Open water an option; ice fishing continues in the north

BIG SIX

LAKE MILLE LACS

Ice conditions are deteriorating rapidly. Most shorelines now
have pulled away from land and there’s open water evident in
several bays. Look for open water anglers to start looking for
perch and crappies in their traditional spring spots soon.

Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811 www.johnsonsportside.com

Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430

LAKE OF THE WOODS

Most of the Rainy River is open shore-to-shore and accesses have
been plowed making way for big boats. However, the river did get
muddy late last week, bringing a screeching halt to what had been a
very good walleye bite. Sturgeon anglers continue to do well
despite the dirty water conditions. Many resorts now have closed
their access roads due to poor shoreline conditions. Where access
is still an option, ATVs are recommended.

Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau (800) 382-FISH

LEECH LAKE AREA

Anglers continue to pull perch through the ice near Sand Point
and Pine Point in less than 10 feet of water. Shingobee Bay is
kicking out bluegills in 12 feet of water. Ice conditions were
decent earlier this week, but that could change by this weekend
with additional rain or warm temperatures.

Walker Bait Company (218) 547-2248

LAKE MINNETONKA

The shorelines and channels have busted open and a few crappies
have been pulled from open water. Look to the north side of Wayzata
Bay, the Grays Bay bridge, and Black Lake to be the first locations
to provide open water crappie action.

Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227

RAINY LAKE

Ice anglers continue to pull walleyes from Sand Bay in 26 to 32
feet of water. There’s also some evening walleye activity in 26
feet of water in the Rainy Lake City area and American Narrows. The
best open water walleye report is coming above the Little Fork
River on the Rainy River.

Loon’s Nest (218) 286-5850

LAKE WINNIBIGOSHISH

Most resorts now have shut down their access roads for the
season. The shorelines are showing signs of a spring thaw, but main
lake ice remains favorable for fishing if you can get on it. This
could change quickly so caution is advised.

Pines Resort and Campground (218) 246-8546

Nodak Lodge (218) 665-2226

Twin Cities Metro

NORTHEAST METRO

The ice that remains is melting quickly. Most anglers now have
started working the traditional spring, open water crappie
locations, but with limited success. A few crappies have been
caught with minnows by anglers fishing from shore on the Vermillion
River.

Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle (651) 777-2421

WEST METRO

The ice fishing season came to an end late last week. The
shorelines and bays have opened and some lakes are expected to be
wide open by this weekend. Once that happens, crappies should start
being caught in their usual spring haunts.

Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022

Statewide

ALEXANDRIA AREA

A few anglers were “sneaking” on the ice earlier this week, but
it was not advised. The shorelines have opened and the ice that
remains on area lakes is not in good shape. Open water should be
very noticeable by this weekend.

Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle (320) 763-3255

ANNANDALE AREA

Ice fishing is no longer an option and open water has become
quite noticeable throughout the area. Look to the channels and
northern bays on lakes such as Clearwater, Sugar, Sylvia, and Cedar
to start producing crappies very soon in shallow water. Look for
areas that offer some moving water.

Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297

BATTLE LAKE

As of Tuesday morning, ice fishing was still an option on some
lakes although few anglers continue to do so. The shorelines are
starting to open and with some rain and warm temperatures, open
water fishing may be an option within the next week.

Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596

BEMIDJI AREA

You could still find a lake with ice in good enough shape to
fish through earlier this week. But with any rain, wind, or
sunshine throughout the week the ice fishing season will end and
open water options will soon will follow.

Bluewater Bait and Sports (218) 444-BAIT (2248)

Kobilka’s Sporting Goods (218) 751-6000

BLACKDUCK AREA

ATVs were being used on most lakes earlier this week and panfish
action remained consistent on Pimushe Lake, Blackduck Lake,
Rabideau Lake, and Gilstead Lake. That could change by the weekend
as many shorelines have started pulling away. Ice conditions are
reported as “day-to-day” so call before venturing north.

