The ice was singing on Friday! No matter which lake I stopped at, I could hear the sounds of ice making. If you've never heard it, you owe it to yourself to find a spot, especially like the ones I found yesterday. In the middle of nowhere, nobody else around and except for a makeshift table and some odd carvings in a tree, no evidence that anyone has ever been there.
There were a couple of lakes that provided me a solid platform of ice and I finally enjoyed my first really extended walk across a lake. The first one, I walked all the way across the main basin. I had the sled, auger and enough gear to make a trip out of it. But, as I strolled around checking the deeper water with my flasher, I never really spotted a school of fish that interested me enough to make me stop and drill a hole. Truthfully, I think I was happy enough just to be out there, taking in the sights.
By the time I arrived at the second lake, it was already sunset, so I didn't even bring the sled along. I did take a nice walk out there though, maybe a quarter mile. Happily, I did not have the chance to test the float-ability of my Arctic Armor suit. In fact, I was surprised by how solid the ice was, especially since I had recently talked to a friend who said that there was only an inch or two of ice on this lake. That was only a few days ago, so apparently the cold snap has gotten a firm hold of the lakes that were already frozen.
Larger lakes have fallen behind though. The huge winds that blew through a few days ago really upset the ice sheet on Lake Winnie. The shallow bays are holding their own, but the mid-lake ice has become jagged and riddled with wide cracks an open spots. It's going to be a while before anglers find their way to the mid-lake structures, especially if we get the snowfall they're predicting for later today.
Okay listen, you know that it would be really stupid of me to tell you that it's okay to go out on thin ice today. So don't go out there unless you've done your homework!
I will tell you that I've found enough lake, with ice thick enough to satisfy me and that I am going to venture out on a couple of them. Keep in mind, I am wearing a float suit AND I have looked at a dozen or more lakes before I settled on a couple that make me feel confident. So when you start seeing some pictures, remember that a lot of care has been taken before I ventured out. Do me a favor, have fun, but be careful.
Today, I'm going to drill a few holes, maybe even catch a fish. Then I'm gonna visit the farm, cut myself a Christmas Tree and after that, try to coax Mr. Big out of that swamp! Let's see, out in the woods from sunrise, to sunset; Hmm .... Yes, that should just about cover it! :)!!
(12/8) Sight Trolling’ With 360 Imaging - Humminbird 360 Imaging Changes The Rules Of The Trolling Game … Forever!
Eufaula, AL. (December 6, 2012) - Not since the introduction of planer boards have the rules of the trolling game changed this much. It’s a bold statement, but Humminbird’s 360 Imaging literally changes the course of trolling for every angler on the planet.
Now, for the first time ever, anglers have the ability to see a full 360 degrees around the boat, 150 feet in each direction. Not only is it easy to identify fish-holding structure, 360 Imaging reveals any fish and forage activity within an area up to 1.6 acres.
Not only that, it’s all in real time, meaning you can actually follow moving bait balls and the ravenous predators that pursue them. Roving fish reveal themselves as targets, like bogeys on a tactical radar screen. Thusly, boat bearing can be changed accordingly and trolled lures placed directly in the fish’s path.
Humminbird’s Bill Carson says, "I no longer have to watch the birds to stay on fish, such as stripers, salmon, bass or walleyes. 360 Imaging is like having sonar on your planer boards.”
Simply estimate the distance between your boards and the boat. Say each one is 75 feet off either side, giving you a 150-foot swath. Set 360 Imaging to scan 75 to 100 feet on either side of the boat and in front. Using the circular grids on the display, accurately gauge fish position relative to the trolled lures. No fish goes unseen or undetected.
Couple 360 Imaging with 2-D sonar on a separate sonar window to not only gauge fish position relative to the boat (i.e. at 2 o'clock, 4 o’clock, etc.), but also use 2-D sonar to reveal the depth of fish, so you can dial in the trolling depth of lures.
