Minnesota Outdoor News Fishing Report — March 31, 2017
LAKE MILLE LACS
Main lake ice continues to hold, but many shorelines and access points are now busted loose. Fishing pressure was light again this week, limited to a few people looking for panfish in the bays. With the warm weather this week, it’ll be tough to be fishing on them by the weekend.
Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811
Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
Main lake ice is good in some areas, but bad in others where current or springs exist. All resorts are closed to vehicle traffic, while others are allowing ATV travel – call ahead to see if fishing ice is an option this weekend. The big northern pike have really started being caught with tip-ups in the back bays and on shallow reefs. Rainy River fishing is on and going well. The river is open all the way to Wheeler’s Point with Birchdale, Frontier, Vidas, and Timbermill accesses open to any size boat. Many eating-sized walleyes are being taken with some big fish in the mix. A half to three-quarter ounce jig tipped with shiners are working and sturgeon are biting as well.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau (800) 382-FISH
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
The lakes are all open, some have been ice-free for a couple of weeks, but the spring crappie bite hasn’t started. Right now, look for crappies in 8 to 15 feet and those fish will move into the channels and bays as water temperatures continue to climb.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
Although some shorelines are starting to open, main lake ice remains strong enough for ATV use and that should continue through this weekend – watch out for thin ice in any current or spring area.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
Accesses, public and private, are now shut down due to deteriorating ice conditions around them. Even though the lake is ice covered, resorts have shut down for the winter so fishing pressure has been minimal.
Ice conditions are changing fast with the top layer reported as soft, but plenty of good ice underneath it. Some shorelines have started to bust loose and with the warm weather this week, it might be best to call ahead for up-to-the-minute ice conditions heading into this weekend. There were people fishing off Stoney Point early in the week for tullibees and others in Shingobee Bay for panfish. But again, that could change by this weekend.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company (218) 547-2250
Although there’s still ice on the main lake, anglers are now fishing open water on the Rainy River. The ramps in International Falls have been cleared and the Pat Roche Access, adjacent to the Voyageurs National Park Headquarters, provides access above the dam and below Ranier Rapids.
International Falls CVB (800) 325-5766
Ice continues to hold and there’s been minimal impact on the shorelines at this point. With that stated, fishing pressure has been almost non-existent despite the good ice.
Mort’s Dock (218) 647-8128
Twin Cities Metro
The lakes are open and a few anglers have started looking for panfish with limited success. The few being caught are coming from deeper water with no push of crappies into the shallows reported as of Tuesday morning.
Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle (651) 777-2421
The ice is now completely gone and anglers are starting to hit many of those traditional spring crappie spots. Successful reports have been limited from shore anglers, but anglers in boats are catching some crappies in Waconia Bay on Lake Waconia in 10 to 12 feet.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
There’s more ice on the big lakes than small lakes, but any ice that remains is rotten and floating and expected to be gone soon. A few anglers started fishing from shore for panfish, but the crappies have not moved into the shallows.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle (320) 763-3255
With the ice now gone, it’s time to start looking to the shallow channels, bays, and boat harbors for crappies. A few people have started venturing out on open water, but as of Tuesday morning, the bite has been slow.
Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297
BATTLE LAKE AREA
A handful of people were walking out last weekend on some lakes, but the shorelines are pulling away and the ice is getting soft. It’s tough to make a call on if that will be an option this weekend, so call ahead before venturing out.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
With the shorelines starting to bust loose and main lake ice getting soft, the winter fishing season is coming to an end. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll still be able to walk on the lakes here this weekend, but that’s weather dependent, so call ahead.
Taber’s Bait (218) 751-5781
The shorelines on area lakes were still intact early this week and even if it stays warm, ATVs or walking should remain an option on many lakes this weekend, but call ahead. Look to Pimushe Lake for bluegills in 10 to 15 feet, Gull Lake for crappies over 20 feet, and to Island Lake for perch in 10 feet.
Timberline Sports and Tackle (218) 835-4636
The shorelines are open and the remaining ice looks black – it’s expected to go out fast. Most harbors and channels are open as well so start looking for those spots to hold crappies soon.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010
CASS LAKE AREA
Ice conditions vary from lake to lake and there hasn’t been a lot of people fishing. For the most part, main lake ice is good on the bigger lakes if you can find a shoreline area that allows you to access it. The only bite worth noting is coming off the shallow, sand/grass areas on the southwest end of Cass Lake for perch.
Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831
The lakes are open, but the panfish bite hasn’t kicked in at this point. Anglers are starting to fish some of the traditional early spring locations for crappies, and this will improve as water temperatures continue to climb.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
The ice is peeling away quickly from the shorelines and accesses so the winter fishing season has come to an end here. Although ice was still covering area lakes early this week, it was black and soft. Anglers are between seasons, waiting for open water opportunities to begin and that could happen quickly with some rain or warm weather.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle (218) 546-6912
The ice that remains is black and the shores are opening, so it’s no longer safe to ice fish this area. On Lake Superior, small boats are being utilized close to shore where anglers are catching coho salmon and Kamloops in the top 20 feet of the water column. Trolling small stickbaits and spoons has worked best. Other fishermen are catching Kamloops from shore near the French River on wax worms and Looper Bugs, spawn sacs, and nightcrawlers.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
EAST CENTRAL MN
The entire area is ice-free so start looking for panfish to begin moving into shallow, spring spots as water temperatures climb. There has been some decent reports off the Mississippi River for a mixed bag of fish.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop (763) 856-3985
The accesses and shorelines on most lakes have now deteriorated enough that people can no longer get on the ice. The ice that remains is black, soft, and showing definite signs that it’s going to go out quick if it stays warm.
Redding Sports and Spirits (218) 763-2191
Open water fishing has started and anglers have started working the channels and bays for crappies, which hadn’t shown up early this week. The Iowa side of the West Des Moines River was producing some small walleyes on minnows.
Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225
The lakes are ice-free and some open water fishing has started. Reports have been minimal so far, but some small crappies and sunfish are being caught on the Cannon River.
Nagel’s Live Bait (507) 334-8341
GRAND RAPIDS AREA
Ice conditions continue to be pretty good and ATVs should be a safe option for at least one more weekend. With that stated, fishing pressure has been pretty light, but the people still going are catching fish. Crappies continue to be caught on Bowstring Lake in 20 to 22 feet, Middle Pigeon Lake in 17 to 20 feet, and in Tioga Bay on Lake Pokegama in 15 to 20 feet. Look for sunfish on Bass Lake in 6 to 10 feet.
Ben’s Bait and Tackle (218) 326-8281
There were quite a few ice fishing options last weekend, but with the warm weather and sun throughout the week, it’s uncertain what will remain this weekend. Many accesses have busted open and anglers reported that main lake ice has thinned and become soft. Call ahead before venturing to this area over the weekend.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle (218) 675-6176
There’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a lake to fish this weekend, but plan on walking out or using ATVs if the shorelines remain intact. Like many areas in the northern half of the state, it’s probably a good idea to call ahead because lake conditions will have deteriorated with the warm weather this week.
The One Stop (218) 363-2252
MADISON LAKE AREA
Anglers in boats are catching crappies on the east end of Lake Francis in 10 to 15 feet. Crappies also are biting at the Buckmaster Bridge on Madison Lake and at the culvert between Middle and Little Jefferson lakes.
Corner Bait (507) 243-4464
There was still some ice floating on a few lakes early in the week, but it’s expected to be gone by this weekend. There hasn’t been any open water reports yet, although the bays and channels should start holding crappies soon if it stays warm.
Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop (320) 679-2151
The small lakes and sloughs are ice-free and it’s possible there might be a bit of lingering ice on the north end of Big Stone Lake. But as of Tuesday morning, Big Stone was wide open from Ortonville to beyond Lakeshore RV Park.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
With the exception of “one or two” people sneaking out early this week, most ice fishing options have come to an end. The shorelines pulled away and any ice that remains is soft. If you plan on fishing this area over the weekend, call ahead. It might not be an option.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors (218) 237-5099
Most lakes still have quite a bit of ice on them, but the shorelines have started to open and the ice that remains is black and deteriorating fast. There’s a good chance the ice will be gone within the next week if it stays warm.
Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355
RED WING AREA
The Mississippi River was giving up more sauger than walleyes early in the week. A jig and minnow, plastics, and crankbaits were producing fish along the current breaks in 10 to 15 feet from the Head of the Lakes to the dam. The sauger are typically a little bit deeper than the walleyes. On Tuesday, water temperatures were about 40 degrees on the river, so be ready for those bigger walleyes to start biting when it hits 45 degrees.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA
Look to the culverts and shallow bays to start holding panfish within the next week if it stays warm. Until then, you’ll find crappies staging outside these areas on many lakes throughout the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes.
Channel Marine and Sports (320) 597-5975
A few lakes still had ice, but it was going out fast. Call ahead if you plan to ice fish here. Lake Minnewaska for example is ice-free and some anglers have started fishing the bays and marinas on it for panfish. The bite is slow, but will pick up as these shallow areas warm.
Minnewaska Bait and Tackle (320) 239-2239
Anglers are starting to fish open water, mainly from shore and they are catching a few sunfish and crappies. Look to the shallow shorelines and bays, culverts, and creeks mouths to be the first spots to hold fish. Lakes such as Elkhorn, Nest, West Norway, and Florida are good places to get started.
Brad’s 71 Bait and Sports (320) 235-4097
People are just starting to fish those traditional, early-spring spots for crappies and perch. Earlier this week, the bite was still slow, but with nice weather expected to continue, many shallow areas should start producing fish.
Borch’s Sporting Goods (507) 532-4880