Timberline Sports and Tackle (218) 835-4636

BRAINERD/NISSWA AREA

Most anglers now are thinking about open water, which has made
an appearance on many lakes. Look to the harbors, docks, and bays
on most small lakes to start producing crappies within the next
week if the sun stays out.

S & W Bait & Tackle (218) 829-7010

CASS LAKE AREA

Walking or ATVs are now the best option for travel. The east and
west sides of Cass Lake are producing perch in four to six feet of
water. The shallow, sand and grass flats of Pike Bay Lake are
kicking out perch as well. Most anglers are sight-fishing in order
to prevent small fish from biting. Grace Lake remains the area’s
best bet for bluegills along the 12-foot weed edges.

Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831

CHISAGO AREA

This area is “between seasons” as most shorelines have opened.
Main lake ice remains, but it’s floating and black so it’s expected
to go out very soon. Look for crappies to be moving into their
spring locations within the next week.

Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334

CROSBY AREA

While a few people continued to walk on area lakes this week,
ice conditions were quickly deteriorating. If this area receives
any measurable rain or a few days of warm weather lakes will no
longer be accessible by this weekend.

Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle (218) 546-6912

DETROIT LAKES

Heavy rains last week ended the ice fishing season. Travel of
any kind is no longer advised on area lakes. Complete ice-out could
take place by next week, which is about one week earlier than most
years.

Dick Beardsley’s Guide Service www.fishingscene.com

DULUTH AREA

A few small crappies continue to be caught on Comstock Lake, but
the ice fishing season is coming to an end. Most shorelines have
started opening and most anglers are waiting for open water. Shore
fishermen on Lake Superior are catching quite a few Kamloops on
nightcrawlers.

Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094

EAST-CENTRAL MINN

Open water fishing soon will be an option as ice deteriorates
quickly. Last weekend’s rain and wind put an end to any thoughts of
ice fishing this area. With a few more days of warm weather or any
additional rain, most lakes should be wide open.

Tails and Trails Sport Shop (763) 856-3985

FAIRMONT AREA

The ice is completely gone in this area, although open water
action has yet to develop for panfish. There are some walleyes and
perch being caught from shore across the border in Iowa on Tuttle
Lake.

Master Sport and Bait (507) 235-5225

FARIBAULT AREA

There’s still some ice, but not enough to walk on. The
shorelines have pulled away and ice-out is expected by next week.
Work the northern bays and shorelines for crappies as soon as the
ice goes out.

Lake’s Bait and Tackle (507) 334-2768

GRAND RAPIDS AREA

Ice fishing remains an option – probably through this weekend.
The south end of Bowstring Lake is kicking out perch and crappies
in 20 to 24 feet of water. Poole’s Bay and Tioga Bay on Lake
Pokegama are producing sunfish and crappies in 10 to 12 feet of
water. Bluegills and crappies also remain active on Bass Lake in 10
to 14 feet of water.

Ben’s Bait and Tackle (218) 326-8281

Rapids Tackle (218) 326-9838

HACKENSACK AREA

Planks are being used to access most lakes. Ten Mile Lake
started producing sunfish and crappies are biting at Birch Lake.
Call before heading up this weekend, because ice conditions have
been getting poorer by the day.

Swanson’s Bait and Tackle (218) 675-6176

HUTCHINSON

Most lakes aren’t accessible and the majority of anglers are
waiting for open water, which should be an option by this weekend.
This week’s warm weather and rain is expected to eliminate the ice
that remains.

The Outpost (320) 587-8177

LAKE KABETOGAMA

The snow is gone and shorelines have begun to open due to heavy
rains last weekend. While ice fishing remained an option as of
Tuesday morning, caution is advised. Additional rain or warm
weather should turn most anglers’ thoughts to open water.

Gateway Store (218) 875-2121 www.gatewaygeneral.com

LAKE OSAKIS

A few anglers were “sneaking” on the ice earlier this week. It
was not advised due to open shorelines and poor ice conditions on
the main lake. Fishing open water should be an option within the
next week to 10 days.