As you approach individual fish, you can slow and accelerate the boat speed, which changes lure action and triggers more bites. As the user gets more experience with 360 Imaging it actually becomes possible to predict when bites will occur. For Humminbird’s Bill Carson, it’s sometimes seconds, and he says other anglers will quickly gain this kind of intuition when they start fishing with 360 Imaging.
Friends, the days of trolling blind are over. With 360 Imaging trolling becomes spot and stalk hunting … like sight fishing in depths nearing Jules Verne proportions. Hence, what fishing writer Cory Schmidt calls “Sight Trolling.”
All this equates to eliminating dead water fast and keeping baits in the money zone. The result? More walleyes, more salmon, more stripers, insert-your-favorite-fish-here. If you can troll for ‘em, 360 Imaging will find ‘em. And help you keep your baits where they belong … in front of their faces and stuck in fleshy jaws!
Fishing Report December 7, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Moderating temperatures held ice production at par on Thursday. There wasn't much in the way of new, news; But I did manage to find a couple of spots where the ice was thick enough to support my weight.
The really good news is that the ice, thin as it may be, is solid and clear. A couple of short walks to test it for strength, gave me some confidence that I'd be able to find a fishing spot for the weekend. I have to admit though, walking on 2 to 3 inches of ice, gives me the creeps, even if I don't hear it groaning or cracking under my feet.
I think that I probably could have wet a line on Thursday, but the moderate temperatures and Grey sky had me thinking about Mr. Big and hoping for one last chance to take advantage of the Tursday effect. Well the Thursday effect did kick in, I saw a total of 8 Deer yestereday evening. Too bad for me, there wasn't an antler to be seen, so the smokepole remains unfired for this muzzleloader season. With trhee days left in the season and a lot of ways to divide up that time, it's starting to look like I'll be cooking more Chicken than Venison this winter.
Okay, so you've been thinking about getting yourself something really cool for Christmas. Did you think about clicking here to buy a Guided Fishing Trip?
Fishing Report December 6, 2012 Jeff Sundin - Wednesday was just one of those days that takes a little patience to get through. It started off looking gorgeous, but that gigantic, Red sunrise was just an early warning about the day that lie ahead. Just after daylight, the wind started howling and any ideas I had about spending my day outside, just kept getting shuffled closer to the "maybe tomorrow list".
That's okay though, a guy sometimes needs a day like that, just to help push through the piles of paperwork and other assorted chores that need tending to. In fact, it helped me get a little extra work done and even allowed me to take the 4 Wheeler in for some new tires that were much needed. Now I'm just another step closer to being ready for the main event.
That blast of cold air did help encourage the ice to form though, now even some of the most stubborn, late freezing lakes are getting skimmed over. I looked at Deer Lake yesterday and found that except for some scattered open spots, most of the main bay is now ice-covered. Likewise, shallower portions of Bass Lake, Chase Lake and even Ball Club are getting a sheet of ice.
I stopped at a medium size lake, not far from home and it looked awfully close to being ready for some foot traffic. Honestly, the wind was too blustery for me, so I didn't actually get out and walk on the ice.
For today though, the wind is supposed to calm a bit and I'm gonna schedule a do-over, hoofing it onto any lake I stumble into that looks ready. Later, I'm starting to think that I'll need a miracle to bag a buck, but with 4 more days until the close of the Muzzleloader season, I still have a chance. So I'm gonna keep trying!
(12/6) I bumped into Zach Dagel while I was in town. Zach had been out searching for ice too and said that Trout Lake and Pokegama are freezing up right now. Zack's been doing the same as me, gathering all of the goodies he'll need to get the ice season rolling.
Zack mentioned that he's going to be doing some ice guiding this winter. So we can look forward to getting some updates from him as the season unfolds.
(12/5) Greg Clusiau; Handled the decision the same way most other anxious ice fishermen did. Greg says; "My very first ice fishing trip, of the new hardwater season, turned out to be a good one and there wasn’t too much thinking required in figuring out just where to go.
Wanting to get out on the ice last weekend, I reviewed our options. Hmm, let’s see… we’ve got ... >> Read Greg's Full Report .
