Report from the Dock
There must have been a lot of people on vacation over the past week because the lakes and bait shops have been busy. Improved ice conditions across the state are likely playing a part in that as well. With the exception of some areas in the Twin Cities metro and southern part of Minnesota, ATVs and snowmobiles are now being used with a higher level of confidence with a minimum of 8 inches of ice being found. There’s even been some trucks starting to show up on some lakes to the north where 12 to 14 inches of ice is now being reported. As always, know where you’re going and use the contacts in this report for current ice and lake conditions. With better ice, there’s also been more areas available to fish, so walleye and panfish reports have obviously improved as well. Anglers are simply catching better numbers of walleyes, especially early and late each day, with 15 to 20 feet of water being best in most areas. Crappies have bit better than bluegills with most now being found over deep, basin areas on most lakes.
LAKE MILLE LACS
East – Walleyes are being caught along the 18- to 20-foot breaks during the day. With a lack of fishing activity, there are plenty of walleyes being caught on the shallow reefs during the evening hours as well. Some pike are being caught in the south end bays, but not big numbers. The main lake has 8 to 10 inches of ice in spots – less in many areas, but you’ll find more in the south end bays.
Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811
West – The rock points, Garrison Bay, and St. Alban’s Bay are kicking out walleyes in 17 to 20 feet during the morning and evening hours – ATVs are being used in these areas. The first quarter mile from shore has 8 to 9 inches of ice, but there’s much less on the main lake. Activity on the mud flats has pretty much been nonexistent and you need to diligently check ice depths the farther you venture out.
Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
Walleyes and sauger are being caught most consistently in 23 to 27 feet along the south shore. Work gold or glow-red spoons with a minnow head on one line and a deadstick with minnows on another. On the Rainy River, walleyes are going best during the mornings and evenings, but ice depths vary so work through a resort. At the Northwest Angle, the border closure has meant resorts have pulled together and will have a guest ice road across the lake up to the Angle so people can drive to resorts. It will begin when ice conditions allow, most likely in early January.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau (800) 382-FISH
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
Look for sunfish in 8 to 12 feet during the day and crappies during low-light periods over 18 to 20 feet on Lake Minnetonka. Northern pike are being caught in 12 to 14 feet on tip ups and sucker minnows throughout Minnetonka as well. Medicine Lake is giving up sunfish and pike in 8 to 10 feet. You’ll still find skim ice in spots on the bigger lakes, but most bays have 4 to 7 inches. It is inconsistent ice depth so continue check it as you go.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
Walleye action has been best off the reef breaks over 18 to 25 feet out of the McKinley Park access. Jigging and setlines are both working early and late in the day. Stuntz Bay is producing pike in less than 10 feet, but most have been small. Snowmobile trails are staked across the lake and some trucks have started being used in the bays.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
There’s 10 to 12 inches of ice on the south end and ATVs are being used about two miles out. Walleye and perch are being caught on the 18- foot structure and Horseshoe Bar in 18 to 20 feet. Perch action also is strong on the flats in 12 to 14 feet, while pike are going off the bars in 16 to 18 feet. On the west shore, 11 to 13 inches of ice is being found. Walleyes continue to hit late in the day over 18 to 20 feet. Look for good numbers of perch and pike on the points and shoreline breaks along the west shore in 5 to 10 feet. Some bigger perch are being found on deeper structure as well.
Walker Bay had 4 to 6 inches of ice early this week, while some cracks and 8 to 11 inches of ice is being found on the main lake. Fishing activity remains light, but a few people are catching walleyes at night off Pipe Island and Olson’s Reef in 15 to 18 feet, Pine Island in 9 to 13 feet, and the shoreline breaks in Walker Bay. You have to sort through numbers of small perch, but Sand Point is producing some keepers in 7 to 10 feet.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company
Ice conditions have improved with a solid 5 to 7 inches in most areas and snowmobiles are being used. The walleye bite has picked up on the 26- to 35-foot mud. Larger walleyes and northern pike are being caught mid morning and later afternoon on Tikka Minos, and 1/8-ounce jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads. Rental houses are doing well with a variety of sized walleyes, pike and burbot being caught.
