Minnesota Outdoor News Fishing Report — March 3, 2017
LAKE MILLE LACS
East – Some resorts have closed their accesses, while others were still allowing anglers to use ATVs or vehicles early in the week. Call ahead to find out what travel and access options remain for this weekend. The deep, mud basin areas in 28 feet or more remain the best option for perch. Tullibees are being found suspended over 30 feet or more throughout the lake. A 1.83 pound jumbo won last weekend’s Perch Extravaganza.
Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811
West – The main lake ice continues to be in good shape, but some shorelines are opening so driving trucks on it is no longer an option. Snowmobiles and ATVs should be travel options this weekend, but call ahead. Perch are spread out and some jumbos are being caught in the deep mud areas, just not big numbers of them. Tullibee reports have been better with fish being found suspended over 32 to 35 feet on the south end of the Eight Mile Flat, Sherman’s Flat, and the Cut.
Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
With good lake conditions, ice fishing through March looks to be an option here. Electronics help for spotting the many suspended walleyes, but the bite continues to be good for sauger and walleyes in 29 to 33 feet during the morning and early afternoon hours. Just before nightfall, 17 to 24 feet has been best. The Rainy River is open from Birchdale to the east, only shore ice remains in this stretch and there has been some reports that anglers are pushing small boats over the ice. At the Northwest Angle, 20 to 24 inches of ice is being found in the non-current areas. Work the shallower rock points on the Minnesota side for walleyes in 20 to 24 feet and the 28- to 30- foot mud. On the Ontario side, walleyes are being caught on the rock humps, and crappie action has been hit and miss over 25 feet or more.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau (800) 382-FISH
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
There isn’t much to report with most accesses now deteriorated to the point that you can no longer get on the lakes. The channels also are ice-free and although a few people were walking on a couple of lakes, fishing success has been limited.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
Walleye action has slowed quite a bit this week, but when they do go, the reefs remain the best option in 28 to 34 feet out from McKinley Park. Some fish also are being caught in less than 20 feet during low-light periods. Trucks continue to be used and ice conditions remain good, but the people fishing are now using portables.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
Trucks are still being used off most resort accesses, but many resorts have closed their accesses to the public in order to keep them maintained for customers. The lake is in good shape and as of Tuesday morning, the Rich’s Townsite public access was open, but check with resorts. The perch bite has been strong, especially during the morning hours in 16 to 18 feet from Hunter’s Hump to River Bar. There’s also been good perch action off Raven’s Point in 18 to 22 feet.
Most shorelines remain intact, main lake ice is good, and trucks were being used early this week – just watch for cracks. Perch reports have been best off Goose Island, First Duck and Second Duck points in 8 to 12 feet. Perch also are going in 9 to 11 feet off Sand Point and Cedar Point – you’ll have to do some sorting of small fish in most locations. Tullibee reports continue to improve off Stoney Point and in Horseshoe Bay over 25 to 40 feet.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company (218) 547-2250
The recent thaw has made travel a bit more difficult, but it did not slow the walleye and sauger action. Glow jigs and minnows tight to the bottom are producing fish in 24 to 32 feet. The hottest spots also have the easiest access, which means Sand Bay, Black Bay, and American Narrows are worth noting. Some crappies are being caught in these same areas by anglers willing to look for these suspended fish.
International Falls CVB (800) 325-5766
With the walleye season now closed, fishing pressure has dropped way off. It has been colder since last week so most accesses are holding up if you want to chase crappies throughout the remainder of the season.
Mort’s Dock (218) 647-8128
Twin Cities Metro
Ice conditions continue to deteriorate and most shorelines have opened so the few anglers still fishing are walking out. Main lake ice still measured 12 to 14 inches early this week, but only about 6 inches of that ice is solid. Some panfish were being caught, but not with any consistency.
Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle (651) 777-2421
Although the edges of most lakes are beat up, a few people have continued to walk on select lakes. Generally, the ice is good enough to walk on if you can access it. Most anglers have put their ice fishing equipment away so there hasn’t been much worth reporting.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
The shorelines are open and main lake ice is suspect at best. It looks black and that has kept everybody from chancing it. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in ice fishing this area at this point in the season.
Prior Lake Bait & Tackle (952) 447-6096
Even though you can still get an ATV on the majority of lakes, fishing pressure has been light. Crappie action has really slowed, but you will catch some sunfish on Lake Victoria and Lake Geneva in less than 10 feet.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle (320) 763-3255
Fishing reports have been light, mainly because there hasn’t been many people going. The shorelines have been beat, and the few anglers still fishing are walking out. Early this week, some panfish were being caught on lakes such as Sylvia, Clearwater, John, Cedar, and Pleasant but not with any consistency.
Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297
BATTLE LAKE AREA
People are using ATVs or walking, it depends on the lake, and watch the shorelines. Crappies are being found suspended over 17 to 20 feet on West Battle Lake, Rush Lake, Buchanan Lake, and Blanche Lake. Look for sunfish in 10 to 15 feet on West Battle, Rush, Blanche, and Clitherall Lake. A few tullibees have started being caught over 35 to 40 feet at Clitherall, Lida Lake, and Star Lake.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
Perch action remains strong on the 27- to 32- foot mud areas of Lake Bemidji. Pike Bay Lake and Bemidji are producing eelpout in 15 to 20 feet and Walker Brook Lake near Bagley is kicking bluegills in 12 to 14 feet. Crappies are hitting after sunset in the narrows of Wolf Lake in 32 feet. Main lake ice is in good shape and most accesses have improved since last week with the cooler weather.
Taber’s Bait (218) 751-5781
Blackduck Lake and Island Lake are producing perch on the 15- to 20- foot mud areas. Blackduck also is giving up some crappies and bluegills in 20 to 25 feet. Hit Pimushe Lake and Gull Lake for bluegills in 16 to 20 feet or Gilstead Lake for crappies over 20 to 30 feet. Any soft ice or shoreline areas have buttoned up since last week so trucks are still being used on most lakes.
Timberline Sports and Tackle (218) 835-4636
It depends on the lake as far as depth, but crappies are being pulled from 15 to 25 feet on the south end of Gull Lake, North Long Lake, and Cullen Lake. Look for sunfish in 10 to 12 feet at North Long, Cullen, Nisswa Lake, and Roy Lake. Tullibees and eelpout are being found suspended over 38 to 40 feet on the north end of Gull. Main lake ice is holding up, just watch the accesses as you go.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010
Although most shorelines are becoming sketchy, anglers continue to walk on area lakes. The south bay on Chisago Lake is giving up sunfish in 12 feet, and there’s a decent crappie bite on North Center Lake in 8 to 12 feet.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
Most accesses locked up with the cool weather so ATVs and snowmobiles are being used and main lake ice continues to be solid. Crappies and sunfish are biting during the day on Milford Lake and Little Rabbit in 20 to 28 feet. During the evening hours Bay Lake, Rabbit Lake, and Clearwater Lake are producing crappies over 30 to 40 feet. Trout remain active on Huntington Pit, Manuel Pit, Alstead Pit, and Mahnomen Pit #2.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle (218) 546-6912
DETROIT LAKES AREA
Travel is limited mainly to ATVs or walking throughout the area. Crappies and sunfish are biting in 20 to 30 feet on Big Detroit Lake, Floyd Lake, and Height of Land Lake. Look for crappies on Cotton Lake in 16 to 30 feet and tullibees are showing up suspended over the deep holes of Long Lake by Vergas.
Quality Bait and Tackle (218) 844-2248
All area lakes are fishable with light ATVs or walking safe bets. Hit Rice Lake in 5 feet for perch, while Fish Lake and Caribou Lake are producing crappies in 16 to 18 feet. Anglers fishing from shore in front of the French River on Lake Superior continue to catch coho salmon and Kamloops on waxies, crawlers, or spawn sacs and Looper Bugs.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
EAST CENTRAL MN
Green Lake and Blue Lake are producing crappies and sunfish in 17 feet. Open water fishing on the Mississippi River has been productive for smallmouth bass and catfish in Monticello and at the Elk River warm water discharge area. You still have to use caution and watch the accesses, but ATVs are being used on some lakes, while walking is the better option on others.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop (763) 856-3985
A few crappies are being caught on Lawrence Lake in 15 to 18 feet and Eagle Lake is producing sunfish in 25 feet. Look to Lake Washburn in 20 to 25 feet for crappies throughout the day. Ice and access conditions are good, actually improved since last week, and some light trucks are being used on certain lakes, but ATVs are the better way to go.
Redding Sports and Spirits (218) 763-2191
The shorelines are open about 100 yards or so on most lakes. Many bays are now ice-free and any ice that remains is rotten and going away fast. The only report worth noting is coming off the West Des Moines River where anglers are fishing from shore and catching the occasional walleye.
Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225
There’s still plenty of ice on most lakes, but the shorelines have started to pull away so local fishing efforts have been minimal. Most accesses are beat up beyond repair as well.
Nagel’s Live Bait (507) 334-8341
GRAND RAPIDS AREA
Crappies and sunfish continue to bite on Little Cutfoot Sioux Lake in 20 feet, while Big Cutfoot is producing crappies in 22 to 30 feet. Look to Bass Lake for panfish in 16 to 20 feet and Jay Gould Lake continues to produce perch in 10 to 12 feet. Perch and crappies are going in 20 to 30 feet on Bowstring Lake and hit Big Splithand and Little Splithand lakes for panfish in 20 feet or more. Ice conditions continue to allow for truck and ATV travel, but call ahead for ice conditions heading into this weekend.
