Ice Fishing Report January 13, 2011 Ice Fishing : Ice fishing reports are coming in slow the past couple of days, mainly because a lot of folks have chosen not to fight the snow conditions. I've heard more than a little moaning and groaning about not being able to get around on the lakes. But, thanks to the resorters and rental operators that have been working hard to keep roads open, there are still some great opportunities.
Throughout the week, Upper Red Lake keeps popping up as the closest thing we have to a local "hotspot". All of the rental operators are plowing like crazy up there and there are now at least two roads heading out into the center bar area. Walleye action out there has been good and so far, every one of the rental operators are reporting that their customers are catching fish, some more than others, but everyone getting some. In case you don't find your way out into the middle, some of the fish are still coming from the shallow breaklines too, 6 to 8 feet of water has produced fish
all week long.
The road system on Cass Lake has really improved and according to Froggy's, Perch action has been slow, but steady with most anglers catching 10 to 15 nice size fish each day. Best depths for Perch have been 16 feet or shallower.
On Lake Winnie, anglers that are fishing on the main shoreline breaks have found the action slow. There are some "slot fish" coming in, but not many eater size fish lately. Fishing along the drop off edges on the main (Bena Bar), has been better. Out there you can put together a mixed bag of Walleye, Perch and a few Northern Pike. The Walleye and Pike are on the edges in 18 to 24 of water. Perch have been on the flats on both shallow and deep sides of the breakline. Drill some holes up on top in 14 to 16 feet and more out deep in 30 plus feet of water. If the fish are finicky, try grandpas old trick, just fish a live minnow on a plain hook and let the bait sit still. Better yet, dead stick in one hole and call them in with a jigging spoon in another one located nearby.
Leech Lake is still producing fish too, locations haven't changed so jump down the page to yesterdays report for more about that.
Hey! I know it's a little confusing trying to work around the conditions and figure out good places to go. But I see so many good folks working overtime to keep anglers in the action that it's made me really encouraged.
If you want to fish, I am positive that there are places to go. If you need some help, let me know and I'll get the information to you.
For me, I have a couple of busy office days ahead of me before I can set my sights on relaxing again. I'm hoping that my weekend is going to include a Lake Trout trip on Saturday and Red Lake Walleyes on Sunday.
Lund Alaskan For Sale. As in the past, I want to throw an offer out there for all of you aspiring boat sales people. Help Jeff Sell The Boat and receive a free guided fishing trip! That's right, refer a buyer for my 2010 Lund 2000 Alaskan and I'll send you a gift certificate for a free Full Day Guided Trip for 2 people. I'll even throw in a shore lunch. See details Lund Alaskan For Sale.
Don't forget, you can always catch additional reports on the radio program too! Listen every Thursday at 6:20 AM. KAXE 91.7 FM Grand Rapids, 105.3 FM Bemidji and 89.9 FM Brainerd.
Ice Access, Winter Lodging and Ice Shelter Rentals (revised 1-12-2011)
Minnesota DNR Round Table Meetings Recapp
Fishing Reports and Advertising Opporunities
Fishing Reports Archive (view past reports)
Video Tulibee Fishing On Lake Winnie January 9, 2011
Advertise Here! Expanded Itasca Area Fishing Reports. Since mid-summer 2010, I've really made an effort to expand my area fishing reports. My goal has been to give anglers who are surfing the web, one fishing report that's always up to date and well written. Now I want to expand the reports section even more and I'd like you to participate. Lodging, Bait & tackle suppliers, guides or any other fishing and hunting related business can find a way to take advantage of the offer. For more information about contributing, sponsoring or advertising. Email Me
On Lake Winnie: Updated on January 12, 2011 Nodak Lodge has a plowed access road open again. They are limiting the traffic to avoid problems with the slush, so access is only allowed for resort guests as of 1-12-2011. This will last for at least another week so avoid this road temporarily. Nodak's offers winter lodging and ice shelter rentals, so if you want to get out on this end of the lake, just rent yourself a spot from them.
Highbanks Resort has new plowed roads open and in really good condition. They have some more new ones developing and about to open in a few days. Highbanks access is open to the public fo a fee of $10.00. Their rental shelters are out and available now as well.
Sunset View Resort on the East side of Tamarack Bay now has their road open all the way out into the center of the bay. They reported that some slushy spots have cropped up, but with the road open again, these will re-freeze fairly fast. The access is open to the public for a landing fee of $10.00. Sunset View also provides winter lodging and ice shelter rentals.
Pat O'Reilly from Northland Lodge checked in to let everyone know that they do have winter lodging available. They also have heated fish cleaning facilities and provide lake access via plowed roads at the Pines and/or Sunset View. They are currently running a stay 4 nights and pay for 3 special.
Denny's Resort, Pat Rooney atsays that their access roads are open and available to the public. They have ice shelter rentals available and also offer winter lodging.
John Seekon from the Pines Resort reports that their roads will be open to the public beginning on December 28, 2010. They have a reasonable lake access fee and also offer ice house rentals and winter lodging.
Bryan and Sue Harris at Eagle Nest Lodge on Cutfoot Sioux, do not provide lake access or shelter rentals, but they do have excellent winter lodging available.
On Jessie Lake: Updated January 12, 2011 Rita Onaret at Jessie View Resort let me know this morning that their road plowing has been temporarily cancelled due to slush problems. Their plowed road is normally intended for guests using their rental shelters. But, when open, they do offer limited lake access to the public for a $5.00 access charge. Until further notice, access to the lake is by snowmobile only. Jessie view offers ice shelter rentals and winter lodging too.