Fishing Report December 5, 2012 Jeff Sundin - The ice machine is plugged back in and we're making up for lost time. The recent warm spell moved ice production a couple of steps backward over the weekend. The evidence was hard to avoid on my tour of area lakes this Tuesday afternoon. The overnight temperatures were hovering at zero degrees though, so the ice production is going to speed up again and we'll be out there sooner instead of later.
On Tuesday, I thought that I might be able to make a quick trip onto the ice, drill a few holes and maybe pickup a few panfish, but that idea fell apart when I discovered that except for some of the shallower lakes, almost all of the area's better panfish lakes have at least some open water again. Some of the shallowest ones that had a head start before the arrival of this weekend's warm temperatures, were frozen. In fact I took a short walk onto one lake, but once I got past the outer ring of thick ice and headed toward the deeper center, I could see through the ice and it looked kind of thin for a trip to the middle. Virtually all of the snow has melted and on lakes where ice found good ice, the conditions would have been ideal for an early ice skating session.
Feeding my inhibition about venturing out too far, too fast, were stories from a couple of friends who had tried to find spots themselves this weekend. They were reporting finding ice in the 1 to 2 inch range. Getting close, but not close enough and after thinking it over, they decided not to venture out either.
When I do get around to drilling my first hole, I'll be sure that I have cleats on my boots, without them, it's just a matter of time before I'd wind up flat on my back.
At some point, I'll be back on tour today, looking for a spot or two that I can fish on early ice. Something tells me that you'll know if I figure something out.
Fishing Report December 4, 2012 Jeff Sundin - The drive home from St. Paul on Monday was a lot different than the trip down to the ice show. Ice was disappearing fast from lakes that hadn't been frozen very long before the warm spell arrived. The lakes that had frozen early were holding on to their ice, but a melted sheet of water covered it, making it look like a mirror. I thought about someone who opined the arrival of the snow, saying that it ruined his chance to go ice skating. Well John, it looks like you'll be getting a do-over!
It wasn't until I was almost home that I saw the first traces of snow that hadn't melted. Mostly what I saw was a flashback to early November. Brown Grass, open water and no sign of traffic heading toward the lakes.
That's all gonna change today as the temps drop again and a crisp high of 22 degrees forces that water to firm back up.
(12/4) New ice rods by TFO; I never really think of myself as the brightest bulb on the tree. But luckily, I do seem to have a knack for stumbling into really cool stuff. That's what happened to me back in the mid-80's when I was working at a sport show and stumbled into a guy who owned a small tackle repping business. He's not with us any more, but his name was Jim Speikers and he was selling these Brown fishing rods that no one from around here had ever heard of. There was some guy from out in Washington named Loomis and he was making them. According to Jim, I really needed to use these rods.
Well I signed on with Jim and for the next 25 years, I never had another rod in the boat except for Gary Loomis' creations. That changed though, a few years after Gary sold the business and some big corporation shuffling sort of "de-emphasized" some of Gary's key philosophies. Read Gary's Story Here .
For the past few years, I was sort of stumbling around, looking for something special, something new, something I could believe in. That's when I stumbled into the Temple Fork Outfitter guys and saw the line up of rods that they were producing. You remember, I wrote about 'em last spring from the Minneapolis Sport Show. They're the new rods that were designed by Gary Loomis. That's right, Mr. Graphite himself! Now he's designing more great rods, but this time for TFO, a rod company known for flyrods, but now branching out into great quality, but affordable spinning and casting rods.
But hold on a second, we used to try talking him (Loomis) into making and ice rod. You know, something nice for the guys who wanted an above average ice fishing experience. Well Loomis never did come out with an ice rod and I figured that TFO wouldn't have one either. In fact, I had looked on their website and not seen them at all.
I had been walking around the ice show, looking for some rods to bring home. So after two days of looking at what I thought was everything, I had my mind made up. I was all set to buy something else and I sauntered into Reeds Sporting Goods to pick them up. That's when I noticed the TFO Ice Rods hanging on the wall. YES! TFO is producing a line of ice rods, all lifetime guarantee and all designed by Gary Loomis and all priced at about $40. How can ya beat that?
