Report from the Dock
There seems to be plenty of ice fishing opportunities across the northern half of the state. At the very least you can walk on most lakes and there’s even been some ATV use in a few areas that froze earliest. From central Minnesota and points south of it, ice conditions remain sketchy so there hasn’t been much fishing activity to report. While foot travel has started in a few areas, ice depths have not improved much at all in central and southern Minnesota since last week. Crappies and bluegills seem to be biting more consistently than walleyes in areas people have been fishing to the north. Most of them are being found in the remaining weedbeds or weed edges, although some crappies are showing up suspended over deep basin areas that are accessible. Generally, the primary walleye spots have been tough to get to, even in the northern part of the state, where better ice exists. Most expectations are that this is going to change by this weekend as ice depths continue improving.
LAKE MILLE LACS
St. Albans Bay had 4 to 5 inches of ice on Tuesday morning. There were a few people walking out in the bay and on the points last weekend, and they reported decent action for walleyes and some pike. The south end bays have thicker ice and some anglers have started driving ATVs and snowmobiles out to fish. Be extremely careful because there are spots with open cracks. Foot traffic, close to shore, could be an option on many areas of the lake by this weekend.
Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811
Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
Ice fishing has begun and fish houses are out on most areas of the lake, but ice depths vary greatly. Work through a resort or outfitter and stick to their marked ice roads, trails and fishing areas where they have checked ice. Good numbers of walleyes and sauger, along with eelpout, pike, perch and tullibees are hitting in 8 to 27 feet of water. Some walleyes are caught early and late each day in shallow water. The one/two punch, jigging one line and dead-sticking your second line is most effective. As a general rule, snowmobiles, ATVs and side by sides are being allowed at this point. For those fishing in resort fish houses, they will transport you out via light ice rigs. Pike anglers are finding good numbers of big pike in the bays. The Rainy River is ice-covered and where there is good ice, anglers are finding walleyes and sturgeon. With the current of the river, knowing where and where not to travel and working through resorts/outfitters who know ice conditions is key. Ice is progressing nicely at the Northwest Angle. Some local snowmobile travel has been happening in marked areas with good ice conditions. Like every year, there are areas with cracks and current so stay on marked trails when things open up.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
There’s about 2 inches of ice on the small bays and lakes and some shoreline ice on the bigger bodies of water, but there’s a lot of thin ice and open water throughout the area. As of Tuesday morning, there wasn’t a lake to safely fish on.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
There hasn’t been any travel out of McKinley Park, there’s 6 to 8 inches of ice in Big Bay and Pike Bay, but there’s a lot of snow on top of it. As a result, there hasn’t been much fishing activity and no fish houses on the lake. Snowmobiles have started to be seen close to shore in some bays, so some portable shelters could be used in those areas.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
The entire lake is ice-covered and there’s about 7 inches of ice out to the first shoreline break. There hasn’t been anyone beyond that, but with very little snow on the ice, it’s likely there’s going to be some main lake fishing starting soon. There has been quite bit of spearing activity for pike and angling for perch in 4 to 8 feet. Walleyes should start being found as more of the main lake becomes accessible.
The main lake has 5 to 7 inches of ice in many areas and you’ll find 4 inches out from the park in Walker Bay, but much of the bay still had sketchy ice early this week. Walleyes are being caught in Trader’s Bay and the Pine Point area in 10 to 13 feet during low-light periods. Anglers also are walking on the area’s small lakes, but there is enough snow on them that slush has developed on most.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company
Ice conditions continue to improve, but there hasn’t been much activity at favorable fishing areas of the lake. Expect to see some action out to some deeper water areas by next week.
RainyDaze Guide Service
Walleye fishing continues to be good. JRs was still allowing single axle wheel houses pulled by UTV or ATV, but no trucks or vehicles early this week. The lake has very little snow on it and about 11 to 13 inches of ice just about everywhere. With the full moon phase coming up, the night bite should be awesome through the weekend in 13 feet of water along the south shore. Along the east shore, the walleye bite has been good in 8 to 9 feet of water and West Wind has a trail staked out to 1.7 miles. Red rattle spoons or a dead stick and shiner minnow are working best.