On Leech Lake: Trappers Landing has plowed public access roads available for a $10.00 Access fee, they also have winter lodging available in their Townhome section and have a limitied number of ice shelter rentals available too.
Jeff and Warren Anderson both let me know that they have a plowed access road, open now on Pine Point where they keep a drop box for anglers heading out onto the lake. The access fee is $50 for the entire season or $10 per trip. He added that Horseshoe Bay Lodge is open in the winter and offer hotel rooms, cabins and condos. They also have a pool, bar and restaurant. Warren Anderson added that anglers are enjoying good Walleye and perch action right now. Richard Breda at Acorn Hill Resort says that their ice shelters will be available to rent immediately after Christmas. Acorn Hill also provides a plowed access road to their rentals. Norm Teegardin at The Shores (Pine Point) provides lake access to the public for a fee. They also have fish house rentals and winter lodging. At North Star Resort on Leech Lake's Portage Bay, there is a road plowed open to the public, use the lock box that they've provided for anglers to drop in the $6.00 road access fee. Just down the road at Federal Dam, Tonga's offer's winter cabin lodging and also offers fishing trips using portable shelters on Portage Bay Call to inquire 218-654-3715.
On Ball Club Lake: Gus's Place Resort
offers "flipper style" portable ice shelters for rent as well as ice auger rental. Gus, does provide a public plowed road access on to the lake for a $10.00 access fee. As of Jan. 2, 2011, the road is not open due to deep snow and ice that's too thin for safe truck travel. Walk out access or snow machines are currently recommended. Gus's Place is open year around and offers modern cabin, winter lodging.
On Big Turtle Lake: Steve Jones from Arcadia Lodge said that they do not provide plowed access roads on to the lake, but added; "We keep several cabins open in the winter. They range from 2 to 10 bedrooms and the winter special applies to all of them ($35/person/night)".
On Caribou Lake: Buckhorn Lodge provides winter lodging and the lake has a fishable population of Lake Trout. In winter, there is no plowed road on to the ice, but it's small enough that you can access fishing by walking.
On Cass Lake; Cass Lake Lodge has access roads open right now (12-31-10) and they also provide fish house rentals. Some of the rentals are sleepers and some day rentals, they also offer winter lodging.
Sue Marchant from Sah Kah Tay Resort on Cass Lake says that they offer public access to their plowed roads for $5.00, resort guests use the road for free. Winter lodging, fish house rental and food are all available at the lodge during the winter.
Oak Haven Resort, is centrally located near nine of the "Cass Lake Chain" of lakes. Mike and Deb Trachta let me know about availability of their "Premium Winter Lodging" in the Cass Lake/Bemidji area. They do not provide public road access or ice shelter rentals on the lakes. But, they will make referrals for guided ice fishing trips or you can make your own arrangements. They are open now and are accepting winter reservations for Ice Fishing. They have lodging for groups of 2 to 19 people with a minimum two night stay. They also offer discounts for "mid-week" stays.
On Kitchi Lake: The Mahaffeys at Lost Acres Resort on Kitchi have winter lodging available and provide public access roads to the lake for an $8.00 fee. They do not plow roads on the lake or provide ice shelter rental at this time.
On Blackduck Lake : An interesting twist on ice fishing from Monte & Sandy Sharbono at White Birch Resort on Blackduck is the offering of FREE ice shelters to winter lodging guests. Roads to the ice shelters are for guests only and not available to the public.
On Little Winnie, dark house rentals and winter lodging are available. They provide plowed road access for their lodging and shelter rental customers, but access roads are not open to the public.
On Dixon Lake the folks at Dixon Lake Resort provide lake access on the North end of Lake Winnie at Third River. This road has a '"donations" lock box for anglers who take advantage of this landing. On Dixon Lake, they provide ice shelter rental, winter lodging and plowed access roads. So far they are not driving on Dixon Lake, but expect to have roads open to the public in early January 2011.
On Bowstring Lake: Darv Oelke at Bowstring Shores Resort has 3 "wheel house rentals" out on the lake right now. They have additional rental fish houses avaialable, a 2 person spear house and 3 wheel houses (1 of them a 4 bed sleeper). Bowstring Shores also has 5 winter cabins available. They range from 2 to 8 bedroom units. Darv offers public drive out access for $7.00.
Over the past weekend, I attended the Minnesota DNR Roundtable Meetings in Minneapolis. There are always plenty of folks from media in attendance so I'm sure that the meetings have been written about extensively already. I'll spare you a lot of chit chat about the majority of the time I spent there, but there's one big issue we're going to need to get to work on right away.
Saturday was devoted almost entirely to issues surrounding the invasion of our waters by exotic species. You know that I don't like to get into the "Gloom and Doom" the way that some folks do, but this is some really scary stuff and it's not something that we have a lot of time to think about. There's a lot of invasives heading our way and I'll drop in a detail about several of them throughout the rest of our winter. But for right now, take a look at some of the information about one of the really nasty ones right away.
One of the more powerful presentations was one by Dick Sternberg about the impact of Zebra Mussels on freshwater lakes and fishing. The upshot is that once they get into your lake, they spread like wildfire and they impact every aspect of life on that lake. It doesn't matter if you fish, swim, ski or just like the smell of clean air, these critters are going to mess it up for you. His presentaion is going to be available in part, so I can share some more details in coming days and I will.