After taking a good close look and sizing up the actions, I settled on a couple of ultra lights for panfish and a couple more mediums for walleye and Perch. I'm telling you, these things are lighter than air and even though I haven't even caught my first fish on any of them, I just know that I'm going to love them, I can just tell.
Okay, so I'm sure that you'll be hearing more about the TFOs, especially after I get mine out on the ice, but why wait, check them out right now. If you're like me, a Gary Loomis fan; Then I think you'll understand, it's just really nice to use something you believe in. It makes fishing more fun! See TFO Rods Lineup Here .
Fishing Report December 3, 2012 Jeff Sundin - That's a wrap! The Ice Show finished strong on Sunday with a last minute flurry of ice fishermen lining up at the cash registers. They were stocking up on all of the latest do-dads. As it happens, I was was standing there too. Because I stumbled into a great
bargain on some things that I really, really needed. Now I'm kind of excited to tell you about the ice rods I got, but since I'm on the road early this morning, I'm gonna have to put it off until Tuesday.
Ya know; I'm at the door step of 30 years in the fishing business, I have worked at a lot of sport shows and some have been easier than others. Don't let it slip out, but just between us guys, this one was actually fun! I already know that I'll be down there again in 2013, so you may as well mark your calendar right now. See you there!
Fishing Report December 2, 2012 Jeff Sundin - St. Paul's River Center was hopping on Saturday as the 20th annual Ice Fishing Show breezed through day 2 with another packed house. For the show, timing couldn't be more perfect. There's almost enough ice to get out and fish, but not quite and anxious anglers from around the state are dropping by to get stocked up in time for their early ice adventures.
A steady flow of folks dropping by the Lindy Booth kept us busy, sometimes swamped for most of the day and it was definitely a shopping crowd. I spied lots of cool stuff leaving the show, carried in five gallon pails that visitors picked up for free at some of the vendor booths.
I expect to see another buying crowd today as the show closes. In fact, I know that I'll be in the buying mood and I'm gonna show up a little bit early just to be sure that I get in on some of the deals that I've been sniffing out. I'd be happy to share some ideas, just drop by the Lindy booth today and look me up. I'll spill all of the secrets, that is, just as soon as I have my own supplies laid in for the winter!
(12/2) Upper Red Lake - There was a buzz in the room about ice fishing on Saturday too. Most of the chatter was about anglers who have already paId their first visit to Upper Red Lake. They've been rushing to get in on the early Walleye fishing. There were a bunch of people at the show who had already been there, all of them reported having good Walleye action, mainly on the South and East sides of the lake.
Things on the North end have been slower to develop, mainly because the better fishing areas are further from the shoreline. But, a text from Bill Powell made note of one outfitter who was spotted on the lake, putting out shelters, using his pickup truck. Now don't go driving out there just because he did, but watch for conditions to develop fast up there. One more cold snap and the traffic is going to start getting heavy.
Reports about ice thicknesses varied, but the most reliable information came from my friend Chad Benson, who runs a fishing shelter rental operation on the South side of Red Lake.
Chad had been out on the ice on Friday, marking trails for the roads that he'll be plowing when the snow begins to pile up. Chad said that areas of new, clear ice are 6 to 7 inches thick and he added that on the South side, he hadn't found any ice thinner than 6 inches. Areas of ice that had already frozen earlier, were broken up and re-frozen, are as thick as 10 inches already.
Shallow lakes in the Northern and Northwestern corners of the state are getting early traffic from panfish anglers too. You're not going to believe this, but it's true; I talked with a friend who has already been ice fishing 8 times this season. For him, the ice season started on Thanksgiving weekend when they headed to some of the smaller lakes located near the Canadian border.
It wouldn't be cool for me to get too specific, but they had some very good Bluegill fishing and by the time we were done talking, I found myself sizing up our display of Bugs and Toads. It wouldn't suprize me at all to spot myself on a panfish lake this week.