Ben’s Bait and Tackle (218) 326-8281
GREY EAGLE AREA
The shorelines have firmed up a bit so ATVs or walking remain safe options – it just depends on the lake and access conditions. Crappies are suspended just below the ice over 10 feet on Bass Lake. You have to watch the shorelines on the north end of Big Swan Lake, but crappies and sunfish are hitting in 15 to 18 feet. Sunfish also can be had out from the Hub Supper Club on Long Lake.
Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405
Ice conditions have improved since last week, trucks were being used early in the week, but ATVs might be a better option by the weekend. Sunfish have moved into 10 to 16 feet on Brockway Lake, Lake Ada, and Pleasant Lake. Look for crappies in 15 to 20 feet on Webb Lake, while the bays on Woman Lake are producing crappies and sunfish in 15 feet.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle (218) 675-6176
Sunfish continue to be tough to find, but crappies are being caught on McCormick Lake in 24 to 26 feet and McQuade Lake in 18 feet. Anglers are hooking some trout on the Kinney Pit as well. Ice conditions remain good and trucks are being used on lakes throughout the area.
Lucky 7 General Store (218) 254-7168
Anglers continue to enjoy good perch, tullibee, and whitefish action, but crappie reports have been limited. These fish are hitting in 30 feet or more during the morning and afternoon hours. The ice road remains open and is providing good access for people between the Kabetogama and Ash River Visitor centers. Snowmobile trails also remained groomed.
Gateway Store (218) 875-2121
Most lakes remained suitable for truck traffic early this week, but that could change by the weekend so call ahead. Despite the good conditions, crappie and bluegill action has been slow. You have to do some sorting and stay on the move, but Woman Lake is kicking out perch in 6 to 8 feet or 30 to 35 feet.
The One Stop (218) 363-2252
MADISON LAKE AREA
Any ice that’s left is rotten and deteriorating fast. Although a handful of anglers were walking on a lake or two early in the week, that likely won’t be an option by the weekend. In fact, there’s a chance that some small lakes could be ice-free within the next week.
Corner Bait (507) 243-4464
Jeneke’s Point on Knife Lake is giving up sunfish and crappies in 8 to 10 feet. Sunfish also can be had by the island on Fish Lake. Although it depends on the lake, ATVs or walking remain options throughout the area, just watch the acccess areas and shorelines.
Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop (320) 679-2151
Long Tom Lake east of Ortonville is opening, while the shorelines on Big Stone Lake are breaking up. A few anglers were walking out early this week, but the winter fishing season appears to have come to an early end. Artie’s also has reduced hours as they prepare for the open water season.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
Look to the Crow Wing Chain for bluegills in 8 to 12 feet, and Big Mantrap Lake continues to kick out crappies over 30 feet – these fish are suspended. Although some shorelines have taken a hit, ATVs continue to be used on most lakes without any issues.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors (218) 237-5099
Look for crappies and sunfish in 12 to 15 feet on Rush Lake, Star Lake, and Dead Lake. Big Pine Lake is giving up crappies in 30 feet, while tullibees have started biting better over 50 to 70 feet on Long Lake and Little Pine Lake. ATVs are now the best means to travel on area lakes.
Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355
RED WING AREA
Water levels rose about 5 feet on the Mississippi River since last week, but it started to recede early this week and should be very fishable by the weekend. The majority of walleyes and sauger being caught are coming off the slack water or eddie areas next to current with a jig and minnow.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA
A handful of people were walking on a few lakes this week, but it’s no longer recommended. The shorelines and channels have opened and there’s quite a bit of uncertainty on the condition of most main lake ice areas.
Channel Marine and Sports (320) 597-5975
SAUK CENTRE AREA
Sunfish and crappies are biting in 8 feet on Fairy Lake and Maple Lake or in 8 to 10 feet on Smith Lake. On the north end of Lake Osakis, anglers are catching more crappies than sunfish on dark-colored jigs and grass shrimp in 16 to 20 feet, although some are being found in shallower water. Shoreline conditions have actually improved on most lakes and ATVs are being used, but there are a few exceptions so watch the accesses.
Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155
STAPLES/LITTLE FALLS AREA
Walking is now the best travel option on area lakes, and you do have to watch most accesses and shorelines as you venture out. Ice conditions and limited travel opportunities have really limited the number of people fishing. A few crappies are being caught on Fish Trap Lake, but that’s been about it.
Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056
A lot of the accesses on area lakes are no longer good to get on, but ATVs are being used on other lakes. At this point, check the ice on all lakes before heading out. Anglers were using ATVs early this week on the Glenwood end of Lake Minnewaska where a few sunfish were being caught in 12 feet and crappies were being found suspended over 15 feet.
Minnewaska Bait and Tackle (320) 239-2239
If anyone is on the ice, they are reduced to walking out and even that’s been limited. With the shorelines opening and main lake ice continuing to deteriorate, the winter fishing season is pretty much done here.
Brad’s 71 Bait and Sports (320) 235-4097
The shorelines and accesses are open enough to prevent anyone from getting on area lakes. The ice that remains is black and rotten so the winter fishing season appears to be over here.
Borch’s Sporting Goods (507) 532-4880