Listen, I know, this is going to be a pain in the butt, but we need to do everything we can to keep these from spreading any more than they already have. If you'll please just take a few minutes to see what they can do, you'll know why I'm concerned. To begin with , just do me one small favor and click on this you tube clip about the impact of Zebra Mussels on Lake Huron, It's only a few minutes long and you're not going to get a bunch of statistics. It will give you a jolt though and a rough idea what we're up against, right here, right now.
Ice Fishing Report January 12, 2011 Ice Fishing : More moderate temperatures on Tuesday led to a slight increase in traffic as more anglers find their way back to the lakes.
There have been a few developments to pay attention to, Nodaks Resort on Lake Winnie has their plowed road closed to public access until further notice. Resort guests continue to have use of the road, but with slush problems on the South end of the lake, too much excess traffic is a bad idea. They'll notify everyone when the access is available again.
Jessie View Resort, Jessie Lake access is currently "Snowmobile Only" until further notice. If slush problems clear up, the access may be open to vehicles later this winter.
Perch fishing reports from Leech Lake, especially on the west side have been good. The roads at the Shores at Pine Point are good and the perch fishing in traders bay has been steady. Many of the anglers that fished over there last weekend caught or nearly caught limits of Perch with many fish in the 10 inch or larger range. Trader's Bay, Goose Island and Duck Point are getting the most attention, but the roads from Pine Point now lead into the Walker Narrows too and this is typically a good area as well. The ice is about 18" now with anywhere from 9" to 20" of snow cover. Some people are reporting that some trucks can drive off of the roads, but be careful if you try it, there are still some deep snow drifts and slush usually builds up under them. Jigging spoons, jig heads and small blade baits tipped with all or part of a minnow will do the trick. Best depths have been anywhere from 12 to 14 feet.
Further west, Walleyes are hitting on the deep humps in Walker Bay, 30 to 40 feet of water
has been best. There's also an un-verified rumor that the Crappies and Sunfish are hitting as well. Maybe checking out Shingobee would be a good idea or at least ask a few more questions around the town of Walker.
On Lake Winnie, The Tulibee fishing that I recorded last weekend with UpNorth Media Productions is available now by using this link Tulibee video segment. Hey, I know it won't be up for any acadamy awards, but ya gotta start somewhere! I think we'll be doing more of this in the near future.
Yesterday's fishing reports from Winnibigosh came in really mixed. Some of the guys are still catching Walleyes out in the middle on main lake humps and bars, but with heavy pressure, the action is getting more spotty.
There has been a fairly good school of fish inhabiting the area of what we'd call the "East Humps" but it is a crap shoot and on most days, you can expect to be fishing in a crowd..
Perch have been tough to come by out in the middle of Winnie, but folks fishing shallower water in Tamarack Bay are catching some fish. They've tended to run on the smaller side, but if you sort through them, you'll get a meal.
Upper Red Lake, yesterday I reported that a fishing buddy of mine was able to drive up to the Center Bar area to fish. He found a road that someone had already plowed open. This morning, I read a report from Rogers Campground that says they had a truck break through while trying to open up a road to Center Bar. If you try to head that way, don't cut accross any un-plowed territory. If there's no road, then don't go because it's a mine field of thin spots under the snow. Anyone who decides to pretend that they are like Amerigo Vespucci up there is asking for trouble.
Ice Fishing Report January 11, 2011 Ice Fishing : The air temperatures moderated a little on Monday giving folks a chance to move around more. There are glimmers of hope about the ice fishing, but without a doubt, folks have been discouraged by the ice and snow conditions. In spite of the limitations, new roads are opening up every day and there are plenty of opportunities to wet a line.
Reporting from Ball Club Lake, Gus Place Resort "Lake conditions have greatly improved over a week ago. Ice is 16 inches with 3 inches of honey comb; 19 total. There are drifts with areas of slush under; you should avoid. The approaching very cold weather this coming weekend should be just what we need. Walleye (on Ball Club) have moved deeper 20-25ft. and the bite has been early and late afternoon. We are using Fat Heads for both Walleye & Perch. Perch have been both shallow (12-15) and deeper (20-25) inconsistent yes but, they are hungry and on the bite. I always share GPS info with my lodging customers".- Gus Sheker.
On Lake Winnie, John Seekon, The Pines Resort - Slush has been a problem in Tamarack Bay near the resort, so they are diverting traffic to Sunset View Resort where John now has roads plowed well out into the center of Tamarack Bay. He plans on expanding the system more throughout the week.
Checking in from Upper Red Lake, Vern Valliant let me know that he found some excellent Walleye fishing on Red over the weekend. Driving out from the South end, he discovered that someone has ounched a road out to the Center Bar area and he made his way out there. Fishing alone, he caught and released 36 Walleyes, making this one of the better reports I've heard from up there. Rental operators on the South side of the lake are all reporting that their customers catch fish daily, but in the higher traffic areas, the numbers are averaging mor like 8 to 12 fish each day.
On Bowstring Lake, better news from Chester Powell who snowmobiled out from the South side and reported that snow and ice conditions are much better on that side. Recent reports about slush and water on the North end of the lake had scared lots of folks away. I don't think that you'll be able to drive, but if you have snowmobiles, this might be worth looking at.