JR’s Corner Access (320) 290-3838
West Wind Resort (218) 647-8998
Twin Cities Metro
Parts of this area received in excess of 14 inches of snow last weekend, which was not good for any ice that was in place. While most lakes are ice-covered, they now appear to have a lot of slush and there wasn’t anything safe to walk on early this week.
Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle
With the exception of the big lakes, ice has taken hold throughout the area. Unfortunately, the ice that’s in place was not thick enough to walk on early this week. There were a few small bays that people were walking on last weekend, but the warm weather this week put that on hold.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
The small, shallow lakes have 4 to 7 inches of ice in spots, but there’s much less ice and some open water on the big, deep lakes. Anglers are just starting to walk on a few lakes. The north bay on Reno Lake is producing panfish and a few walleyes in 12 to 14 feet. Little Mary Lake is worth hitting for sunfish and a few crappies in 10 to 15 feet.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle
The lakes are capped, but ice depths vary from 2 to 4 inches, so there hasn’t been a lot of fishing activity. Anglers have started walking on Little Maple Lake, parts of Clearwater Lake, French Lake, and Lake Francis mainly looking for panfish, but success has been limited.
Little Jim’s Bait (320) 274-5297
BATTLE LAKE AREA
Anglers are finding 2 to 4 inches of ice on the small lakes and bays, but some big lakes just capped last week. Fish Lake started giving up sunfish and crappies in 15 to 20 feet, while Walker Lake is producing crappies over 18 to 20 feet during the evening hours.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
There is 8 to 10 inches of ice on most lakes in the area and snowmobiles and ATVs are being used to get out. The exception is Lake Bemidji, where anglers are walking out on 3 to 5 inches of ice. Look to Lake Irving, Grace Lake, and Gull Lake for walleyes in 10 to 12 feet, especially during the low-light periods. Little Turtle Lake and Campbell Lake are kicking out bluegills and crappies in less than 12 feet.
Dick Beardsley Guide Service
Ice conditions are in good shape with 7 to 10 inches on most lakes and ATVs have started being used on some. Blackduck Lake is giving up bluegills, along with some perch, crappies and a few walleyes early and late each day in 10 to 14 feet. Island Lake and Round Lake are producing perch during the day and walleyes each evening in 10 to 14 feet. Look to Pimushe Lake and Rabideau Lake for bluegills and some crappies in 10 to 15 feet.
Timberline Sports and Tackle
Most lakes have 3 to 7 inches of ice, and expect better ice on the small lakes than big lakes. Crappies and sunfish are being caught over 10 to 12 feet in Highway 371 Bay on North Long Lake, Jones Bay on Pelican Lake, and Round Lake. Round is giving up walleyes in 16 to 18 feet, as is Pelican over 18 to 22 feet. Northern pike are being taken in shallow water in the bays on Pelican and the south end of Gull Lake.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/
Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010
CASS LAKE AREA
There’s 6 to 8 inches of ice on most lakes – those that have been froze longest. The lakes that capped recently had 3 inches or so early this week. Perch are being caught in the 8- to 10-foot weeds throughout Pike Bay Lake. Hit Lake Andrusia during the evening hours for walleyes in 12 feet and look to lakes such as Midge and Grace for panfish in 8 to 12 feet.
Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831
Anglers are finding walkable ice, about 4 inches, in the back bays on Chisago Lake, parts of North Center Lake, the roadbed area on South Lindstrom Lake, Pancake Island area on South Center Lake, and the channel between Chisago and South Lindstrom. Crappies, sunfish, and pike are being caught in the channel – it’s really been the most consistent fishing spot to start the season.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
Most small lakes now have 5 to 7 inches of ice, with a bit more on some bays and less on the bigger lakes. Serpent Lake and Rabbit Lake are kicking out a few walleyes in 15 to 20 feet during low-light periods. Look for a mixed bag of panfish off Little Rabbit Lake over 25 to 30 feet, Milford Lake in 25 to 35 feet, and Big Mahnomen Lake in 15 to 20 feet. Spearing and angling has been strong for pike throughout the area with Hay Lake, Little Black Hoof, Bay Lake, and Nokay Lake standing out.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle
DETROIT LAKES AREA
Ice depths vary from 2 to 6 inches with better ice being found on the small lakes. A few walleyes are coming off Big Cormorant Lake, not far from shore, in less than 15 feet during low-light periods. Height of Land Lake started giving up a mixed bag of panfish in 10 to 12 feet and northern pike seem to be active on most lakes people can get on.
Quality Bait and Tackle
Anglers are finding 5 to 7 inches of ice on the lakes being fished. You’ll find crappies over 15 feet and a few walleyes in 12 feet on Fish Lake. Rice Lake is giving up walleyes and northern pike in 6 feet – work spoons for the walleyes and sucker minnows for pike.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
EAST CENTRAL MN
Anglers are just starting to venture out and check ice conditions. Some reports indicate up to 4 inches of ice in spots on some lakes, but it wasn’t consistent early this week, so there hasn’t been much for fishing activity taking place.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop
Ice remains minimal and although everything is covered, there’s about 8 inches of snow on top of it. The few spots that people have checked only had 2 to 3 inches of ice early this week.
Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225
FERGUS FALLS AREA
The lakes people are fishing currently have 4 to 8 inches of ice, but it varies from lake to lake and on spots within them, so continue checking it as you venture out. West Lost Lake and Pleasant Lake are giving up crappies and sunfish in 10 to 18 feet. Pelican Lake by Ashby continues to kick out walleyes and crappies in 10 to 12 feet during low-light periods. Look to Rush Lake for crappies in 12 to 25 feet early and late each day.
Little Chief Outpost
GRAND RAPIDS/DEER RIVER AREA
You’ll find 5 to 8 inches of ice on most lakes, but some thinner ice does exist on a few bigger bodies of water. Perch and walleyes are going on Bowstring Lake in 10 to 15 feet, while Little Cutfoot Sioux Lake is kicking out perch, crappies, and bluegills in 7 to 10 feet. The 12- to 15-foot shoreline breaks on Big Cutfoot Sioux Lake are producing walleyes and northern pike.
Fred’s Live Bait (218) 246-8710
GREY EAGLE AREA
Anglers are finding 3 to 6 inches of ice and walking on most lakes. A few walleyes are coming off the north end of Big Birch Lake during low-light periods in 15 to 18 feet. Crappies also are hitting during the evening hours at Two Rivers Lake in 15 to 18 feet and Moose Lake in 8 to 10 feet. Bass Lake is giving up crappies and an occasional walleye in 12 to 18 feet and sunfish in 8 to 12 feet.
Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405
Anglers are walking on most lakes and using ATVs on a few with 4 to 8 inches of ice being found. Little Birch Lake is kicking out bluegills and crappies over 15 to 20 feet. Look to Pleasant Lake for bluegills in 14 to 20 feet and suspended crappies over 20 feet. There’s an evening crappie bite on Stony Lake in 20 to 25 feet.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle
Anglers are walking on most lakes finding 3 to 6 inches of ice. Otter Lake is producing walleyes in 6 feet and Green Leaf Lake is kicking out a few crappies and walleyes during low-light periods. Jewell Lake is producing crappies during low-light periods as well, and Clear Lake by Watkins continues to kick out walleyes in 6 feet.
The Outpost Inc. (320) 587-8177
Trout fishing remains strong through the catch and release season on those streams that remain open. Slow-presented nymphing patterns tight to the bottom are producing good numbers of rainbow and brown trout. Some shelf ice has developed along parts of some streams so be careful along those shoreline areas.
Root River Rod Company
Most lakes now have 4 to 6 inches of ice, although the big, deep lakes have thinner ice, especially away from the shorelines. Bluegills and a few crappies are being found in the 10- to 12-foot weeds on Girl Lake and Boy Lake. Woman Lake is producing walleyes early and late each day on shiner minnows in 16 to 18 feet.
