Report from the Dock
Surprisangly, ice conditions have improved or stayed about the same through this week’s nice weather. With very little, or no snow on top of the ice, it seems to be getting cold enough at night for ice to keep getting thicker. This is mainly across the northern half of the state, but some ice is developing in the central part of the state as well. Generally, ice depths haven’t improved a lot, but there wasn’t much ice being lost, either. Upper Red Lake remains the main draw, but it’s likely that fishing activity is going to pick up on Lake of the Woods by this weekend as well. Unless it gets really warm mid-week, you should be able to find ice thick enough to walk on north of Brainerd and some ATV use the father north you go. South of Brainerd, ice conditions remain sketchy and this week’s warm up likely will limit some fishing options that may have already existed. Use the contacts in this report for ice fishing options heading into this weekend, continue to use caution and check the ice as you go, especially the farther south you’re at.
LAKE MILLE LACS
Ice comes and goes on the main lake and it hasn’t been cold enough to keep main lake ice intact. There is ice in the bays and a ways out along some shorelines. A few anglers have started walking on these areas, but fishing options remain limited.
Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811
Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
Ice is thickening and making progress. With safety in mind, resorts have been checking ice thickness, ice conditions, cracks, and in some cases starting to mark trails. Each resort fishes a different part of the lake with varying ice conditions and will make the decision when ice fishing can begin. Some areas have decent ice, other areas still need more time. Ice fishing will begin this week for some resorts and not for others, it is important to check with each resort as to when they will start fishing, what is allowed on their ice trail (ATV’s, snowmobiles, etc), and if they have fish houses to rent or only a marked trail.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau (800) 382-FISH
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
The big part of Lake Minnetonka and most other large lakes are wide open. Some small lakes or small bays are capped with about 2 inches of ice, but there wasn’t enough to walk on early this week.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
Parts of Pike Bay have as much as 6 inches of ice and Big Bay is completley ice-capped and some anglers have started walking out of the McKinely Park access. Look for walleyes in this area, the mouth of Pike Bay, and Birch Island area over 18 to 20 feet.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
The entire lake is capped with 8 inches of ice close to shore and about 5 inches the farther out you travel. Some spear houses have started being set in the Third River area, while perch and walleye anglers are just starting to venture out.
Walker Bay was mostly open early this week. There is 2 to 3 inches of ice in spots on the main lake, but also areas with thin ice and open water so even foot travel is not advised, especially with the warmer weather this week. Anglers are walking on many of the area’s small lakes where up to 5 inches of ice is being found.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company
The main basin still only has a couple inches of ice. Some bays have 3 to 6 inches of ice and some fishing close to shore could begin soon. This week’s warmer weather will likely prevent ice depths from improving much.
RainyDaze Guide Service
Walleye action has been best in 8 to 11 feet or 12 to 14 feet – the key is to get away from the crowds if possible. The bite was a bit slower of late, likely due to all the traffic and pressure the lake is receiving. As much as 8 to 10 inches of ice has developed and some resorts and access points have started allowing ATVs to be used, but check with them before venturing out and stick to their roads and areas they want you to fish.
West Wind Resort (218) 647-8998
JRs Corner Access (320) 290-3838
Twin Cities Metro
Everything is ice-covered and there were some anglers venturing onto a few lakes last weekend with about 3 inches of ice being found. This week’s warmer weather likely won’t improve ice conditions at all, so it’s going to be at least another week or so before walkable ice again develops on these lakes.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
Ice remains very limited to a thin layer on some bays and shoreline areas. Extreme caution is advised and even foot travel is not suggested after this week’s warm weather.
Prior Lake Bait & Tackle
Anglers are walking on the north side of Reno Lake and catching a mixed bag of panfish and a few walleyes in 16 feet. Some small lakes are seeing foot traffic as well, but 3 to 4 inches of ice is about all people are finding on these small bodies of water. The large lakes such as Carlos, Miltona, and Ida still had open water early this week.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle
Lake conditions vary with open water still being seen on some lakes and 1 to 3 inches of ice on others. Basically, anglers have just started checking ice depths on area lakes so fishing reports have been nonexistent.
Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297
BATTLE LAKE AREA
Most bays have 6 to 8 inches of ice, while the small lakes have 3 to 6 inches, and pockets of open water are still being seen on others. Sunfish and some crappies are being caught in 8 to 10 feet in the bays on Fish Lake, Buchanan Lake, and east side of Rush Lake. Walleye and northern pike reports continue to be limited, but many of the “good spots” aren’t yet accessible.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
Ice continues to slowly develop and with no snow, the ice in place is inn pretty good shape. Most area lakes have 6 to 8 inches, other than Lake Bemidji, which could be walkable by the weekend. Look to Lake Irving early in the day and late afternoon/evening for some walleyes and perch. Grace Lake is also kicking out some walleyes early and late in the day, while Gull Lake is a good bet for a mix of crappies and bluegills.