Hey! More snow for us today, but it doesn't sound like a huge amount. A back-log of computer work is going to keep me inside this morning. But, I can feel a nice long walk coming on this afternoon. More updates later.
Ice Fishing Report January 10, 2011 Ice Fishing : On Sunday, there was a classic confilict between calendar and weather. My friends Jason Green, Greg Clusiau, Blake Liend and I had scheduled a fishing trip to video a short Walleye segment on Lake Winnie. I woke up around 3:30 AM to a temperature of 11 degrees below zero, but by the time we arrived at the lake, the temperature had fallen to 28 degrees below zero.
We were hoping for a quick flurry of action as the sun rose, so while it was still dark, we made our way to an area that Greg had fished the day before with some success. Everyone managed to get holes drilled and had lines in the water before sunrise, but except for a few early Walleyes, the big flurry never really happened. After sunrise, we knew it was time to branch out, but as we began drilling new holes, the weather started playing tricks on our gear. The frigid temperatures started freezing things that shouldn't freeze and we started having problems keeping a head of steam going.
We were planning a major move to a new location when I started seeing a small, but steady number of suspended fish on my Humminbird. Hoping that they were Tulibees, I grabbed a rod that I'd rigged up with one of Northland's "Mud-Bugs", tipped it with a couple of wax worms and fished about a foot above the suspended fish. It only took a few seconds for the first fish to move up and pop the bait. Now I know we were supposed to be fishing for Walleyes, but I love action and I love smoked Tulibees (Ciscoes) too, so I suggested to Jason that we record a quick segment about fishing for them. He agreed and luckily, we had the full cooperation of the fish.
Tulibees typically move in the deeper, open water areas near mid lake structure, feeding on small minnows and insect larvae. Most often you'll see them on your flasher suspended several feet above the bottom (see flasher screen) to the right. Small jigs tipped with grubs are the best bait, but I've also caught them on some of the smaller jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads. Once you know that they're in the area, you can attract them by jigging large, flashy spoons. Once you see them on the flasher, switch back to the small jig & grub.
Hey, Some days are easier than others, but there's a ray of light in every one of them. Cold as it was, we were lucky today and found a whole bunch of them (ray's of light, this is).
Ice Fishing Report January 9, 2011 Ice Fishing : I got home from the Minnesota DNR Roundtable Meetings at about 7:30 on Saturday Evening, had a nice quiet evening and Now it's about 4:45 AM on Sunday. We'll be heading up to try and do a little video on Lake Winnie in about an hour.
I'll be able to catch up on the fishing reports and give you some of the key points of the DNR Roundtable later this evening. With a little luck, we'll even have a video to share soon.
Hey, I hope this is the day your trophy comes along!
Be sure to check back for an update later this (Sunday) evening.
Focusing on where the plowed roads are opened up has been about the only way that most of us can get on the lakes to fish and the good news is that there are more spots opening up every day as the operators get caught up. The list below is updated every day and all updates from new operators are welcome any time. Just EMAIL
On my afternoon tour yesterday, I ran up to Lake Winnie and checked on the landings along the shore at Bowen's Flats. So far, no one has attempted to punch a road out into Tamarack Bay, but there have been several snowmobiles heading in and out from there. Up the shore at the last landing, there's a road beaten into the snow that runs along the shoreline toward the gap at Cutfoot. I didn't drive out on it, but it actually looked pretty good and I'll bet most 4 wheel drive trucks would be okay using it. For now, the more traffic it gets, the better. Accross the road, there have been a few snowmobiles using the McAvity Bay landing, but you can see from the road that there's slush in the tracks. The track will re-frreze and I think eventually this will turn into a useable road.
Fishing reports haven't changed much since yesterday, so jump down to the fishing report from 1-5-11 for what we have at the moment.
Here's an update & fishing report from Gus Sheker at Ball Club Lake; Gus' Place Resort. In his own words; "Lake conditions here are less than desirable. We have 12 inches of good solid ice, then 3 inches of slush and that is topped off with 8-10 inches of snow. We have plowed access through the resort, but we are unable to plow lake roads at this time because the ice is only 12 inches thick. We are recommending lake travel by snowmobiles or walkout.
Fishing has been good for Perch, Pike and Walleye and slow for Crappie & Blue Gills.
We have been fishing last summers weeds with success for Perch & Northerns to 16-18ft. Using fatheads & glow jigs. Walleye have been running deeper @ 20-22ft. and most active at dusk; again using glow jigs. Many fish 14-15 inches are being caught. The Walleye fishermen using cams are spotting some large Whitefish".
As a bonus for his customers, Gus always shares GPS info with folks who lodge there.
Ice Fishing Report January 7, 2011 Ice Fishing : Well lucky for me that I have to head down to the Twin Cities for a couple of days to attend the Minnesota DNR Roundtable sessions. I'll be on the road early in the morning, so I probably won't have time to add much to the report before I leave.
Hey! In the next day or two, fishing and road conditions aren't going to change much anyway. So this little trip saves me from having to figure out a new way to say the same thing tomorrow that I already said yesterday. Ya Know?
When I get back, I'll drop in some notes about what the DNR has in store for us in 2011, along with news about any major fishing developments that occur in the Deer River area while I'm away.
Have a great weekend and be sure to let me know if something cool happens while you're out in the field.