The One Stop (218) 363-2252
MADISON LAKE AREA
The lakes are all ice-covered, but this area did receive about 8 inches of snow last weekend, so there hasn’t been much fishing taking place. The few spots people are walking on and checking ice depths really vary with a maximum of 3 inches being found on a few small lakes and bays.
Corner Bait (507) 243-4464
Most lakes now have 4 to 6 inches of ice. The point on Knife Lake is producing panfish, while the Indian Mounds area is giving up walleyes in 8 feet. Lake Eleven is kicking out crappies and sunfish over 10 feet, and the area west of the island on Fish Lake is producing sunfish and a few crappies over 6 feet.
Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop
There’s 6 to 7 inches of ice in the County Road 68/Ben Heins area and a mile south of there and 4 inches around Schmidt’s Landing on Big Stone Lake. There are other spots of the lake with less ice so know where you’re going. A few anglers have started walking out and finding some perch, bluegills, and crappies in 9 to 11 feet.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
Anglers are finding 2 inches of ice on the big lakes and up to 6 inches on parts of the small lakes or shoreline areas. Crappies are suspended and active over deep basin areas and biting best during low-light periods on the Crow Wing Chain, Spider Lake, and Boulder Lake. Look for walleyes along the 15- to 22-foot weeds or structure throughout Fish Hook Lake, Potato Lake, and Long Lake.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors
Ice depths really vary from lake to lake and spots throughout them with 3 to 10 inches being found across the area. Big Pine Lake, Little Pine Lake, and Rush Lake are giving up walleyes during low-light periods in 12 to 21 feet. Panfish reports have been light, but Rush is kicking out bluegills in 8 to 12 feet.
Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355
RED WING AREA
Walleyes and sauger continue to be caught on the Mississippi River. Vertical jig with minnows or drag plastics during the afternoon hours below the dam in 13 to 18 feet. As far as ice, conditions remain questionable with just a thin layer taking hold in the marinas.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA
Anglers have just started walking on some lakes and finding 3 to 5 inches of ice where they’re fishing, but less ice on many lakes. Mud Lake (Vails) is producing crappies straight out from the access and the main bay on Big Lake is giving up a mixed bag of panfish in 20 to 22 feet.
Channel Marine and Sports
SAUK CENTRE AREA
Red Barn Bay on Sauk Lake is kicking out walleyes in 6 to 8 feet and crappies over 25 feet. McCormick Lake continues to produce walleyes and sunfish in 8 feet, while the north end of Lake Osakis started giving up bluegills in 12 to 18 feet. Northern pike reports are strong at Sauk, Guernsey Lake, Black Oak Lake, and Fairy Lake. Most lakes now have 4 to 7 inches of ice.
Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155
STAPLES/LITTLE FALLS AREA
You’ll find 4 to 6 inches of ice on most lakes being fished. Walleyes and crappies are being caught on the east side and Thoroughfare area of Lake Alexander in 12 feet. Thunder Lake and Coal Lake are producing crappies in 16 to 18 feet. Hit Beauty Lake for sunfish in 8 to 12 feet and Lake Pepin after dark for crappies in 18 to 20 feet.
Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056
With the exception of some thin ice on the big lakes, 4 to 6 inches is being found on most bays and small lakes. Walleyes started hitting on Lake Mennetaga in 6 to 8 feet, while Long Lake is producing walleyes and crappies in 8 to 15 feet. Ringo Lake is giving up walleyes in 8 to 10 feet and hit Foot Lake for crappies during the evenings over 10 to 15 feet.
J&J Hwy. 71 Bait and Tackle
Anglers have started walking on a few lakes, but staying close to shore, where up to 4 inches of ice is being found. There’s been some walleyes and perch coming off Lake Shetek and Lake Sarah in 8 feet. The best activity has been early and late each day.
Borch’s Sporting Goods