Report From The Dock
It got cold enough over the past week to freeze much of the slush that was limiting where people could get to. Lakes across the state still aren’t in the best condition, but there was a lot more fishing activity this week than last. In some areas, trucks have even started being used, roads are being plowed, and bigger wheel houses have started to be pulled out. Watch the weather this weekend – there’s more snow in the forecast and that could once again create sloppy lake conditions. A word of advice here: if you do have enough ice to drive a vehicle on, continue to drive slow, especially where roads have been plowed. While ice depths have improved, they are not where they should be this time of year and driving fast will push water under the ice and that can cause issues. With more people venturing out and more lakes to fish, reports of success also have improved. Walleye action was probably as good this past week as it has been all winter in many areas, especially during low-light periods. Panfish and northern pike seem to be biting as well.
LAKE MILLE LACS
East– Lake conditions have improved quite a bit since last week and resorts have had the opportunity to start developing better road systems on most areas of the lake. Check with them, but it’s likely many resorts will start allowing trucks and larger wheel houses out this weekend. Walleye reports during the day have been best in 25 feet or more, while there’s a more consistent bite during the evening hours on shallow and deep structure. Deadsticks and small sucker minnows are out-producing jigging spoons or aggressive jigging techniques.
Johnson’s Portside(320) 676-3811
West– You’ll find over 13 inches of ice in areas, but it’s layered with some good ice and some that’s not the most firm. While some trucks are being used out of select resorts, ATVs and snowmobiles allow you to go anywhere on the lake. The walleye bite has been hit and miss with jigging spoons or deadsticks and small sucker minnows both producing fish in St. Alban’s Bay during the day in 20 feet or more and over 12 to 14 feet during the evening hours. You’ll also catch walleyes on top of the mud flats during low-light periods and off the edges or away from the flats in 25 feet or more during the day.
Terry’s Boat Harbor(320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
Ice conditions are excellent and fishing has been up and down with cold fronts. There’s been plenty of fish to eat, some trophy walleyes, big sturgeon, some jumbo perch, an occasional pike, tullibee and plenty of sauger in the mix. Most anglers are fishing 25 to 30 feet on structure or 30 to 36 over mud. On the Rainy River, there is some snowmobile traffic on the marked trail – the current has dropped some, but still strong. At the Northwest Angle, good fishing continues with a mix of walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, pike, and eelpout. Snowmobile trails from the south end to the Angle are groomed and in good shape.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau (800) 382-FISH
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
The small bays on Lake Minnetonka are kicking out crappies and sunfish in 20 to 24 feet, while some walleyes are being caught after sunset over 18 to 24 feet with deadsticks and minnows. Tip-ups and sucker minnows are producing northern pike in 14 to 18 feet on Minnetonka and on Medicine Lake in 14 feet. Hit Lake Independence for crappies over 26 to 30 feet and Lake Sarah for a mixed bag of panfish in 18 feet.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
Anglers continue to deal with slush off any plowed roads and continue to use snowmobiles or track vehicles, but trucks are being used to pull houses in Big Bay. The morning hours remain productive for walleyes on the reefs or flats in 20 to 23 feet. The 20- to 24-foot breaks outside of Pike Bay are giving up walleyes in 20 to 25 feet. Northern pike are being taken in most bays over 10 to 12 feet.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
There’s 15 inches of ice on the main lake, but less in areas along the shore so resorts continue to be limited with plowing options. There’s also 12 to 24 inches of snow across the lake making snowmobiles the only way people are getting out. There is a little bit of flooding when holes are drilled, but our cold weather has been freezing existing water, making snowmobile travel easier. Perch fishing has been good on the shoreline breaks and main lake structure and some walleyes continue to be caught on the humps and bars early and late each. Bring a snowmobile and contact resorts for access availability.