Dick Beardsley Guide Service
You can now walk on all area lakes with a minimum of 3 inches of ice on most and up to 8 inches on some of those that froze earliest. Look to Blackduck Lake and Island Lake for perch and walleyes in 7 to 12 feet.
Timberline Sports and Tackle
CASS LAKE AREA
People are finding 4 to 6 inches of ice on most lakes. Anglers walking on the south end of Cass Lake and Pike Bay Lake are catching perch in 8 feet. Move deeper, 12 to 18 feet, towards dark on both lakes and you’ll catch walleyes. Look to Midge Lake and Grace Lake for crappies along their 10- to 12-foot weedlines.
Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831
There’s now a thin layer of ice on all lakes, but it wasn’t thick enough to walk on early this week. It’s going to take several days of cold air before ice depths firm up enough to allow some of those small, shallow lakes to be walked on.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
Foot travel is now an option on area lakes with 3 to 6 inches of ice being found. Serpent Lake and Rabbit Lake are giving up a few walleyes during low-light periods in 14 to 18 feet. Hit Big Mahnomen Lake and Black Hoof Lake in 15 to 20 feet, or Little Black Hoof Lake in 9 to 13 feet for crappies. Northern pike action has been strong on the shallow weedlines of most lakes.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle
DETROIT LAKES AREA
Most lakes being fished have 5 to 6 inches of ice and even though all lakes are now capped, ice depths have not improved much this week. As a result, you need to really check conditions, especially on those lakes of any size.Fishing reports have been limited to some sunfish off Little Detroit Lake and northern pike on Lake Sallie in less than 12 feet.
Quality Bait and Tackle
Hit Boulder Lake in 8 feet and Rice Lake in 6 feet with setlines and shiner minnows for walleyes. Fish Lake is giving up crappies over 12 feet during the evening hours. You’ll find 6 inches of good ice on area lakes with walking out an option area wide and ATVs are being used on a few lakes.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
EAST CENTRAL MN
Local lakes are now capped with ice, which is an improvement from last week, but ice depths remain sketchy. A few anglers did walk on a couple of small lakes last weekend, but it is not advised after this week’s warm weather.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop
There’s 4 to 7 inches of really good ice and four wheelers are starting to bee used on some lakes. Northern pike are being caught in less than 10 feet at the mouth of the bays on Birch Lake, White Iron Lake, and South Farm Lake. Look for crappies in 15 to 25 feet on Birch, White Iron, and Basswood Lake. A few walleyes are hitting at night in 18 to 23 feet on Shagawa Lake and Birch.
Arrowhead Outdoors (218) 365-5358
Anglers just starting walking on some bays and small lakes with 3 to 5 inches of ice being found. The big lakes or lakes with any depth still have very thin ice. The few people venturing out are mostly fishing for panfish and pike, but success has been limited.
Redding Sports and Spirits
Ice was starting to take hold on the small ponds and some lakes, but this week’s warm weather has deteriorated it. Basically, there’s to much shoreline ice to fish open water and not nearly enough to consider walking on.
Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225
Anglers are fishing from shore with a jig and minnow below the dams on the Cannon River with a few walleyes and perch are being caught. Even though most lakes are now capped, it’s a thin layer of ice, and conditions are not expected to improve this week with the warmer weather.
John’s Bait & Tackle (507) 332-6787
FERGUS FALLS AREA
Anglers are walking on 3 to 5 inches of ice on most small lakes and bays. Crappies and sunfish are being caught on Pleasant Lake, Fish Lake, and Norway Lake in 12 to 15 feet. Look for walleyes on Pelican Lake in 8 to 15 feet and Orwell Reservoir is giving up walleyes and crappies in 14 to 18 feet.
Little Chief Outpost
GRAND MARAIS AREA
Most small lakes and bays have 4 to 8 inches of ice and anglers are walking on many of these areas. Walleyes are being caught on McFarland Lake in 17 to 20 feet and Cascade Lake in 9 to 11 feet – spoons and setlines with shiner minnows are both working.
Buck’s Hardware (218) 387-2280
GRAND RAPIDS/DEER RIVER AREA
The small lakes and bays have 4 to 6 inches of ice, while there’s thinner ice on the deep lakes. Big Cutfoot Sioux Lake started producing crappies and northern pike. Hit Bowstring Lake in 20 to 22 feet for crappies or 12 to 14 feet for perch and walleyes.
