Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Minnesota Fishing Report – December 4, 2020

Report from the Dock

There was a definite uptick in ice fishing action across the northern part of the state since last week. It got cold enough on Sunday and Monday night to button up most open water that remained in the northern half of the state. Yes, there’s still pockets of open water on many large, deep lakes, but anglers have started walking out with some level of comfort in a lot of locations north and west of Brainerd. Look to those small, shallow lakes – many of those traditional first ice spots to be ready for foot travel heading into this weekend. As always, check the ice as you go and know the lake you’re venturing onto this time of year. It is still early and ice conditions can change a lot for the good and bad at this point. Call ahead, use the phone numbers provided in this report for up to the minute ice conditions, and use caution as you head out this time of year.

Great Eight


Ice has taken hold in the bays and much of the main lake skimmed with ice on Monday night. If the wind stays down and stays somewhat cold, there could be some close-to-shore fishing opportunities in a few spots soon. The bays have thicker ice, and there could be some increased, but limited foot travel beginning on those spots that froze first.

Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811

Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430



This past week saw some strong winds blow ice around the basin, eating up some of the thinner ice that had formed. The forecast looks promising to lock things up in the very near future.  Resorts are monitoring ice conditions on Four Mile Bay, Zippel Bay and various areas of the shoreline. It’s important to wait until they say it’s good to go and stay on their marked trails when it is time. there is some spearing and angling for pike in the back bays. The Rainy River is covered in most places with a layer of ice. With the border closure, Northwest Angle Resorts and community have pulled together and will have an ice road up to the Angle so anglers can access resorts.  The Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road ice access will be on the south end at Springsteel Resort.

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



The small bays and shorelines have some ice, but there was still a lot of open water early this week throughout the area. Basically, there isn’t enough ice to consider getting on and too much to put a boat in.

Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227



While there is still a few spots with open water, mainly current or deep, main lake areas, the bays and much of the lake is ice-covered. Spots within Pike Bay had up to 4 inches of ice early this week, so while there might be some foot traffic by this weekend, ice depths vary and you need to check it as you go.

Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430



The entire lake is now ice-covered with main lake areas capping over Sunday night. The spots that had ice prior to that and remained covered had up to 5 inches of ice early this week. Look for fishing and spearing options to develop soon along the shorelines.

Lake Winnie Resort Association                    



The small bays and shorelines are capped and building ice. As of Tuesday morning, much of Walker Bay and the main lake still had open water. Anglers have started walking and fishing on some of the area’s small lakes with 4 to 6 inches of ice reported on many of them.

Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505

Shriver’s Bait Company

(218) 547-2250



With ice starting to form, there should be walk out options to some fishing locations late this week. Ice has started to build nicely in several bays, but it’s going to take a couple more weeks of cold, calm weather before accessing main basin structure is an option.

RainyDaze Guide Service

(218) 290-6102



There’s a lot going on here with the ice, but if you work through a resort and go only where they tell you to, you should be fine. Depending on the area, 5 to 7 inches of ice was being found this week, but there are cracks and open water spots worth noting – again, work through a resort. Anglers were walking out early this week, but ATVs might be allowed out of some locations this weekend, just call ahead, most should know by mid-week. Walleye reports have been best in 7 to 10 feet early in the day and JR’s crossed the breaker on Monday out to 14 feet of water – use the staked trails. Setlines and jigging spoons are borth working, although setlines have been a bit more productive. Go where you can and get away from the crowds as much as it’s allowed. Those away from the masses are having little problem catching walleyes.

West Wind Resort (218) 647-8998

JR’s Corner Access (320) 290-3838

Twin Cities Metro


A thin layer of ice formed on some small lakes Monday night, but the majority of lakes in this area were still ice-free early this week. With the exception of a few anglers fishing open water on the rivers, it’s been quiet on the fishing front.

Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle

(651) 777-2421



A few anglers continue to fish from shore in the channels on a couple of lakes and the area rivers. The lakes were mostly wide open, with the exception of some shoreline ice or skim ice on the bays early this week.

Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022



With the exception of some pond and limited shoreline ice, area lakes remained ice-free early this week. Some ice forms overnight, but much of it is gone by days end. 

Prior Lake Bait & Tackle

(952) 447-6096



Some small lakes and bays have up to 4 inches of ice and there has been foot traffic on a few, but fishing success has been light. As of Tuesday morning, pockets of water remained on the big, deep lakes. Generally, people are just starting to walk on a few lakes and checking ice conditions as they go, but there should be spots on some lakes to fish this weekend. Although hunter reports have been light, there seems to be a lot of people muzzloader hunting.

Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle

(320) 763-3255



You’ll still find areas of open water on some big lakes, but most lakes capped with ice on Sunday and Monday night. There wasn’t enough to walk on early this week, but that could change over the next week to 10 days, just check ice conditions as you go and hit those shallow, traditional early ice spots that have been capped the longest if you do venture out and check lake conditions.

Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297



With the exception of Otter Tail Lake, Eagle Lake, and West Battle Lake, which still had pockets of open water, area lakes are now ice-covered. A few anglers have started walking out on the east end of Rush Lake, Buchanan Lake, and the narrows on Pelican Lake. These options just started early this week, so fishing reports have been light. Muzzleloader success has been limited as well.

Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596



Lake Bemidji buttoned up on Monday night, as have all larger lakes in the area. But none of the larger lakes are walkable yet. Most of the small to medium size lakes have 4 to 6 inches of ice, but use extreme caution when venturing out. With no snow on the ice, make sure you have ice cleats on your boots. Midge Lake is kicking out some crappies and bluegills, while Lake Irving is a good bet for walleyes and perch right now. 

Dick Beardsley Guide Service

(218) 556-7172



Local lakes are now locked tight with 2 to 6 inches of ice. Anglers are walking on most and there is some limited ATV use on a few smaller lakes – you need to check the ice as you go. Angler success has been limited, although Blackduck Lake is producing walleyes and perch in 7 to 10 feet. Participation was high for the muzzleloader opener, but there didn’t appear to be a lot of deer shot.

Timberline Sports and Tackle

(218) 835-4636



Anglers are finding 3 to 7 inches of ice on some small lakes and bays, but the big lakes still had spots with open water early this week. Foot travel has started on some of those lakes with thicker ice and a few sunfish and northern pike are being caught. There hasn’t been a lot of people out, although you should find lakes to walk on and fish this weekend.

S & W Bait & Guide Service/

Nisswa Guide League  (218) 829-7010



While it’s likely there’s still some areas with open water on the middle of the bigger lakes, ice has started to take hold along the shorelines, bays, and small lakes. As far as the eye could see, ice was covering the majority of lakes on Tuesday morning, so there could be some fishing options soon.

Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831              



The small lakes and bays just skimmed with ice early this week, while open water was still evident on the area’s larger bodies of water. The key now is to keep the wind down and if that happens, some of those spots that are covered should continue to build ice.

Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334



Every lake in the area is now ice capped and most small lakes have ice thick enough to walk on, but you need to continue checking ice depths as you go due to varying ice depths. Fishing reports have been light, with most anglers looking for northern pike or crappies. Muzzlelaoder success was limited opening weekend with some antlerless deer taken.

Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle

(218) 546-6912



Ice depths vary from spots with open water on some big lakes and up to 6 inches of ice on the small, shallow lakes. Anglers have started walking on several small lakes with limited success for sunfish and crappies. Walleye action has been limited as well.

Quality Bait and Tackle

(218) 844-2248



Ice conditions have improved and anglers have started walking on the small, shallow lakes. Some of the bigger lakes locked up last Sunday night so they have thinner ice, but 4 inches of ice was being found early this week on several small, shallow lakes that had been covered first. Angler success has been limited, but people are just starting to head out. Muzzlelaoder hunting reports have been light, with just a handful of deer brought in over opening weekend.

Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094



There was some limited ice taking hold, but last Sunday’s wind took care of it. With the exception of some shoreline ice, all local lakes were wide open on Tuesday morning.

Tales and Trails Sport Shop 

(763) 856-3985



Tip-ups and sucker minnows are producing northern pike in less than 12 feet of water at Birch Lake, White Iron Lake, and Robinson Lake. Walleyes are being caught in 15 to 20 feet on Shagawa Lake and the smaller lakes just south of town. You’ll find 3 to 7 inches of ice on area lakes and everything was ice-covered as of Tuesday mornong.

Arrowhead Outdoors (218) 365-5358



There might have been some small pockets of water on the big, deep lakes, but everything looked ice-covered on Tuesday morning. Anglers were just starting to venture out on a couple of small lakes and bays, but fishing reports remain limited.

Redding Sports and Spirits      

(218) 763-2191



A sheet of skim ice formed again Monday night on most lakes, but it comes and goes – caps overnight and disappears during the day with the wind and sunshine. Anglers were still doing some open water fishing from shore on Budd Lake and Sisseton Lake for crappies and yellow bass and the Blue Earth River for walleyes.

Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225



A skim of ice forms around the edges of local lakes overnight, but most of it goes away during the day. You could still get a boat on area lakes early this week. Anglers fishing from shore below the dams in town and at the bridge on the Cannon River are catching walleyes with a jig and minnow.