Lake conditions have improved – a bit. There’s still quite a bit of slush throughout Walker Bay and main lake areas. Track vehicles remain the best travel option in Walker Bay where some walleyes are being caught during low-light periods on the 20- to 30-foot humps or 15- to 18-foot shoreline breaks. There are some roads plowed out of Trapper’s Landing on the south end, but you’ll want to check with them on availability heading into this weekend.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company (218) 547-2250
The ice road to Sand Bay is open and folks with portable gear are getting out along the staked snowmobile trails. However, the National Park Service ice road heading east on Rainy Lake is not yet open, as of press time. Those that are getting out are finding walleyes in 25 to 30 feet. Jigging with live bait has been working best, and if it’s early in the day or cloudy, a brighter color will generally attract more attention. The area around Birch Point is popular for walleye and crappie, while Black Bay has been producing northern pike. There is sufficient ice in areas, but also areas with current where the ice remains unsafe.
International Falls CVB (800) 325-5766
Walleye reports have been mixed with some groups doing well and others marking very few fish – typical January fishing. The night bite has improved and the key seems to be down-sizing jigs and using deadsticks with minnows in 11 to 14 feet. Lake conditions continue to improve, there’s still some issues with flooding, but more roads are being opened.
Mort’s On Upper Red (218) 647-8128
JR’s Corner Access (320) 290-3838
Twin Cities Metro
Crappies remain suspended and active over 22 to 25 feet on Big Carnelian Lake. Tip-ups and sucker minnows are turning northern pike in less than 10 feet at Demontreville Lake, Olson Lake, and White Bear Lake. Shiner minnows and deadsticks are producing walleyes in 20 to 25 feet on White Bear and the Bayport area of the St. Croix River. Anglers are reporting 12 to 14 inches of ice on the lakes being fished.
Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle (651) 777-2421
Crappies are hitting on Wasserman Lake in 14 feet and Whaletail Lake in 12 feet early and late each day. Sunfish action also has picked up in 8 to 10 feet on most lakes. Northern pike are being taken with tip-ups and sucker minnows in 12 feet on Auburn Lake and Zumbra Lake. You’ll now find 12 to 15 inches on area lakes.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
Sunfish remain active on Center Reef, Pillsbury Reef, the south weedline in Wagener’s Bay, and north side of Waconia Bay in 11 to 13 feet. Crappies and some walleyes are being caught after dark with deadsticks and minnows on Center and Pillsbury in 11 to 15 feet. Vehicles are now allowed to be used through the marina to the areas being fished.
Mase’s In Towne Marina (952) 442-2096
The north side of Lake Geneva and Lake Le Homme Dieu are giving up walleyes and crappies in 16 to 18 feet. Work Lake Ida for walleyes in 20 to 25 feet as well. Reno Lake continues to give up northern pike, crappies, and a few walleyes in 16 to 18 feet. Geneva, Le Homme Dieu, and Lake Carlos are safe bets for sunfish in 6 to 12 feet. Lake conditions have improved enough that ATVs can now be used on most lakes.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle (320) 763-3255
A few walleyes are being taken with spoons during the evening hours in 18 to 26 feet on Buffalo Lake, Clearwater Lake, Lake Sylvia, Pleasant Lake, and Sugar Lake. Look for suspended crappies over 20 to 40 feet on Clearwater, Moses Lake, Lake Sylvia, Granite Lake, Lake John, and Rock Lake. Granite, John, Rock, Maple Lake, and Lake Marie are giving up sunfish in 12 to 18 feet. Vehicles have started being used on some lakes, but ATVs are the best option.
Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297
BATTLE LAKE AREA
Walleyes are being caught at West Battle Lake in 35 to 40 feet and Otter Tail Lake in 15 to 20 feet. Clitherall Lake, Ellingson Lake, and Walker Lake are kicking out a mixed bag of panfish over 23 to 25 feet. Ice depths vary from 8 to 15 inches and there’s still slush on area lakes. Trucks are being used on West Battle (stay on the roads) and ATVs are the best option on the other lakes.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
Things were firming up on area lakes just a bit, but another 5 inches of snow fell Monday night and there’s more expected for this weekend. If you can get to the right areas on Lake Bemidji, you’ll catch some walleyes on jigging spoons and minnow heads in 28 to 32 feet. The problem is getting out. Vehicle traffic is a no go, snowmobiles are a possibility, but you really need to be aware that you could hit some major slush. There just aren’t many folks out on area lakes.