Fishing Report December 1, 2012 Jeff Sundin - The St. Paul Ice Fishing Show Opened on Friday and I was on the show floor along with a record number of vendors, to help greet a robust crowd.
You'd expect to hear a lot about all of the new gadgets and gizmos, so okay, guess what? Surrounded by the latest electronics, the coziest fishing shelters and slickest power augers, a lot of the buzz about cool new stuff was coming right from our own booth.
Lindy's new Foo Flyer made a big splash, right from the moment that Jon Thelen set one into the demo tank and immediately used it to mesmerize the first dozen visitors that walked toward the booth. After that, Ted Takasaki, Jonny Petrowske and even I, your humble "Cub Reporter", took turns warming the crowd up to our new baits. Before the day was finished, they were all gone, sold out from every retailer that carried them into the show. Don't worry though, something tells me that there will be a new supply today. See Lindy's Foo Flyers Here .
Looking for comfortable places to fish this winter? Then it's going to be hard to walk through this show without getting your head turned by the arsenal of ice fishing shelters. Everything from one man, flip over portables, to your very own, "home away from home" complete with kitchen, bathroom and bunk beds. Oh yea, I think there's a place to fish somewhere in there too. Maybe I better take a closer look today, just to be sure.
Ice Reports are coming in from all around the Deer River area and points North. But not so much, at least not yet from the mid-section of the state. On the way down to St. Paul on Friday, MilleLacs Lake was still wide open, except for some chunks of ice being blown into the shoreline.
Small lakes South of MilleLacs, all the way down to St. Paul are freezing, but most of them have only a thin, shiny layer of skim ice, threatened by a prediction of super warm temperatures heading this way early next week.
On Upper Red Lake, the South and East sides have enough ice to attract a crowd and there are already plenty of anglers heading that way. Jonny Petrowske works the area around Washkish and says that the ice is a little behind on that side of the, but he plans to start working his way up the North shore early this week.
Lake Winnibigoshish isn't quite ready for full scale action, except for the Third River Flowage, where Dixon Lake Resort already has rental house on the ice.
If you're thinking of venturing out this weekend, be doubly reminded of the addage; No ice is safe. Take precautions, bring a friend and be careful! And ... have a great time!
(11/28) New Site Answers Anglers’ Digital GPS Mapping Questions and More. LakeMaster’s redesigned site puts anglers in the know.
A release from Little Falls, MN. (November 26, 2012) – "LakeMaster recently revamped their website to give anglers a no-nonsense, easy-to-understand way to harness the awesome power of LakeMaster mapping products in conjunction with Humminbird sonar and GPS – before hitting the water – or from the water via smartphone, if need be.
Newly redesigned, LakeMaster’s site is an interactive user-friendly space featuring a "Technology" section jam-packed with the detailed information on using the fishing industry’s most innovative mapping and GPS features such as Depth Highlight, Water Level Offset, Shallow Water Highlight and more.
“We want LakeMaster users to get the very most out of our mapping products. Our goal is to make sure we answer every customer’s questions and ensure they understand how to use the powerful feature set that comes with the purchase of a LakeMaster card or our new Contour Elite software,” says LakeMaster Brand Manager Dale Logue.
The newly improved site also makes it easier for anglers to find the lake mapping information they need, from finding which SD card holds specific lakes, rivers and reservoirs, to figuring out if those off-the-grid bodies of water have been plotted yet. Most likely, LakeMaster’s already done it, many in high-definition (HD). There’s even a section for anglers to request future mapping of little-known waterways yet to be charted.
LakeMaster’s videos, "Photo Gallery" and "FAQ" sections will answer questions anglers didn’t even know they had, as well offer support for common concerns. The new site also features additional information about their Contour Elite fishing software – for virtual mapping of your next fishing excursion on your home computer before the trip becomes reality.
|And ... did you know that Jeff's Thursday Morning Program is available for two weeks after the air date? Yes, you'll never need to miss the show. Click the image and then select the 6:00 hour on Thursday. Scroll in to about 6:20 AM and you're in business!|