Ice Fishing Report January 6, 2011 Ice Fishing : Cold, but stable weather is starting to help improve ice fishing action, but access is still limited. Last weeks snow storms are turning out to be the gift that keeps on giving! Snowmobiles have been the best option on almost all of the lakes, especially the smaller ones. But, now even snowmobilers are having problems with the slush and water that's building up under the ice. Almost everywhere, the weight of the snow laying on top of what was good, but fairly thin ice, is forcing water up on to the ice. Ice will improve later when the layer of water finally wicks up into the snow and then re-freezes. But until then, it's going to be tough trucking in a lot of areas.
Ice Fishing Report January 5, 2011 Ice Fishing : Another "recovery day" gave many, but not all of the winter resort operators a chance to finish digging out from the storm. Since everyone has been so swamped, it's been hard for me to get updates from many of them, so on Tuesday I packed up the truck and took a road trip from Deer River West to Lake Winnie, Leech Lake and a handful of the smaller area lakes. The conditions we found varied wildly from one location to the next, so you'll need to make some calls to be sure your favorite spot is still accessible. By the way, mention to your favorite operator(s) that they can get their status updates to me and I'll get the info added to this report daily.
Ice Report for 1-5-2011: Heading West from Deer River, our first stop was at Ball Club Lake where someone (locally) has plowed open an access road from US Hwy 2 into the DNR Public Acess on the South end. The road will get you into the landing, but not on to the lake, you'll need a snowmobile to move around out on that end of the lake. An alternative may be to go up Co Rd 39 to Gus's Place and use their access road. I requested an update from gus, but so far haven't heard back.
Our next stop was Six Mile Lake where the news is mixed. The forestry road (Old Six MIle Lake Road) leading to the winter access
landing was plowed, narrow, but in great condition. The landing road is not plowed though, so again, you'll need a snowmobile or ATV to get to the lake. Someone had broken a trail earlier this week using an ATV, but we could could not see if they were able to move around out on the lake.
Next stop for us was at Denny's Resort where Pat Rooney has done one of the best jobs of keeping the roads open. They had a nice wide road leading up the Southeast shoreline to a combuned, large group of rental and private
While we were there, I was able to get a fishing report from Pat too. He say's that there has been a good afternoon/evening bite for Walleyes in 16 to 20 feet of water, with 18 feet being his preference. The Perch action has also been good, but out deeper, for Perch, 28 to 30 feet depths have been better. Since you're depending on the plowed road to get to a fishing spot, you'll be limited to the main lake drop off area along the Southeast side, but that covers a lot of territory and you'll at least be able to find a place to fish.
Another Lake Winnie report came by email from Chris Dunker
at Big Wolf Resort. After a slow period during the storm, the fish made a slight New Years Recovery. They had several guests reporting catches of Walleye in the protected slot (17-26 inches) but a few of them managed to bag limits of keepers too. Both Chris and Pat Rooney mentioned that there have been some Walleyes hitting at night from around 10 PM to 2 AM as well.
According to Chris, Perch action has been slower, but now that the weather has stabilized, they're hopeful that the action will pick up again.
From the South end of Winnie, we headed toward Federal Dam and stopped in at the landing near North Star Resort on the North end of Leech Lake (Portage Bay). Things were still a little dicey here because the access road through the resort to the lake is good, but once you get on the lake, there's only a hodge podge of attempted plow jobs, mostly by folks trying to get out to their own shelters. You might get on a decent track for a while, but don't count on covering a lot of ground on the lake. We talked with one young man from Remer, MN who said that fishing for Perch had been good before the storm. He said that Walleyes were present, but not very cooperative.
The locals may keep chipping away at the roads here, but for now, I'd play it safe and go out using a snow machine.
Making our way toward the Southwest side of Leech Lake, we spotted several old roads that were now snowed in, but except for a few "private" roads that some of the resorts operate for guests only, we didn't get to another really good access until we arrived at The Shores at Pine Point. Here, they have done another great job of covering a lot of territory with a nice wide road. There were a ton of ice shelters in this area and more on the way. The access fee is $10.00, but if you want to fish anywhere from Pine Point to Goose Island, this is the way to go.
Hey, by now we'd been in the truck for a few hours and I wanted to get home so I could shovel the snow off of my roof. I decided to high-tail it back to Deer River and got here just in time, in fact, during the last few minutes of daylight, I took a sunset picture while I was still up on the roof. Today, I'll get a little look at the North end of Winnie and Cutfoot and post that tomorrow.
Ice Fishing Report January 4, 2011 Ice Fishing : Some of the area roads showed signs of improvement on Monday and many of the reosrts have their "ice roads" plowed back open, at least enough to get back out to their main areas again. The reports about where we can and can't fish are coming in mixed, but it's generally safe to say that almost all of the lake access roads are snowed in. I tried to plow a path up at my farm yesterday and it is going to be a major job if I want to get it done. Deep snow stops my truck in it's tracks every 50 yards or so. If you're used to fishing small lakes on the back roads, you'll need a snowmobile or an Argo to get there.
I managed to get out of the house for a while yesterday afternoon and drove up to look at the Southeast side of Lake Winnie. Along the way, I checked the access roads at Ball Club and Little Ball Club Lakes. There are no roads plowed into either of them and without a snowmobile or a lot of exercise, these lakes won't be accessible for a while.
Heading toward Highbanks, I stopped at the Winnibigoshish Dam to look at Tamarack Bay and it looked really quiet from the bridge, I couldn't see any ice houses or traffic up near Tamarack Point. The water is still high and the river flowing out of the dam looks more like the scene you'd expect to see in spring, during ice out.