Dick Beardsley Guide Service (218) 556-7172
The area’s lakes remain nearly impossible to travel on due to deep snow and slush. Even walking out requires a lot of work with all the slush, so fishing action has been limited. There’s a limited road system on Blackduck Lake, but it’s difficult getting off the plowed areas, and some perch are being caught in 9 to 12 feet.
Timberline Sports and Tackle (218) 835-4636
Walleyes are being taken with spoons and minnow heads in 18 to 28 feet on Gull Lake or North Long Lake and Pelican Lake in 20 to 40 feet. Sucker minnows are turning northern pike on Lake Edwards, Gull, and Pelican in 10 to 14 feet, while crappies are hitting in 12 to 14 feet on North Long, Gull, and Nisswa Lake. Ice conditions have improved, the slush is now limited and trucks have started being used on most lakes.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010
CASS LAKE AREA
There’s still quite a bit of slush, but it has improved some since last week, so snowmobiles are the best travel option on most lakes. Hit Allen’s Bay or the Stoney Point area of Cass Lake for perch on the 6- to 8-foot sand and some walleyes in 18 to 20 feet. Pike Bay Lake also is producing perch in less than 8 feet during the day and a few walleyes in 10 to 18 feet during low-light windows. Work Lower Sucker Lake and Welch Lake in 10 to 12 feet for crappies during the evening hours.
Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831
The 8- to 12-foot weeds are producing panfish and northern pike on the south end of Chisago Lake, the channel between Chisago and South Lindstrom Lake, the “roadbed” on South Lindstrom , and North Lindstrom Lake. A few walleyes are being taken during low-light periods in 8 to 15 feet at Green Lake, South Center Lake, North Center Lake, and Chisago. Most reports indicate 10 to 15 inches of ice on area lakes.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
Hit Serpent Lake with deadsticks and minnows for walleyes in 25 to 30 feet and northern pike on the 8- to 12-foot weeds or bars. Bay Lake started producing crappies in 17 feet, as is Clearwater Lake over 35 feet or more. Look to Milford Lake in 17 to 25 feet and Big Mahnomen Lake in 10 to 14 feet for sunfish. Ice depths have improved and the slush has mostly froze, so some vehicle use has started on a few lakes.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle (218) 546-6912
DETROIT LAKES AREA
The slush has diminished and roads have started to be opened on some small lakes, but ATVs or snowmobiles are still the best travel options. Crappies are most active early and late each day on Little Floyd Lake, Deadshot Bay, and Lake Melissa in 13 to 18 feet. Look for sunfish on Little Detroit Lake, Big Floyd Lake, and Height of Land Lake in 13 to 15 feet. Lake Sallie and Big Detroit Lake are safe bets for walleyes in 18 to 22 feet during low-light periods.
Quality Bait and Tackle (218) 844-2248
Area lakes remain slushy with varying layers of ice, so snowmobiles or track vehicles are the best travel options. Northern pike are being taken with tip-ups and small sucker minnows on Rice Lake in 5 feet. Look for crappies in 14 feet from the “crappie village” to the dam on Fish Lake. A few walleyes on are being taken on spoons at Boulder Lake in 10 feet and the Duluth Harbor in 6 to 10 feet.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
EAST CENTRAL MN
Crappies are being caught during low-light periods on Blue Lake, Eagle Lake, and Green Lake in 14 feet. Deadsticks and fathead minnows are turning walleyes on Blue, Little Elk Lake, Briggs Lake and Lake Julia in 10 to 15 feet. Tip-ups and sucker minnows are the ticket for northern pike on Fremont Lake, Ann Lake, and Little Elk in 7 feet. ATVs and some light trucks are being used on area lakes.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop (763) 856-3985
Walleye action is strong with a shiner and setline on Shagwa Lake in 16 to 20 feet. Look for suspended crappies on Everett Lake and Bass Lake over 20 to 30 feet. Brook trout are being caught in less than 10 feet on Alruss Lake with small jigs and waxworms or plastics, while Basswood Lake is kicking out lake trout in 30 feet or more and northern pike at the mouth of most shallow bays. The slush has mostly froze so travel conditions have improved.