RainyDaze Guide Service
Fishing has been good for some and slow for others and getting away from the crowds continues to be the biggest key to success. There has been a definite up-tick in walleye activity to overnight hours, either by jigging glow spoons or deadsticks with minnows and glow hooks in 12 to 14 feet. A few cracks have started to show up in select areas, but resorts are working around those, so continue to work through them. Some trucks also are being used, but again, check with resorts on that option as well.
West Wind Resort (218) 647-8998
JR’s Corner Access (320) 290-3838
Twin Cities Metro
Shiner minnows are turning bass and pike on Demontreville Lake in 8 to 10 feet or Mud Lake in 6 to 8 feet. The Bayport area of the St. Croix River is giving up crappies early and late each day over 20 feet or more. Look to Tanners Lake for pike and sunfish in 8 to 10 feet. You’ll find 6 to 9 inches of ice on most lakes, but there are still spots with thin ice, so you can’t just go anywhere quite yet.
Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle
Crappies are going early and late each day on Wasserman Lake in 20 to 23 feet. Hit the north side of the deep hole on Lake Parley in 14 to 16 feet for sunfish during the day and crappies at night. The middle of Hydes Lake is giving up a mixed bag of panfish in 14 feet and Eagle Lake is kicking out crappies in 12 feet. Tip ups and sucker minnows are turning pike along the 10- to 12-weed edges on Lake Susan, Ann Lake, and Lake Minnewashta.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
Sunfish are being caught in the 10- to 12-foot weeds throughout Waconia Bay. You’ll pluck a few walleyes and crappies during low-light periods in 12 to 14 feet in Waconia Bay as well. There is 8 to 12 inches of ice throughout most of Waconia Bay. You’ll also hit spots with as little as 4 inches on parts of the main lake, so you need to check it as you go.
Mases In Towne Marina
Walleyes are hitting shiner minnows during low-light periods in 14 to 18 feet on Reno Lake and Lake Miltona. Crappies also have been most active early and late each day on Lake Mary and Lake Le Homme Dieu in 15 to 20 feet. Sunfish action has been limited, but Smith Lake is worth noting for pike in 12 to 14 feet. The spots people are fishing have 6 to 10 inches of ice, but most lakes also have areas with pockets of thin ice.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle
Crappies are being caught during the evening hours on Lake Francis, Lake John, Clearwater Lake, and Little Maple Lake in 15 to 30 feet. A few walleyes are coming off Clearwater, Big Swan Lake, and Buffalo Lake during low-light periods in 16 to 24 feet. Look for sunfish and northern pike on Lake Marie, John, Pleasant Lake, Granite Lake, Maple, and Clearwater in 10 to 20 feet. Ice depths continue to vary from 2 to 10 inches, so anglers are walking on some and using ATVs on others.
Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297
BATTLE LAKE AREA
Sunfish and crappies are being caught at Rush Lake, Buchanan Lake, and Marion Lake along the 10- to 15-foot weeds. Look for walleyes during low-light periods in 15 to 20 feet at Otter Tail Lake or 30 to 35 feet on West Battle Lake. Northern pike are being taken with sucker minnows on the 15- to 20-foot weed edges on Clitherall Lake, West Battle, and Otter Tail. ATVs are being used throughout the area on 8 to 12 inches of ice.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
Most lakes now have 12 or more inches of ice and there are vehicles out, but know where you’re going. Early morning and late afternoon/evening has been your best shot at catching walleyes. Some fish are coming off the 12- to 14-foot breaklines, but you’ll also find some on the deeper humps. Perch are also going in less than 10 feet, but some are on the deep humps as well. Look to Lake Bemidji, Lake Plantagenet, and Wolf Lake for walleyes and perch. You’ll find crappies and bluegills off the weed edges on Gull Lake and Beltrami Lake.
Dick Beardsley Guide Service
Crappies and bluegills are being caught on Gull Lake in 15 to 20 or Pimushe Lake and Rabideau Lake in 18 to 22 feet. Hit Round Lake, Blackduck Lake, and Island lake for walleyes during the evening hours in 15 to 20 feet. You’ll find 12 to 14 inches of ice throughout the area and trucks have started being used on some lakes.