There were a few ice shelters set up to the Northeast of Plughat Point, but either there isn't a road out to them yet, or else no one had the idea to fish there yesterday. Either way, it was quiet! On my way toward Highbanks, I noted that the access road into the Birches is snowed in as well. There was a lot of traffic coming and going from there last week, so it's possible that someone will try to plow it back open, but I'd count on using the access at Highbanks Resort instead. As of this morning, they have their roads re-opened back out to the humps and they're working on adding spurs to additional fishing spots today. By the time I left Highbanks yesterday, it was getting dark, so I didn't see much more. But I got a couple of updates via email this morning.
On Lake Winnie, There is a pressure ridge
formed in the usual place between Tamarack Point and the gap at Cutfoot. According to John Seekon at the Pines Resort, the road system in Tamarack Bay is expanding daily. Use either the access at the Pines or the one at Sunset View.
John Seekon added that Perch fishing in Tamarack Bay has been good. He says; "The best depth for Perch fishing has been 14 feet, with lots of fish being caught, but some sorting required for the larger fish. The morning bite has been better than late in the day with glow white jigs producing the best".
On Bowstring Lake, Darv Oelke at Bowstring Shores says that fishing has been fair, his customers have had a mixed bag of Walleye, Perch and Northern Pike coming in. He's done his best to get some new roads plowed, but on Bowstring they're fighting a slush/water problem under the heavy snow. He say's that he's run into some places where there was up to a foot of water under the snow. Your best bet on Bowstring will be to get in touch with Darv about using the new roads as they freeze back up again.
On Leech Lake, fishing the west side has been really good according to Norm Teegardin at The Shores at Pine Point, they have about eight miles of roads plowed between Pine Point and Goose Island. He says that the fishing has been excellent with a mixed bag of Jumbo Perch and Walleye coming in.
Hey, Information is starting to flow again, so today I'm going to make my rounds and get a fishing destination set up for tomorrow. I'll be entertaining a guest rider today and haven't quite figured out my game plan, but I know we'll be out checking the ice and road conditions somewhere. If you spot us, take a second an say hello.
Ice Fishing Report January 3, 2011 Ice Fishing : It was great to see the sunshine again and almost equally great to get some of the snow moved. But I'm afraid that Sunday wasn't much more than a day to breathe and get the real work started. There is a lot of snow out there and most of the operators just barely got the roads re-opened, let alone ready for heavy traffic. I left the house at mid-morning to go and get a first hand look at the progress, but the highway conditions were so bad that I decided to stay off the highways until today. Ironically, the un-paved county roads are in much better condition than the paved highways. There's a lot less ice build up, and the plowing job has been excellent.
For most anglers, getting home was more important than catching a fish and almost all of the traffic I saw was heading South. By the end of the day on Sunday, there were a handful of lodges that had their roads plowed open, but many still had them closed to the public until they can be widened.
I did not get a single, current fishing report, but the sun is out again this morning and I expect a few anglers to start moving around today.
The most optimistic report I've gotten back so far was from Highbanks Resort. As of this morning, they have their roads re-opened back out to the humps and added "we’ll continue to expand our roads as conditions allow."
Hey, It's the first day of business for the new year! Now that everyone is back in school, I'm looking forward to clearing some of the paperwork off of my desk. For the morning, I'll stick around and then head out for a look around later this afternoon.
Ice Fishing Report January 2, 2011 Ice Fishing : The storm has passed, the winds are calm again and it looks like we're ready to finish getting plowed out and work our way back wo normal. Luckily for us, we didn't receive many additional inches of snowfall on Saturday, so all we have to do is get rid of the drifts that the wind blew in. For today, calm winds and a sunny skies will help make the recovery go faster. Once everyone catches back up, the real fishing reports will start to flow again.
On Saturday, most of the traffic I saw on the roads, were pickup trucks with snow plows. I talked with Ken Grife at Fred's Bait and as expected, traffic in the shop was really slow.
But in spite of the heavy winds, there were a handful of anglers who had made it up for the weekend and they weren't to be denied a chance to fish. Most of them, had some protection in heated ice shelters on the lakes where roads had been plowed before the storm.
On the South end of Lake Winnibigoshish, the fishing action was fair. Perch and Walleye were both being caught on the deeper breaklines in water depths of 26 to 30 feet. Perch are hitting during the daylight hours on Buckshot Spoons tipped with minnow heads.
"Keeper" 14 to 16 inch Walleyes hit for a short time at dusk, but gave up shortly past dark. Some of the anglers that spent Friday night in a sleeper house, reported that a few larger "slot fish" were caught during the night on live minnows fished on plain hooks below their rattle reels.
Northern Pike have started showing up out on the deeper breaklines as well. Using a tip up rigged with large size Golden Shiners is one good way to catch them, but they will also respond well to large jigging spoons and the larger size jigging Rapalas.
Slush on the ice will be a problem in certain areas now. On Saturday I stopped and talked with a couple of anglers as they attempted to make their way out onto White Oak Lake to move their dark house. One of them had already moved his house off of Bass Lake and told me that while he worked on blocking up the house to make the move, his snowmobile froze solid into the slush causing a 2 hour removal project. Expect similar probelms in areas where the ice wasn't fully developed before the snow storms and also in areas where deeper drifting has occured. According to Chad Benson on Red Lake there are areas where the snow has drifted as deep as 4 feet. Unless you're using a snow machine, depending on the plowed roads will be the only way to get around up there.