Fisherman’s Corner (320) 859-2181

MANKATO AREA

Ice continues to float on some lakes, while others are
completely open. This area is expected to be ice-free by the
weekend so look for crappies to move shallow and begin to be caught
by shoreline anglers soon.

The Bobber Shop (507) 625-8228

McGREGOR AREA

As of Tuesday morning, ice fishing was still an option.
Tullibees were hitting grass shrimp on Big Sandy Lake over 30 feet
of water. Crappie action remained strong on Lake Minnewawa in 12
feet of water. The shorelines have started to pull away so walking
may be the only option by this weekend.

Willey’s Sport Shop (218) 426-3382

MONTICELLO AREA

Ice fishing is no longer an option and a few anglers have begun
checking the traditional spring crappie spots with no success. The
Mississippi River is producing numbers of catfish on nightcrawlers
and large minnows.

Shuman’s Outdoor Sports (763) 295-3222

ORTONVILLE AREA

Open water has started to be more noticeable than ice. The
shorelines on Big Stone Lake have busted open and the ice that
remains is not in good shape. A few more days of warm weather or
one more heavy rain should open most area lakes.

Bud’s Bait (320) 839-2480

PARK RAPIDS AREA

Anglers continue to walk out on several lakes and they might get
one more weekend of ice fishing – depending on this week’s weather.
Look to Straight Lake and Fish Hook Lake in 12 feet of water for
bluegills. Big Mantrap Lake and the Crow Wing Chain of Lakes are
the area’s best options for crappies in 20 feet of water.

Delaney’s (218) 732-4281

RED LAKE

Ice conditions were favorable for fishing on Upper Red Lake as
of Tuesday morning. The best crappie bite was taking place during
lowlight periods of the day about one mile out from Mort’s Landing
on the south shore. Make a phone call before heading up because
additional rain or warm weather could put a quick end to the ice
fishing season here.

Dr. Tackle Sports (218) 647-8657

RED WING AREA

Sauger action remains strong from the High Bridge to the dam on
the Mississippi River. Most of the saugers are coming from 18 to 30
feet of water, while walleyes are shallower and shoreline related.
Three-way rigs and Rapalas have started producing fish, but hair
jigs or plastic jigs tipped with minnows continue to work as
well.

Ike’s Bait and Tackle (651) 388-2111

ST. CLOUD AREA

The ice fishing season has come to an end. Open water developed
quickly on many lakes, while on others, ice continues to float and
break up more each day. A few anglers have begun fishing from shore
with no success for panfish as of this writing.

Corky’s Gas & Bait (320) 251-1567

SAUK CENTRE AREA

Most lakes are “about half open” and the ice that remains is
going fast. Shoreline anglers have begun fishing their spring
crappie locations and have yet to find any fish. With a few days of
sunshine, the local crappie bite should improve.

Fletcher’s Bait (320) 352-2155

STARBUCK AREA

There’s still floating ice on the main sections of most lakes.
Many of the bays and harbors have opened and they should start
holding panfish with a few days of warm weather. The Starbuck
Marina on Lake Minnewaska, (one of the first spots to produce
panfish each spring) opened last weekend, so look for it to be the
first spot to produce a few crappies.

Minnewaska Bait and Tackle (320) 239-2239

STILLWATER AREA

The St. Croix River is wide open and producing a few crappies.
Most of the fish are being found near docks or along shorelines.
There isn’t much ice left on area lakes, either. The entire area is
expected to be ice-free by this weekend.

Jimmy’s Bait and Tackle (651) 430-2554

WILLMAR AREA

There’s still ice on area lakes, but not enough to get on. Some
of the bays and channels have opened, paving the way for crappie
anglers to start fishing from shore. Those that are checking these
areas have yet to find crappies.

Brad’s 71 Bait and Sports (320) 235-4097

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