Timberline Sports and Tackle
The middle portion of Gull Lake started producing walleyes in 14 to 16 feet. Walleyes also are going on North Long Lake in 15 to 22 feet, Pelican Lake in 24 feet, and Round Lake in 14 to 24 feet. Look for crappies on North Long, south end of Gull, and Nisswa Lake over 16 to 18 feet. Pike fishing has been strong on Lake Edward, North Long, and Gull in less than 10 feet. Sunfish reports have been best in 7 to 10 feet at Nisswa, North Long, and Middle Cullen Lake. The small lakes have 7 to 10 inches of ice, while depths on the big lakes such as Gull varies from 4 to 10 inches – ATVs are being used throughout the area.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/
Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010
CASS LAKE AREA
The 16- to 18-foot shoreline breaks on Cass Lake and Pike Bay Lake are producing perch and a few walleyes. Northern pike are being taken on the shallow weed edges of Lake Andrusia, Pike Bay, and Allen’s Bay on Cass. Hit Grace Lake for bluegills and crappies in 8 to 10 feet. You’ll find 12 to 14 inches of ice in the area’s people are fishing.
Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831
Walleyes are hitting during low-light periods on North Lindstrom Lake and the Pancake Island area of South Center Lake in 12 to 14 feet. The channel between Chisago Lake and Lindstrom continues to give up panfish and pike in 12 to 15 feet early and late each day. Hit the Road Bed area on South Lindstrom Lake for panfish or the south end of Chisago in 8 to 12 feet for pike, sunfish, and a few crappies. Anglers are reporting ice depths that vary from 4 to 7 inches.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
Walleyes are being caught on Serpent Lake and Nokay Lake in 22 to 28 feet during low-light periods. Northern pike are being taken with tip ups and sucker minnows on Serpent, Big Mahnomen Lake, and Bay Lake in 16 to 20 feet. Crappies are coming off Milford Lake in 17 to 26 feet or Upper Dean Lake over 15 to 22 feet. Hit June Lake for sunfish in 10 feet or Milford in 17 to 26 feet. ATVs are being used on area lakes with 8 to 12 inches of ice being reported.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle
DETROIT LAKES AREA
Big Floyd Lake, Little Floyd Lake, Little Detroit Lake, and Deadshot Bay are producing crappies in 15 to 20 feet and sunfish in 12 to 15 feet. Walleyes are hitting shiner minnows or glow spoons at night on Lake Sallie, Big Detroit, and Deadshot Bay over 20 to 25 feet. Most lakes are kicking out pike, but look for a few bigger fish off Sallie and Big Detroit in 15 to 18 feet. Ice conditions are good with 10 to 12 inches being found on area lakes.
Quality Bait and Tackle
Look for walleyes on Boulder Lake in 10 feet and crappies over 15 feet on Fish Lake during the evening hours. You’ll also find crappies over 30 to 35 feet on Island Lake. Sturgeon are being caught and released on the St. Louis River with chubs 8 to 10 feet, while Rice Lake is giving up pike and a few walleyes during the afternoon hours in 6 feet. Most lakes now have 12 inches of ice.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
EAST CENTRAL MN
Blue Lake, Green Lake, and Spectacle Lake are producing a mixed bag of panfish in 8 to 14 feet. Tip ups with sucker or shiner minnows are turning pike on Fremont Lake in 4 to 7 feet. A few walleyes are coming off Green and Little Elk Lake during the evening hours in 7 to 14 feet. ATVs are being used on most lakes with 6 to 9 inches of ice being found.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop
Hit Amber Lake early and late each day for crappies in 15 feet. Hall Lake and Budd Lake are producing yellow bass, perch, and crappies in 15 to 20 feet. Sisseton Lake is a safe bet for bluegills in 13 to 15 feet. It depends on the lake, but anglers are reporting 4 to 9 inches of ice and ATVs just started being used.
Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225
Cedar Lake is producing crappies, sunfish, and pike in 12 to 15 feet. Hit the bays on French Lake for crappies, but as more of the lake becomes accessible, they’ll start showing up suspended over its deep holes. The spots people are fishing have 7 to 10 inches of ice, but you’ll find areas that froze later with thin ice.