Hey, We had a little fishing trip set up for this afternoon, but I'm not sure that we'll pull it off. Either way, I'll be out and about a lot today checking up on conditions around the area. Drop me a line with an update if you have one!
Ice Fishing Report January 1, 2011 Ice Fishing : When I peaked out the window this morning, I was hoping that I wouldn't see another foot of snow laying on the ground! So far, I've gotten my wish, but it still looks like we're in for another day of plowing and cleanup. The worst is probably over though and I'm hoping that we'll be able to pull off the fishing trip we have planned for tomorrow.
On Friday, travel conditions in the Deer river area were pretty bad and trying to get around on the ice would have been even worse. The only folks that had a chance to fish, were the groups that were already out in the larger rental houses located on plowed roads.
Even then, many of the rental operators gave up trying to plow because the winds blew roads shut faster than they could keep up.
Now, most of us who want to ice fish will be dependent on plowed roads. I sent out lots of messages last night and I'm sure that it will be much later today beforue I start hearing back from most of them. I'll stay on top of where the best accesses are and update that list tomorrow after folks get moving again.
Hey, for me, the day will be another one spent moving snow and then later, the big event! Kathryn Rose Sundin's 17th Birthday.
Ice Fishing Report December 31, 2010 Ice Fishing : I guess it's going to be kind of tough for me to put the good spin on the fishing report for the last day of 2010. I can usually find something encouraging to say almost every day, but on Thursday we all had the same dilemma, no choice but to hole up and wait to see how much of a storm we were in for.
There were some folks fishing in the morning, but gradually, the weather deteriorated and by late afternoon, much of the local traffic was shut down.
There was good news though, even though I had to skip my Pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota, I talked with my buddy Chad Haatvedt last night and my friends did manage to make the trip. He said that they just barely beat the weather and arrived safely, but it wasn't an easy ride down. They'll be hunting today, so hopefully I'll at least be able to see pictures of their birds.
Hey, for me, there's not going to be much talk about fishing today. It looks like I can plan on moving snow for most of the day so that tomorrow, I'll have room to move the snow that we're going to get tonight.
Starting now, most of us who want to ice fish are going to get pretty dependent on plowed roads for
a while. I'll stay on top of where the best accesses are and update that tomorrow after folks get moving again. If you're not already here, but planned to make the trip this weekend, please think twice and check the travel advisories before you start driving.
Ice Fishing Report December 30, 2010 Ice Fishing : I know it sounds a little crazy to hear someone say that they're hoping for colder weather, but if you want to get out on the ice, that's what we need. The warm up over the past few days has been nice, but it's been working against travelling on the ice.
On Wednesday I thought I'd snoop around for something different to do, so I headed over to Deer Lake. It was heaven for the snowmobilers who were out playing on the lake, but a disappointment for me because I couldn't dind a decent way to get fishing gear out onto the ice. I got my truck stuck
at the landing almost immediately and wound up settling for a nice walk instead of a fishing trip. I still wanted to see what the conditions were like out on the main lake, so I hoofed it out about a half mile just to see what it looked like.
The snow isn't all that deep, but thanks to the warm weather, it's packed loosely and felt slippery under my feet. It looks like the ice is good, there's been a lot of snowmobile traffic out there and it appears that they've been moving around freely, but in certain places there was slush under the snow. So back to my original point, we need another cold snap to re-freeze the slush and loose packed snow. Once we have that and if we don't get blasted with a bunch of new snow, then travel by ATV should be fairly simple again.
On Lake Winnie, most anglers are reporting average fishing. Most anglers who are Walleye fishing are catching enough fish for meal, but not many folks are wearing out the drags in their reels. The best Walleye action continues to be out in the center of the main lake, with some additional good fishing reported by anglers fishing the shoreline drop off along the south shore.
On Tuesday I got a fishing update from Chris Dunker at Big Wolf Resort about the rental houses they have on Lake winnie. Chris says that most of the action for their clients was in the houses located over 20-22 feet of water. The clients said they were using Macho Minnows tipped with two cut pieces of a minnow. Walleyes were acvtive from about 7 AM until around 10 AM.
They caught two Walleyes that with were "in the slot" AND the remaining 6 were nice keepers between 15-16.5 inches.
Perch action on Winnie has been slow for most, but some above average catches are coming in. On Monday, Chester Powell and Cassie Vollhaber got onto a nice location and had some really Jumbo Perch fishing.
I've been chipping away at the "Winter Lodging" and Ice Access information and will set that up as a chart during the next few days. For now, re-read the information below occasionally because I add the new information as it comes in from the resorts. You may find a couple of new ones every day.
Leech Lake, anglers going out of Brindley's Harbor are catching a mixed bag of Walleye and Perch. The action has been hit and miss, but the best action is still coming.
I got a report from Darv Oelke at Bowstring Shores Resort. Darv reports that fishing on Bowstring has been fair, a few Walleyes and Jumbo Perch are coming in and the Northern Pike are plentiful. He says that the ice thickness is about 14 inches. Angling traffic on the lake has been light and so far he's seen very little vehicle traffic.
He has been driving on the lake with the pickup and has 3 "wheel house rentals" out on the lake right now.
