Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Minnesota Outdoor News Fishing Report – December 7, 2021

Ice conditions didn’t improve much in most areas over the past week. Generally, if people were getting on the ice in a given area last week, they still were early this week, and that’s mainly across some parts of northern Minnesota. Up to a foot of snow also fell last weekend throughout many of the areas that did have enough ice to walk on. As of Tuesday morning, there was quite a bit of uncertainity on the impact it would have on lake conditions as far as slush developing underneath it. The bottom line is that there’s going to be plenty of lakes to fish by this weekend, but expect better ice depths the farther north you travel. Some fishing has started at Lake of the Woods, resorts and outfitters are traveling farther out on Upper Red Lake, and ATVs are starting to be used in a few locations around Bemidji and areas to the north and east of it. Most lakes in the central and southern parts of the state are going to need at least another week before walkable ice forms.

Great Eight

LAKE MILLE LACS        

A large portion of the main lake froze Sunday night, but with pockets of open water and strong winds early this week, the ice that formed was compromised. The boat launching areas, bays, and shorelines continue to have a layer of ice covering them. The bays have been frozen for a few days. Some walking traffic expected on the bays this weekend, but work through a resort for latest conditions. A warm-up is expected this weekend,  which does not bode well for the ice. 

Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811

Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430

LAKE OF THE WOODS

Ice has covered most of the lake and in some areas, ice fishing has begun. Other parts of the lake need a bit more time, but things are moving along nicely. Work through your favorite resort or outfitter as ice thickness and conditions vary from one area to another. Some resorts are getting fish houses out and fishing began this week. This is only happening in areas with good ice that has been checked and marked. The initial word is that walleye fishing is very good. Spearing and tip-up fishing for pike in the back bays has been going well with a nice variety of eaters along with some trophy fish over 40 inches already taken. The Rainy River is ice-covered, but ice conditions vary. Pike, walleyes and sauger are being caught in areas where ice conditions allow – back bays and areas with low current that have been checked and marked. At the Northwest Angle, some snowmobile travel has been happening in marked areas with good ice conditions.

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

LAKE MINNETONKA AREA    

There was still open water on the big lakes Tuesday morning. It got cold enough Sunday and Monday, but strong winds didn’t allow most of them to lock up. There is ice on most small bodies of water, but it wasn’t thick enough to walk on this week. 

Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227

LAKE VERMILION

Pike Bay has 7 to 9 inches of ice, but other parts of the lake, including Big Bay have about 4 inches. There’s also 10 inches of new snow sitting on top of the ice, so there was some uncertainty early this week surrounding the impact the snow had with lake conditions. There hasn’t been any ice fishing activity as of press time.

Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430

LAKE WINNIBIGOSHISH

Some spearing had started, close to shore, in a couple of spots last week with about 4 inches of ice being found.  The main lake has limited ice and open water, so there hasn’t been much activity. In addition, 10 to 12 inches of snow fell here last weekend, so it likely had a negative impact on any ice that was in place.

Lake Winnie Resort Association                   

LEECH LAKE

This area received about 10 inches of snow last weekend. Most of the main lake is ice-covered and the majority of Walker Bay capped on Monday night, although pockets of water could be seen Tuesday morning. The few anglers venturing out on the small lakes were reporting 3 to 5 inches of ice before it snowed. There hasn’t been enough people out since the snow to know if it had a negative impact on the ice.

Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505

Shriver’s Bait Company

(218) 547-2250

RAINY LAKE     

With the heavy snow last weekend, any ice on the main basin sunk and is basically starting over. The limited ice that remained in the bays or along shorelines is not favorable for any type of travel.

RainyDaze Guide Service

(218) 290-6102

RED LAKE

While the area did receive some measurable snow, it was not enough to cause any issues with the ice. Ice depths continue to improve with 9 to 11 inches being found in most areas being fished and some resorts have started pulling out small wheel houses with ATVs and side by sides. The walleye bite has improved with consistently good reports coming from 7 to 8 feet, while others have moved out to 11 to 13 feet and found plenty of fish as well. Check with resorts and outfitters for travel and fish house options.

JR’s Corner Access (320) 290-3838

West Wind Resort (218) 647-8998

Twin Cities Metro

NORTHEAST METRO

Monday nights cold weather helped build ice on the small lakes that were already capped and also buttoned up the majority of water on the bigger bodies of water. There wasn’t enough to walk on early this week, but anglers have started checking a few of those traditional early ice spots with hopes that foot travel could begin soon.

Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle

(651) 777-2421

SOUTH METRO

Most lakes are ice-covered, but there isn’t enough of it to think about walking on. There are some pockets of open water on a few big lakes, but even the majority of those buttoned up on Monday night.

Prior Lake Bait & Tackle

(952) 447-6096

Statewide

ALEXANDRIA AREA

Anglers have started walking on some small, shallow lakes such as Reno and Little Mary with 4 to 5 inches of ice being found. Early reports indicate a few panfish being caught from these lakes. The big lakes or portions of area lakes that still had open water mostly capped with ice on Monday night.

Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle

(320) 763-3255

ANNANDALE AREA

There is some ice on the small lakes or portions of them, but there wasn’t enough to even think about walking on as of Tuesday morning. Strong winds throughout Monday actually eliminated much of the ice that did take hold on many small lakes and mostly reopened the bigger bodies of water. It’s going to take a string of cold, calm days before anglers can start walking out in this area.

Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297

BATTLE LAKE AREA

The small lakes and bays have about 4 inches of ice with some snow on top. The big lakes or portions of them capped with ice on Monday night, but most still had pockets of open water Tuesday morning. Anglers are walking on Walker Lake, the east side of Rush Lake, the bays of Fish Lake, and a handful of other small lakes. Fishing reports have been limited to a few panfish from the areas being fished.

Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596

BEMIDJI AREA

The Bemidji area received 12 inches of snow on Sunday along with below zero temperatures. Lake Bemidji buttoned up on Monday and it’s likely that there will be some anglers walking on it by the weekend, especially the south end of the lake. Walleye fishing has been good with spoons and minnow heads on Lake Irving and Gull Lake in 10 to 14 feet. Most of the lakes in the area, other than Lake Bemidji, have 5 to 8 inches of ice. Snowmobiles and ATVs are starting to be used on some small lakes. Look to Midge Lake, Gull, and Moose Lake for panfish in shallow water. 

Dick Beardsley Guide Service

(218) 556-7172

BLACKDUCK AREA

This area received 6 to 10 inches of snow, but it was powdery and blew around, so the lakes appear to be in good shape. Most lakes had 5 to 7 inches of ice early this week and anglers are now walking on all lakes with some limited ATV use on a few. Blackduck Lake is kicking out bluegills along with a few walleyes and crappies in 8 to 14 feet. 

Timberline Sports and Tackle

(218) 835-4636

BRAINERD/NISSWA AREA 

Anglers are walking on the small lakes and bays where up to 5 inches of ice was being found. There was still pockets of open water on the big lakes early this week, but many areas did skim over on Monday night. Sunfish and crappies are being caught in less than 10 feet on Highway 371 Bay on North Long Lake, Rice Lake, and Nisswa Lake. The backwaters off the Mississippi River near Pillager are giving up northern pike. 

S & W Bait & Guide Service/

Nisswa Guide League  (218) 829-7010

CASS LAKE AREA

Most small lakes and bays have 4 to 6 inches of ice, but 8 to 10 inches of snow fell over the weekend, so there’s likely some slush to deal with on them. There were some people starting to walk on these areas before the snow, but not enough activity after it to get a good grasp on current lake conditions. The big lakes or main bodies of the bigger lakes, were kept open by the wind and most of those capped with thin ice on Monday night.

Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831              

CROSBY AREA

There’s about 8 inches of snow on the ground after last weekend and strong winds early this week limited any fishing activity. The big lakes locked up on Monday night, so the snow had little impact on them. The lakes that were already capped need to be approached with caution due to the snow on top of them. Before the snow, anglers were walking out and finding 4 to 6 inches of ice on some small lakes and bays, but fishing reports were limited to a few panfish and pike.

Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle

(218) 546-6912

DULUTH AREA   

This area received about 9 inches of snow over the weekend and strong winds after it. As of Tuesday morning, there hadn’t been enough people venturing out to report what effect the snow had on local ice and lake conditions. Prior to the snow, anglers were walking on 4 to 6 inches of ice on the small, shallow lakes. Walleyes were being caught at Rice Lake in 4 to 6 feet and Boulder Lake in 8 to 10 feet.

Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094

ELY AREA

The small to medium-size lakes have 4 to 7 inches of ice, while the big lakes still had pockets of open water early this week. About 8 inches of snow also fell last weekend, but strong winds blew a lot of it around – anglers are walking out on the lakes they are fishing. Northern pike have been active in the bays on Birch Lake, Armstrong Lake, and Shagawa Lake in 6 to 10 feet of water. A few walleyes are being taken with spoons or dead sticks and rainbow minnows on Birch, Shagawa, and Harris Lake in 20 to 25 feet. 

Arrowhead Outdoors (218) 365-5358

FARIBAULT/SHIELDSVILLE AREA

The ice has been coming and going over the past week forming a thin layer on some lakes overnight, but it usually disappeared during the day. Fortunately, it looked as though everything capped on Monday night and although there wasn’t enough to walk on early this week, it appears to be headed in the right direction.

John’s Bait & Tackle (507) 332-6787

Lake Country Convenience & Bait

(507) 334-9711

FERGUS FALLS AREA

Early this week, 2 to 4 inches of ice was pretty common on most lakes and just about everything completely capped on Monday night – anglers are walking on the small lakes. Fishing is just getting started and Pelican Lake by Ashby is producing a few walleyes and crappies in 10 to 12 feet. 

Little Chief Outpost

(218) 998-5050

GRAND RAPIDS/DEER RIVER AREA 

Despite receiving 9 inches of snow last weekend, ice conditions have held up nicely. Anglers are walking out on the area’s small lakes with as much as 7 inches of ice being found on some of them. The big, deeper lakes also are capped with a thin layer of ice. Bowstring Lake is giving up walleyes and perch in 12 feet, while Little Cutfoot Sioux Lake is producing a mixed bag of panfish in 9 feet.