Arrowhead Outdoors (218) 365-5358
Ice conditions have improved and trucks are now being used on most lakes. Yellow bass and crappies are being caught in 15 to 20 feet at Hall Lake, Budd Lake, and Sisseton Lake. Hit Cedar Lake with sucker minnows in less than 6 feet for northern pike or Tuttle Lake for walleyes during low-light periods in 4 to 6 feet.
Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225
Bigger fish houses have started being pulled out with 10 to 12 inches of ice being found on most lakes. Bluegills continue to hit at Cedar Lake in 16 to 18 feet and French Lake is kicking out a few crappies over 30 feet or more. Look to Roberds Lake for perch in 12 to 15 feet, but walleye and northern pike reports have been light.
John’s Bait & Tackle (507) 332-6787
FERGUS FALLS AREA
There’s still slush on most lakes, but conditions have improved enough that more fish houses are being pulled out. Jewett Lake is producing crappies and a few walleyes during low-light periods in 20 to 30 feet. Look to Orwell Reservoir for crappies and an occasional walleye in 12 to 16 feet. Northern pike are being found on the 12- to 16-foot weedlines of Swan Lake, while Wall Lake is giving up sunfish and crappies in 12 to 15 feet.
Little Chief Outpost (218) 998-5050
GRAND MARAIS AREA
Poplar Lake is giving up some walleyes in 12 to 15 feet, as is Elbow Lake in 5 feet, on setlines and fathead minnows. Lake trout are hitting sucker minnows or smelt on Daniels Lake in 25 to 30 feet and smelt at Duncan Lake in 30 to 34 feet. The snow continues to pile up in this area and slush has become a bigger issue on most lakes.
Buck’s Hardware (218) 387-2280
GRAND RAPIDS/DEER RIVER AREA
The problematic slush has froze quite a bit, so getting around with snowmobiles is easier, but fishing pressure continues to be light. A few walleyes are coming off Deer Lake during the evening hours in 28 feet. There’s also been some limited action on Bowstring Lake and Big Cutfoot Sioux Lake for crappies, but success has been limited.
Fred’s Live Bait (218) 246-8710
GREY EAGLE AREA
Walleye action has picked up on the south end of Big Birch Lake in 22 to 25 feet. Hunter’s Bay on Big Birch continues to produce panfish and northern pike in 8 to 15 feet, while Pine Lake started giving up crappies over 15 to 18 feet. The north end of Big Swan Lake is producing sunfish and crappies in 18 to 20 feet and Lady Lake is kicking out sunfish in front of the access over 18 feet. ATVs are being used on all lakes and a few trucks have started being used on some.
Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405
Little Birch Lake, Mule Lake, and the north side of Pleasant Lake are giving up sunfish during the day and crappies during low-light periods in 15 to 20 feet. Walleye and northern pike action is slow, while fishing pressure remains light due to deep snow and slush issues on area lakes.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle (218) 675-6176
Fishing has been extremely inconsistent, anglers are marking fish, but the bite is slow. When walleyes are active, they’re coming from 18 to 35 feet on reef edges, shoreline points or deeper water over soft bottom areas. Bigger walleyes still seem to be the majority of fish caught with a few smaller ones as well as the occasional perch and northern pike mixed in. Many anglers report water coming up and flooding areas around their house after drilling holes. Lake travel is not advised with the exception of snowmobiles and track machines.
Gateway Store(218) 875-2121
MADISON LAKE AREA
Madison Lake is giving up bluegills in East Bay, crappies and bluegills around Church Bar in 12 to 16 feet, a few walleyes south of the Narrows in 18 to 20 feet, and crappies over 20 to 22 feet. Work the area south of the access on West Jefferson Lake for crappies in 15 to 20 feet. On Lake Washington, walleyes are being caught off Squirrel’s Nest Point in 16 to 20 feet, crappies are hitting in 18 to 22 feet on Third Point towards Grassy Island, and northern pike are taking sucker minnows in 8 to 12 feet between Second and Third points. Trucks are being used on area lakes.