Hey, I guess we're playing it by ear today as we wait to see what the weather brings. I'm sure I'll get outside
later on to check on things. In the meantime, I'll be chipping away here on the computer.
Ice Fishing Report December 29, 2010 Ice Fishing : On Tuesday we had one of the classic winter break warm ups. As far back as I can remember, we've had these bursts of spring like weather just after Christmas and even though I know it will get cold again soon, it's sure nice to be able to get outside and enjoy a few days of gorgeous winter weather. Too bad for me that I spent my day working instead of being out on the lake.
Hey, I'm planning on making up for that later today, but yesterday I did have an hour of quiet time at the end of the day. I can't explain why, but I had this sudden urge to go sit in the Deer Stand and see if the Deer would be moving toward evening, oh man, am I ever happy I did that! The warm, calm weather was really encouraging the Deer to move and for an hour, they were everywhere. I still didn't see any bucks, but as it got dark, I was up to a count of 17. If you count the three I stumbled into on my way out, that makes an even 20. Not bad for a place where I only see a few deer during the entire hunting season.
Oh yeah, fishing; According to the worm girl at Fred's Bait, the shop was packed with anglers again on Tuesday. Lot's of them are heading to Red Lake where the Walleye fishing has been steady since the season opened. The ice conditions on Red are still good on the South side, but they're battling problems with deep snow and thin ice out in the middle and on the North side. You'll find good plowed roads on the south end, but few if any, to the North.
There are also a ton of anglers taking their big "wheel houses" up to Lake of the Woods. Fishing there has also been slower than average for this time of the season, but almost everyone is catching enough fish to make it worth the effort.
Ice Fishing Report December 28, 2010 Ice Fishing : On Monday, the wheel houses started showing up from everywhere. According the folks at Fred's Bait in Deer river, they've been swamped with anglers coming in to get supplies as they make their way to set up the big rigs. Right now, there's a lot of traffic heading for Lake Winnie, Red Lake and Lake of the Woods. Right now, about 85 percent of the operators that provide access raods and winter rentals are open and in full operation. By the end of this week, most of the others will also be up and running.
Fishing reports continue to be a spotty. The early Crappie and Walleye spots that provided some of the better action last week, have been fished hard now and the pressure has slowed the action down. The best bet for anglers getting set up for the next week will be to branch out and find some fresh locations. As long as we don't get too much more snow, travel on the ice will continue to be good. There's about 8 inches of snow cover on most of the Deer River area lakes and drifting has been minimal. The ice access reports that I have posted below, also provide a sketch of where the fishing action has been best.
For me, the day will be consist of playing butcher boy as I and some friends carve up some pigs that we bought from a local farmer. I know, that doesn't sound too glamorous, but it will be really good food when we're finished. I think I'll be able to make a trip out to the lake on Wednesday to see if I can drum up some new spots myself.
Hey, I can't believe that I made such a dumb mistake, I must have eaten too much Rum Cake or something! Yesterday I said that I and Matt Mattson were planning our attack on the Walleyes at the Rainy River for this spring. I added that it was only 4 months away, but it's really only 3 months away!!! Yes, that's right, in fact it's only 94 days until April 1st. Oh man, where did the winter go?
Ice Fishing Report December 27, 2010 Ice Fishing : On Sunday we were blessed with our first sunny day in at least a week. it was probably one of the prettiest trips up the highway I'll get this winter, the snow was pure white and hadn't been blown out of the tree branches yet. While the bright sunshine was gorgeous to look at, it didn't seem to do much for the fishing, but who cares?
Crappies and Sunfish had been hitting well on Cutfoot Sioux, so we decided to try that. We arrived at the landing at about 12:30 and it was packed, there were rigs parked everywhere, so we decided to park my truck on the ice. As we unloaded the Otter and the 4 wheeler, one pickup truck drove past us and headed toward the shore from somewhere out on the lake. There was another set of truck tracks heading the same way we were going, but since we had the ATV, we decided to play it safe and use it. Before we were finished, we'd end up seeing at least a half dozen full size trucks driving around and none of them had any trouble getting around in the snow. Next time, I'll leave the ATV home as well.
When we started fishing for panfish, we discovered that it was a lot easier to see fish on the flashers than it was to get them to strike. Fishing the same area(s) that had been good earlier this week was not working at all, so I headed toward the weedline hoping to find some Perch and maybe a Walleye or two. On a shallow point adjacent to a deep hole, I drilled a half dozen holes and started hopping around. I had a lot of Perch action in about 7 feet of water, but they were mainly small fish. Still, it was getting cold on the ice and I decided to set up the Otter and stick with this area. There were flurries of action occasionally and we did manage to save enough to send Matt home with a meal, but overall it was slow. We'd hoped that there would be a few Walleyes making an evening run, but this didn't materialize either.
Hey, believe me when I tell you that even a slow fishing day beats the heck out of sitting around with all of those Christmas cookies staring me in the face! It was absolutely wonderful to spend the afternoon with my pal, planning our strategy for the April Walleye run on the Rainy River, which by the way, is only 4 months away!
Be sure to listen or go to KAXE 91.7 FM Grand Rapids Radio on Thursdays at 6:20 AM. We
usually try to expand on this report. If you miss the show, you can pick it up on the KAXE
website. Ask fishing questions if you need to and I'll try to get back to you ASAP. Use these links to read Minnesota Fishing Artcicles and get information about my favorite MN Fishing Lakes.