Fred’s Live Bait (218) 246-8710

GREY EAGLE AREA

Any water that remained on local lakes locked up Monday night. Anglers have started walking on a few small lakes and reported about 4 inches of ice on them early this week. Moose Lake has seen some activity with panfish and an occasional walleye being caught in 6 to 8 feet. 

Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405

HACKENSACK AREA 

After the cold weather early this week, most small lakes had 5 to 7 inches of ice and the majority of big lakes capped Monday night. This area received 8 to 12 inches of snow last weekend, but a lot of it blew around and didn’t seem to have a big impact on lake conditions. There hasn’t been much for fishing reports, a few people trying for panfish or pike, but expect plenty of ice fishing activity on local lakes this weekend.

Swanson’s Bait and Tackle

(218) 675-6176

HUTCHINSON AREA 

Ice conditions are inconsistent throughout the area. There was actually better ice a week ago on most small lakes and some foot travel underway, but strong winds busted a lot of it up. Many of these lakes refroze on Monday night so you might find 6 inches in one spot and much less in another. Check it as you go if you plan on walking out this weekend.

The Outpost Inc. (320) 587-8177

MORA AREA

After Monday night, any remaining open water locked up, but ice depths remained pretty thin on area lakes early this week. A few anglers are walking on portions of Knife Lake, catching a few panfish, and finding 3 to 4 inches of ice. Early this week, 4 inches of ice was about the maximum being found on any lake.

Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop 

(320) 679-2151

ORTONVILLE AREA

Ice conditions have been changing daily. Last weekend, Big Stone Lake was pretty much ice covered, but strong winds on Sunday did rip out a bunch of ice between the islands and Mallard Point, as well as opening pockets on the north end. With cold weather immediately following the wind, ice had started to form again by Tuesday morning, but there is a lot of inconsistency. The good news is most of the ice in the Ben Heins/County Road 68 area and south stayed intact, which might allow some to walk out.

Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480

PARK RAPIDS AREA

This area received 6 to 8 inches of snow and it has limited fishing opportunities. Anglers were finding 4 to 6 inches of ice on some lakes before the snow and some foot travel has started. But ice depths are not consistent, especially after the snow, and the big lakes just iced-over on Monday night so you need to check it as you go. There have been some limited panfish reports coming off Boulder Lake, Straight Lake, and the Crow Wing Chain in 8 to 10 feet of water. 

Delaney’s (218) 732-4281

Smokey Hills Outdoors 

(218) 237-5099

PERHAM AREA

There hasn’t been much fishing activity over the past week. Anglers had started walking on some small, shallow lakes a week ago, then it warmed up compromising the ice, and 8 inches of snow hit the area this past weekend. As of Tuesday morning, there was a lot of uncertainty with local ice conditions, which has limited the number of people heading out. While there’s likely going to be lakes to walk on this weekend and some fishing underway, you need to check ice depths before just walking out.

Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355

RED WING AREA

There isn’t any ice worth noting, but the cold and windy weather last weekend and early this week kept anglers off the Mississippi River. Once it improves, look for walleyes and sauger on the current seams in 18 to 20 feet below the dam. Jig tipped with minnows or plastics, hair jigs, and blade baits should all produce fish early and late in the day.

Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334

RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA

Ice conditions vary greatly from open water on lakes of any size or those with depth, to a thin layer of ice on some bays, small lakes, and wind-protected spots. There wasn’t a lake or bay locally that had ice thick enough to walk on early this week.

Channel Marine and Sports

(320) 597-5975

SAUK CENTRE AREA

It’s likely that any open water spots on area lakes locked up on Monday night. Anglers have started walking on a few small lakes with 3 to 5 inches of ice being found early this week. Fishing reports remain limited, although McCormick Lake is kicking out sunfish and walleyes in 8 to 10 feet of water. 

Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155

STAPLES/LITTLE FALLS AREA

There’s still pockets of water or thin ice on the big, deep lakes, but anglers are walking on 4 to 6 inches of ice on several lakes or portions of them. Thunder Lake and Beauty Lake are producing crappies during the evening hours over 15 feet. The Thoroughfare area on Lake Alexander started giving up walleyes and crappies in 12 to 15 feet during low-light periods as well.

Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056

STARBUCK AREA

Anglers are walking on a few lakes and bays with up to 4 inches of ice being found – about the same ice depth as last week. Once the wind calmed down Monday night, the bigger lakes also capped with a layer of ice in most areas, but pockets of open water could still be seen on some bigger lakes Tuesday morning.

Last Cast Bait and Tackle

(320) 239-2239

WILLMAR AREA

With the exception of some open water spots on the bigger bodies of water, everything is now ice-covered. There isn’t a lot of ice at this point with up to 4 inches in some bays and shoreline areas, but less than that on most lakes. Look to small, shallow lakes to possibly build enough ice to walk on by this weekend.

J&J Hwy. 71 Bait and Tackle 

(320) 235-4097

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