Report from the Dock
While there will be opportunities to get on, and fish through safe ice this weekend across parts of northern Minnesota, most ice fishing options have come to an end across the rest of the state. Ice conditions have deteriorated quickly in many areas with shorelines quickly pulling away and the ice on main lake areas looking rotten and soft. In certain areas, large stretches of open water were quite evident early this week and some lakes are now ice-free in many southern Minnesota locations. Open water fishing has started on a limited basis in some small bays or channels in the Twin Cities area. There’s also been some activity around culverts or other moving water areas by shore anglers, but crappie success has been limited, likely due to cold water. In addition, there have been a lot of bait shops forced to close temporarily due to the coronavirus situation, so make plans accordingly to get live bait. If you want to spend one last day on the ice, this weekend might be the last chance you have until next season.
LAKE MILLE LACS
With the exception of some very limited ice fishing activity in a couple of bays, there hasn’t been much activity on the lake. There’s still plenty of main lake ice, but many shorelines and most accesses have deteriorated since last week.
Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811
Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
Ice conditions are holding up, but there’s a very low amount of traffic due to the coronavirus situation. The few anglers out have been catching big northern pike, which is traditional this time of year along with some walleyes and sauger. The Rainy River is starting to open and a few local anglers with private access are getting on it and catching big walleyes. At the Northwest Angle, a few locals are still ice fishing and catching walleyes, sauger, jumbo perch and an occasional pike.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau (800) 382-FISH
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
The channels and some bays are ice-free on Lake Minnetonka, while main lake ice throughout the area is rotten and deteriorating quickly. Open water panfishing has started at a few spots on a limited basis, but success has been limited.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
Ice conditions remain favorable for those with ATVs that want get out to fish, but there hasn’t been enough people going out to gather up much of a report. It seems most anglers in this area are content to wait for the open water season.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
While shorelines, accesses and current areas have become compromised, there’s probably a chance to get on the lake this weekend, if you can find a spot to do so. With that stated, there has been very limited activity throughout the lake this past week.
Tullibee reports have been light, but perch anglers remain busy. Some of the bigger fish are being found on the 12- to 15-foot breaks, but start looking shallower, mainly in less than 8 feet of water. Sand Point, Cedar Point, Agency Bay, Sucker Bay, and just outside the narrows near GrandVu Flats are worth hitting. Some shoreline and access areas have started to pull away, but ATVs were being used this week.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company (218) 547-2250
The ice fishing season has lost its shine. Despite good enough ice to get out and fish, there just isn’t any interest to do so among local anglers.
International Falls CVB (800) 325-5766
There isn’t anything to report from the area. There hasn’t been enough people out to gain information and private accesses have been closed for more than a couple of weeks.
Mort’s On Upper Red (218) 647-8128
Twin Cities Metro
Main lake ice continues to deteriorate and seems to be going out fast on most lakes. With the exception of some activity on the Mississippi River, there hasn’t been anything to report.
Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle (651) 777-2421
This area is between seasons with open shorelines, open stretches of water, and rapidly deteriorating main lake ice that remains. With the right weather conditions, anglers could start hitting those early, spring crappie spots soon.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
Some anglers continued to walk on a few lakes early this week, but those options likely won’t be available by this weekend. Most shorelines have opened, accesses are beat up, and main lake ice is looking soft and rotten. Due to the coronavirus situation, the bait shop is temporarily closed as well.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle (320) 763-3255
The shorelines have opened far enough to prevent anglers from getting on area lakes. In addition, main lake ice is starting to look black and rotten on many lakes. It depends on the weather, but open water crappie fishing in the harbors, lagoons, and some small bays doesn’t appear to be far away.
Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297
BATTLE LAKE AREA
Sunfish and crappies are being found suspended over 10 to 15 feet on West Battle Lake, Clitherall Lake, Rush Lake, Walker Lake, and Star Lake. Look for tullibees over 30 to 45 feet on Clitherall, Mollie Stark Lake, and Star. Shoreline ice is deteriorating quickly, but main lake ice was looking good early this week. Anglers have been limited to walking out on the lakes being fished.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
There is still plenty of ice on area lakes, but the accesses are shot so getting onto the good ice is nearly impossible. With the stay-at-home order in place, there are very few folks even trying to get on the ice as well.
Dick Beardsley Guide Service (218) 556-7172
Perch continue to be caught at Round Lake, Blackduck Lake, and Island Lake in 5 to 10 feet. You’ll find bluegills and crappies on Pimushe Lake, Gull Lake, and Gilstead Lake in 10 to 15 feet. The accesses are starting to get beat up a bit, but snowmobiles or ATVs were being used on area lakes this week.
Timberline Sports and Tackle (218) 835-4636
A handful of people were walking out early this week, but the ice fishing season is pretty much over in this area. Most shorelines and accesses have now pulled away and some channels are showing more open water than ice.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010
CASS LAKE AREA
Fishing pressure has been limited, but those going are catching perch along LeRoy’s Bar on Pike Bay Lake and the humps in Allen’s Bay on Cass Lake in less than 8 feet – look for the sand/weed areas. Early this week, the accesses and shorelines were in good shape so the few anglers heading out were using ATVs.
Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831
Ice conditions are deteriorating quickly. The shorelines have pulled away and main lake ice is starting to shift and get rotten. Open water fishing likely isn’t far off – some people have been on the St. Croix River going after rough fish.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
Anglers were still getting on the ice early this week and catching panfish on some small lakes, but fishing pressure has dropped off. Many accesses are now beat up and shorelines have started to pull away. In addition, the bait shop will be closed through April 11 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle (218) 546-6912
DETROIT LAKES AREA
Ice conditions are changing with most shorelines and access areas deteriorating quickly. As a result, there hasn’t been much fishing activity on area lakes since last weekend, and the bait shop is now closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 situation.
Quality Bait and Tackle (218) 844-2248
The snow has melted off lakes, there’s a thin layer of soft ice, main ice is strong, and shorelines were intact early this week. Island Lake is producing crappies in 25 feet at sunset and after dark, while Fish Lake is giving up crappies and bluegills in 10 to 15 feet. On Lake Superior, anglers are putting boats in at Two Harbors or McQuade Landing and trolling crankbaits near the surface for coho salmon and brown trout. Anglers fishing from shore near the French River, Two Harbors, and Duluth Canal are hooking brown trout, cohos, and the occasional Kamloops trout with crawlers or spawn sacs.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
EAST CENTRAL MN
Ice conditions have been compromised enough to put an end to the ice fishing season. There was still quite a bit of main lake ice, but the shorelines have all opened enough to prevent anglers from getting on any lake.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop (763) 856-3985
Shorelines and main lake ice remain favorable for fishing and ATV use, but pressure has dropped off. The few anglers going out are catching panfish on the area’s small lakes with some fish still suspended over 20 feet or so and others showing up in shallow water. The bait shop will be closed through April 10 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Arrowhead Outdoors (218) 365-5358
Early this week, docks were being put in at several public accesses on local lakes. There have been anglers out in boats, but fishing success has been poor. Although the bait shop is closed, there is a self-serve bait option available here.
Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225
GRAND MARAIS AREA
South Fowl Lake, along the border, is producing walleyes in 7 to 12 feet on chubs and jigs. Perch have started being taken with waxworms on the west end of White Pine Lake in 6 feet. Ice conditions remain good, actually as good as they’ve been all season, with the slush gone and shorelines intact.
Buck’s Hardware (218) 387-2280
GREY EAGLE AREA
The shorelines have opened enough that getting on any lake is no longer an option. With the continued warm weather, wind or rain, main lake ice should continue to deteriorate quickly as well.
Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405
ATVs were being used early this week on most lakes, but depending on the weather, anglers could be forced to foot travel by this weekend. The shorelines have started to deteriorate rapidly, although main lake ice looked pretty good. Look to Birch Lake, Stoney Lake, and Moccasin Lake for crappies and bluegills in less than 10 feet.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle (218) 675-6176
There are some limited blue-wing olive hatches occurring on local streams, but trout seem to be keying on midges or streamers. Black colors have worked best on cloudy days, while white has been more productive if the sun is out. Streams were clear.
Root River Rod Company (507) 467-2101
Anglers are sight-fishing shallow water and catching bluegills in Lantern Bay on Woman Lake. The Government Point area on Woman is giving up perch in 10 feet. Hit Mule Lake for crappies in 8 to 10 feet or Big Boy Lake and Lake Inguadona for bluegills in 4 to 8 feet. Shorelines have deteriorated fast, so four-wheelers or walking out are best for travel – even side by sides might be too heavy to use by this weekend. The way shorelines and accesses looked early this week, this could be the last weekend you’ll get on most lakes in this area.
The One Stop (218) 363-2252
The shorelines have pulled away and main lake ice that remains looks soft and rotten. There also are pockets of open water starting to show in areas near run-off or moving water. Anglers are waiting for open water options to begin.
Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop (320) 679-2151
Big Stone Lake now has pockets or large stretches of open water and the shorelines have now pulled away quite a distance into the lake. The ice is going out fast, so keep in mind that the walleye season is now open year round, and that should be an option very soon.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
There should be some fishing options on area lakes this weekend, but ice conditions are deteriorating fast. Many shorelines have started to open and that seems to have limited the number of people fishing. In addition, the bait shop is now temporarily closed due to the state’s stay at home order.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors (218) 237-5099
RED WING AREA
Water levels were rising quickly on the Mississippi River early this week and could peak this weekend. That means that boat ramps could be closed as well. If you can get on it, walleyes are biting along most current seams and it doesn’t seem to matter the depth – just find a slack water area. Generally, Dubuque Rigs with plastics are turning big walleyes and minnows are producing more numbers of smaller fish.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
SAUK CENTRE AREA
The north end of Lake Osakis, just out from the north end bay, is giving up sunfish in 6 to 8 feet. You’ll also find sunfish biting on Fairy Lake in 8 to 12 feet, Lilly Lake in 18 to 25 feet, and Maple Lake in 8 to 10 feet. Anglers have been walking on these lakes, but with the shorelines starting to open, that might not be an option by this weekend.
Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155
Ice conditions are poor on local lakes with open shorelines, patches of open water, and black ice quite evident throughout the area. So while the ice fishing season has ended, some of those shallow marinas and smaller bays could start holding crappies soon.
Minnewaska Bait and Tackle (320) 239-2239
Any ice that remained early this week was looking soft and rotten. There are stretches of open water and the shorelines have pulled far away enough on many lakes that some open water fishing has started. Early this week, reports were limited and the store will be open during the week and closed on weekend’s.
Borch’s Sporting Goods (507) 532-4880