John’s Bait & Tackle (507) 332-6787
FERGUS FALLS AREA
Look for walleyes during the evening hours on Ten Mile Lake, Eagle Lake, and Jewett Lake in 15 to 21 feet. Crappies and sunfish are being caught over 12 to 20 feet at Norway Lake, Bass Lake, and Pleasant Lake. Northern pike reports have been strong on the 15-foot weedlines of Swan Lake and Wall Lake. Anglers are finding 8 to 12 inches of ice and using ATVs or snowmobiles on local lakes.
Little Chief Outpost
GRAND MARAIS AREA
Crescent Lake is giving up eating-size walleyes in 7 to 9 feet, as is Two Island Lake in 12 to 15 feet. On Saganaga Lake, walleyes are being caught in 21 to 23 feet – jigging spoons are working best on these lakes. Look for perch on Elbow Lake and White Pine Lake in 9 to 15 feet. Cascade Lake and Crescent are safe bets for pike in 7 to 9 feet. Most lakes have 12 to 14 inches of ice, but there is some slush starting to show on most small lakes.
Buck’s Hardware (218) 387-2280
GRAND RAPIDS/DEER RIVER AREA
There’s some evening walleye action on Big Cutfoot Sioux Lake in 12 to 16 feet. Look for crappies over the deep basin areas of Bowstring Lake in 25 feet or more. Look for good bluegill action on Little Cutfoot Sioux Lake and Bass Lake in 7 to 10 feet, while Lake Pokegama and Ball Club Lake are producing pike in less than 10 feet. ATVs and snowmobiles are now options on area lakes.
Fred’s Live Bait (218) 246-8710
GREY EAGLE AREA
Walleyes are being caught on Big Birch Lake during the evening hours in 20 feet. Anglers are just starting to hit the south end of Swan Lake for walleyes and pike in 12 to 18 feet and crappies on the north end over 25 to 28 feet. On Two Rivers Lake, crappies are being caught straight out from the access over 30 feet and St. Mary’s Lake is producing sunfish in 12 to 15 feet. You’ll still find spots on several lakes with thin ice, especially over deep water locations, but ATVs are being used on the lakes and spots people are fishing.
Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405
Big Portage Lake started giving up bluegills and a few crappies in 14 to 18 feet. You’ll find a mixed bag of panfish over 15 to 20 feet at Birch Lake and Pleasant Lake, while crappies remain active over 18 to 22 feet on Stoney Lake at night. Walleye reports remain limited, but pike are biting in less than 12 feet on most lakes. You’ll find 10 to 12 inches of ice on the small lakes and a bit less on portions of some bigger lakes.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle
Work the 8- foot weeds on Lake Inguadona for bluegills and the deep basin areas, 30 to 35 feet, on Boy Lake and Wabedo Lake for crappies during the evening hours. Walleyes are being taken with shiner or rainbow minnows on Woman Lake in 14 to 20 feet. Tip ups sucker minnows are producing pike on most lakes in less than 14 feet. Most lakes now have 9 to 12 inches and ATVs are being used across the area.
The One Stop (218) 363-2252
MADISON LAKE AREA
Ice depths vary from skim ice up to 8 inches on area lakes so you need to really watch where you’re going. Duck Lake is producing panfish and northern pike in 10 to 16 feet of water. Work just south of the access on West Jefferson Lake for a mixed bag of panfish in 8 to 15 feet of water. East Bay on Madison Lake has been kicking out a mixed bag of panfish as well.
Corner Bait (507) 243-4464
Sunfish and crappies are scattered, but being caught on Ann Lake, Knife Lake, Fish Lake, and Quamba Lake in 5 to 8 feet. Walleye and northern pike continue to be tough to find. ATVs are being used with a consistent 8 to 10 inches of ice on all area lakes.
Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop
There were still areas with 4 to 5 inches of ice on Big Stone Lake early this week. Other areas such as the Ben Hines access had up to 10 inches, so check it as you go. Anglers are reporting some good and some slow perch action. The best bite seems to be in 12 to 14 feet out of the Ben Hines area, but that will change as more of the lake becomes accessible.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
Look for walleyes to hit rattle spoons in 14 to 18 feet at Potato Lake and Fish Hook Lake during the evening hours. Crappies are being found suspended over 25 feet on the Crow Wing Chain or Long Lake over 18 to 22 feet. Spearing and angling for pike has been good in less than 12 feet on most lakes. Look for bluegills on Toad Lake in 15 to 18 feet or the Crow Wing Chain in 20 to 24 feet. You’ll find 8 to 12 inches of ice throughout the area.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors
Walleyes are hitting shiner minnows along the shoreline breaks at Big Pine Lake, Little Pine Lake, and Rush Lake in 15 to 22 feet Look for suspended crappies over 25 to 35 feet and sunfish in 7 to 12 feet on Walker Lake, Dead Lake, Star Lake, Big Pine, and Rush. Angling and spearing for pike has been good on most lakes in less than 10 feet. Anglers are finding a consistent 8 to 12 inches of ice.
Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355
RED WING AREA
The marinas and backwaters now have 8 to 10 inches of ice and they are producing perch, bluegills, and crappies in 8 to 10 feet. On the Mississippi River, jigs and plastics are turning saugers during the day in 20 to 24 feet and walleyes at night in 12 to 15 feet.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA
You have to sort through quite a few small walleyes, but some keeping-size fish are being caught on Lake Koronis in 20 to 26 feet, Horseshoe Lake in 14 to 20 feet, and Cedar Island Lake in 10 to 19 feet. Hit Rice Lake for crappies and an occasional walleye in 20 to 24 feet or Clear Lake for a mixed bag of panfish in 16 to 22 feet. Schneider Lake is producing sunfish during the day in 8 to 15 feet and a few crappies and walleyes at night in 16 to 22 feet. The deep holes on Horseshoe Lake are producing channel catfish. ATVs are being used on most lakes with 8 to 10 inches of ice being found on the spots people are fishing.
Channel Marine and Sports
SAUK CENTRE AREA
McCormick Lake continues to produce walleyes in 9 feet during low-light periods. Walleyes also are going throughout Sauk Lake during the evening hours, with bigger fish coming out of 20 to 24 feet on shiner minnows and glow hooks. Look for crappies on Long Bridge Lake in 14 to 17 feet and the deep holes on Big Birch Lake. The north end of Lake Osakis is kicking out northern pike in 12 feet and sunfish over 18 to 20 feet. You’ll find 11 to 13 inches of ice on area lakes.
Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155
STAPLES/LITTLE FALLS AREA
Shamineau Lake is producing crappies and a few walleyes during low-light periods in 18 to 22 feet. Thoroughfare Bay on Fish Trap Lake continues to kick out crappies in 12 feet at night, while Lake Beauty is giving up sunfish. Anglers are reporting 7 to 14 inches of ice with ATVs being used throughout the area.
Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056
Shiner minnows are producing walleyes on Lake Minnewaska during the late afternoon hours in 16 to 18 feet. Lake Emily is kicking out walleyes and northern pike in 5 feet, while numbers of small pike are an easy catch throughout Minnewaska in 10 to 18 feet. The Glenwood end of Minnewaska is giving up a few sunfish in 12 to 14 feet. Look to Steenerson Lake or Baby Lake (in the Glacial Lakes State Park) for walleyes in less than 10 feet. You’ll find 12 inches of ice on area lakes.
Minnewaska Bait and Tackle
Foot Lake is kicking out panfish and a few walleyes in 12 feet, while Norway Lake is a safe bet for crappies over 15 feet. Work the north end of Eagle Lake for crappies and a few keeping-size perch in 20 feet. Walleyes are going on Big Kandi Lake in 10 to 15 feet and Florida Lake is giving up pike in 10 feet. On Diamond Lake, northern pike are biting in 8 to 12 feet and crappies are hitting in 20 feet. ATVs are being used with 5 to 10 inches of ice on most lakes.
J&J Hwy. 71 Bait and Tackle
Hit Cottonwood Lake for perch in 5 to 7 feet or Lake Lac qui Parle for walleyes and a few crappies in 10 to 14 feet. The north end of Lake Shetek has been best for walleyes, but some are coming off lakes such as Sarah, Wood, Goose, and Dead Coon in 5 to 8 feet as well. Ice depths vary from 4 to 8 inches on all lakes.
Borch’s Sporting Goods