John’s Bait & Tackle (507) 332-6787



Some small ponds and lakes or “skinny” water areas are seeing limited foot traffic on 3 inches of ice or so. Most big lakes still had open water spots early this week and there hasn’t been a lot of fishing activity at this point. The muzzleloader season is going well with high participation and good numbers of deer being shot.

Little Chief Outpost

(218) 998-5050



While there were some pockets of open water and thin ice on the big lakes or over areas with deep water early this week, anglers have started to walk on several small, shallow lakes. Spear houses have even started being set on some lakes. People have just started venturing out so fishing reports were light early this week.

Fred’s Live Bait (218) 246-8710



With the exception of some shoreline ice, the big lakes are still open, while some small lakes and bays capped with ice on Monday night. There hasn’t been anyone fishing, but some of those small, shallow waters could be ready for foot traffic over the next week with the right weather conditions.

Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405



With the exception of the big lakes such as Woman and Ten Mile, ice has taken hold on most lakes. While there was already ice on some small lakes last week, most locked up Sunday or Monday night. Anglers were just starting to get out and check ice depths early this week and there should be some walkable ice on those small, shallow lakes by this weekend. The muzlelaoder season has been tough. Hunter success was pretty light during opening weekend.

Swanson’s Bait and Tackle

(218) 675-6176



There are still large areas of open water throughout the main lake, but some bays have 4 to 5 inches of ice close to shore and a bit less the farther out you go. If ice depths continue to improve, there’s a chance that some spear houses could be placed in areas such as Tom Cod Bay or other, traditional first ice spots.

Gateway Store (218) 875-2121



Anglers started venturing out on area lakes early this week and report varying ice depths. There was still open water spots on some large lakes, but the majority of lakes are now capped. It’s likely that there should be enough ice on many of the small, shallow lakes or bays by this weekend to walk on. Just know where you’re going and work those small bodies of water that capped earliest and stayed covered.

The One Stop (218) 363-2252



The lakes are now covered with a thin layer of ice, while thicker ice has formed on a few bays. A handful of anglers are walking on 3 to 4 inches of ice in these shallow bays fishing for pike or panfish, but early success has been limited.

Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop 

(320) 679-2151



Big Stone Lake capped with a layer of smooth ice on Sunday night. Although there is no fishable ice at this point, it appears to be headed in the right direction and if the wind stays down it has been getting cold enough at night to continue building ice.

Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480



The small lakes were covered with 1 to 3 inches of ice early this week, but the big, deep lakes still had pockets of open water. Anglers have started walking on the small lakes with some success for panfish. Muzzleloader hunting reports have been pretty good through the first week. Harvest seems strong and most people are seeing plenty of deer.

Delaney’s (218) 732-4281

Smokey Hills Outdoors 

(218) 237-5099



Anglers have started fishing on several small lakes or bays where up to 5 inches of ice is being found. Reports indicate that the panfish bite has started strong on these small lakes. The area’s large lakes just capped on Monday night, so it’s thin ice and likely still some pockets of open water. Muzzleloader hunters are doing well and many indicated that they are still seeing bucks chasing does.

Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355



Fishing remains good on the Mississippi River from the dam to Red Wing. The majority of fish being caught are saugers with some walleyes in the mix each evening. Blade baits, jigs tipped with minnows or plastics, and crankbaits are producing fish in 18 to 20 feet during the morning hours and deeper as the day wears on. The back bays and sloughs capped with ice Monday night.

Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334



While there were still boats on several lakes last weekend, it appears as though everything buttoned up with a layer of ice on Sunday night. There wasn’t enough ice to walk on early this week, but some areas could develop walkable ice within the next week to 10 days. 

Channel Marine and Sports

(320) 597-5975



Any remaining open water buttoned up early this week, so most lakes are now covered with a thin layer of ice. Look for some bays or small, shallow lakes to have enough ice to walk on soon. Just how quickly will depend on the weather throughout this week. Muzzleloader hunters are mostly shooting antlerless deer.

Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155



Anglers are finding 2 to 4 inches of ice on the small, shallow lakes and some foot travel has started on those. The big lakes still have marginal ice at best with areas of open water on anything with water depths of 20 feet or more.

Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056



Any open water that remained, appeared to have capped on Sunday night, even on the bigger bodies of water. A handful of anglers have been walking on a few small lakes and bays, those traditional first ice spots, so check those areas heading into this weekend. 

Minnewaska Bait and Tackle

(320) 239-2239



There was thin shoreline ice early this week on a few lakes, but everything was wide open as of Tuesday morning. There were still people fishing open water on Monday. Muzzlelaoder reports have been limited, although participation seemed high. Those still chasing rossters are seeing good numbers of birds as well.

Borch’s Sporting Goods 

(507) 532-4880

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