Fred’s Live Bait (218) 246-8710
GREY EAGLE AREA
You’ll find pockets of open water on the deep lakes, but most lakes have 3 to 4 inches of ice. Perch are being caught out from the access on St. Mary’s Lake and Pine Lake is giving up crappies out from the access as well. Anglers have just started checking ice conditions so fishing reports have been limited.
Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405
Ice depths vary from 2 to 7 inches and anglers have started walking on some small lakes and bays. There was still pockets of open water on several big, deep lakes early this week. Reports have been limited to a few northern pike and panfish coming off those small lakes with better ice conditions.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle
The calm winds and cool nights did Kabetogama some good as it is mostly locked up as far as you can see. A few spearing shacks have popped up near Sphunge Island and the Tom Cod area on 6 inches of ice. Cracks are showing up with more frequency in areas that had ice before the snow, as well as plenty of slush and water around them. There is a distinct line of ice with snow on it and bare ice. The area west of a line from Cutover to Harris and down to Sphunge had ice before the snow, which is not ideal for ice making. East of that line, the ice is clear and snow free. Travel is not advised anywhere on the main lake.
Gateway Store (218) 875-2121
The nice daytime temperatures have allowed good numbers of trout anglers to get out. Around Forestville, trout are taking midges on the south branch of the Root River. Trout fishing also has been good within the city limits of Lanesboro and Preston with small nymphs.
Root River Rod Company
Most small- to medium-size lakes have 3 to 5 inches of ice and although all lakes are capped, thin ice remains on the large bodies of water. Anglers are walking on the channel of Big Boy Lake and the back bay on Girl Lake and catching a mixed bag of panfish.
The One Stop (218) 363-2252
Early this week, ice depths on Big Stone Lake at Meadowbrook, County Rd 68-Ben Hines, and Schmidt’s Landing were a consistent 3 1/2 inches about 10 to 50 yards from shore. The ice in these areas is clear and smooth. There is some open areas, mostly south of the islands and some open areas due to the geese. There is also a few ice heaves and cracks to keep an eye on.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
There’s still some open water on the big lakes, but the small lakes and bays are all ice-covered with 3 to 4 inches of ice in most areas. Anglers are walking on a few lakes such as Lower Twin and Potato, but fishing reports remain light.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors
Most lakes have 3 to 5 inches of ice and with the exception of some current areas, everything is now ice-covered. Big Pine Lake, Little Pine Lake, and Rush Lake are producing walleyes in 10 to 24 feet on shiner minnows or spoons. Look for crappies and bluegills in 12 to 15 feet on Dead Lake, Rush and many of the area’s small lakes. Tip-ups and sucker minnows are turning northern pike on many lakes in 8 to 15 feet.
Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355
RED WING AREA
Sauger and walleyes continue to be caught below the dam on the Mississippi River. Saugers are hitting best during the day in 15 to 20 feet on a jig tipped with minnows or plastics. Walleye action is best late in the day along the shorelines with blade baits or a jig and plastics. The bays have a thin layer of ice and some anglers are standing on the docks in Baypoint Park and catching panfish from them.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA
Most lakes are capped with 2 to 3 inches of ice. While some foot traffic has started on a few lakes close to shore, it is no longer advised after this week’s warm weather.
Channel Marine and Sports
SAUK CENTRE AREA
Ice depths vary from 2 to 5 inches and everything is now capped. Anglers continue to be limited on where they can go, and even though ice depths haven’t improved much, foot travel has started on a few lakes. There is an evening walleye bite on McCormick Lake in 8 feet of water.
Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155
STAPLES/LITTLE FALLS AREA
The small, shallow lakes have 3 to 5 inches of ice, but there’s still spots with very thin ice or open water on some big lakes. Anglers are walking on Thoroughfare Bay on Lake Alexander and catching a few crappies and walleyes during low-light periods.
Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056
Anglers are finding 3 to 5 inches of ice on the spots they’re fishing, but depths vary, so use caution. Pomme de Terre Lake is producing crappies and a few walleyes in 7 feet, while Lake Emily is giving up some walleyes in 3 to 4 feet. On Lake Minnewaska, anglers are walking out near Priest Point, the DNR headquarters, and the Glenwood end, but fishing reports off it have been light.
Minnewaska Bait and Tackle
Anglers are reporting 3 to 5 inches of ice on the small, shallow lakes and they are walkimg on those. The large lakes still have spots of open water or a thin layer of ice. Foot Lake is producing crappies in 12 to 15 feet and Point Lake is kicking out sunfish and northern pike in 12 feet.
J&J Hwy. 71 Bait and Tackle
Ice conditions remain questionable, but most lakes are now capped with 1 to 3 inches of ice. There were still pockets of water on some lakes early this week. Anglers have been walking on a few lakes such as Lac qui Parle, Goose, School Grove, and Shetek, but not going out far from shore.
Borch’s Sporting Goods