Corner Bait (507) 243-4464
Most lakes now have at least 12 inches of ice and vehicle traffic has started on most. Sunfish and crappies remain active on Ann Lake, Knife Lake, Fish Lake, and Quamba Lake in less than 10 feet. Walleye and northern pike action continues to be limited.
Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop (320) 679-2151
There is now some vehicles with houses driving out on Big Stone Lake, with 15 to 18 inches of ice in most areas, and the slush appears to be froze on most of the lake. The perch bite continues to be good in 13 feet, but you’ll have to sort through some small fish and there has been some nice bluegills mixed in.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
Walleyes continue to be taken with deadsticks and shiner minnows, but a spoon seems to draw them in on Potato Lake in 18 to 20 feet. Hit Fish Hook Lake for crappies and walleyes in 20 to 24 feet and the deep basin areas of Fourth Crow Wing Lake for bluegills. The slush isn’t as bad on most lakes, but snowmobiles or ATVs with tracks are your best means of moving around.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors (218) 237-5099
RED WING AREA
Ice conditions have improved enough on Lake Pepin to allow anglers to walk on it. The Maiden Rock area is producing walleyes and the Baypoint area has been best for panfish. Tip-ups and sucker minnows are turning northern pike over 6 feet at Frontenac Pond and there’s been minimal boat traffic on the river.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA
Walleye action has been pretty good on Rice Lake, Lake Koronis, Horseshoe Lake, and Cedar Island Lake from 10 to 20 feet – look shallower during low-light periods. Sunfish are going in 10 to 16 feet and crappies are being found suspended over 20 feet or more on Cedar Island, Rice, Horseshoe, and Becker Lake. Northern pike are being taken in 10 to 14 feet on Grand Lake and Pearl Lake, while channel catfish are being found suspended over the deep holes throughout the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes. ATVs are a safe option on all lakes, while some truck traffic has started on a few.
Channel Marine and Sports (320) 597-5975
SAUK CENTRE AREA
The north end of Lake Osakis is producing sunfish and some crappies in 20 to 23 feet, but freshwater shrimp are turning bigger fish. Look to Fairy Lake in 9 to 13 feet or Lily Lake in 16 to 28 feet for a mixed bag of panfish as well. Brassy shiner minnows are the ticket for walleyes and crappies on Sauk Lake in 20 feet or so. Vehicles are now being used on area lakes.
Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155
STAPLES/LITTLE FALLS AREA
Ice depths vary from 8 to 12 inches, but the slush has firmed up so anglers are getting around with ATVs on most lakes. Lake Alexander started producing a few walleyes and crappies during low-light periods in 15 to 20 feet. Hit Nokasippi Lake for a mixed bag of panfish in 12 feet or so, Bass Lake for northern pike and sunfish, or Sullivan Lake for crappies in 15 to 22 feet.
Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056
Deadsticks and shiner minnows are turning walleyes during the evening hours off Priest Point and in front of the high school on Lake Minnewaska in 18 to 20 feet. Shiners also are turning walleyes on Long Lake near Cyrus during low-light periods in 14 feet. Get away from the crowds and you’ll catch sunfish on the Glenwood end of Minnewaska in 14 to 16 feet. Ice conditions are good and trucks are being used.
Minnewaska Bait and Tackle (320) 239-2239
Hit Eagle Lake and Nest Lake for crappies during the evening hours in 12 to 15 feet. On Lake Minnetoga, crappies, walleyes, and perch are hitting in less than 10 feet. Foot Lake is producing walleyes in 12 to 15 feet, while Diamond Lake and Point Lake are giving up crappies in 14 to 20 feet. Vehicle traffic has started on many lakes.
J&J Hwy. 71 Bait and Tackle (320) 235-4097
Trucks are now being used on area lakes, but the bite on most have been less consistent. Look to Bloody Lake for perch and crappies in 12 feet, Lake Shetek for perch, walleyes, and crappies in 6 to 11 feet, or perch in 6 to 10 feet on Lake Sarah. East Twin Lake is producing some walleyes in 10 to 14 feet and West Twin Lake is kicking out a few perch in 6 to 8 feet.
Borch’s Sporting Goods (507) 532-4880