Report from the Dock
The first legitimate open-water panfish bites of the spring have started to be heard. This week’s warm weather should continue to improve these shallow bites as water temperatures continue to climb in bays, culverts, and shoreline areas. Early this week, crappies were being found in some areas over 10 to 12 feet or so, while others have already moved shallow. Generally, things are just getting started, the bulk of the panfish being caught have been small, but look for these shallow areas to start holding big numbers of fish by this weekend. Ice conditions continue to deteriorate across the northern half of the state and with warm, sunshine-filled days along with some rain over the next week, most of the ice is expected to be gone by the fishing opener next Saturday. Ice-out by opening day will be close in some areas and there still might be some ice floating around certain areas, but the general consensus is that there will be water to fish statewide.
LAKE MILLE LACS
There were a few small sheets of ice floating on the lake Tuesday morning, but for the most part, the lake is completely ice-free. There has been several reports of crappies being caught in the marinas and boat harbors. That bite should only get better with this week’s warm weather.
Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811
Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
Ice is slowly melting on Big Traverse Bay, the main part of the lake. There was still plenty of ice early this week, but with the warm weather, sun, and strong outflow from the Rainy River and other rivers or streams, ice will be deteriorating fast. Open water is spreading on the lake outside of the Lighthouse Gap where the Rainy River enters Lake of the Woods and near the Morris Point Gap where Bostic Creek enters the lake. Bays are open or mostly open for those who want to fish pike. Many fish have been spotted back in ditches well away from the lake where some good spawning takes place. Sturgeon fishing has really improved on the Rainy River. The river is running very fast with strong spring rains on top of frozen ground combined with normal runoff and feeder rivers opening up. Much of the debris from the Big Fork and Little Fork rivers has flushed through, but always be aware when navigating as high water conditions can float debris into the river. With heavy spring flow, some sturgeon anglers are fishing deep holes in the main channel using 11-ounce weights to keep baits on the bottom. Other anglers shifted to fishing eddys and current break areas using 5- to 6-ounce weights. Good numbers of big sturgeon were caught over the past week.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
Early this week, some crappies were being found in 8 to 14 feet of water on Lake Minnetonka, mainly around weeds. With warmer weather expected throughout the week, these fish should move shallower by the weekend and set up along those traditional shorelines and bays.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
The ice is looking “ugly” and Pike Bay is expected to be ice-free by this weekend. Big Bay shouldn’t be far behind, especially with strong current moving into the lake. The shorelines are opening farther each day and every indication is that there will be water to fish by opening weekend.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
Vermilion Dam Lodge (218) 666-5418
There was quite a bit of ice throughout the main lake early this week, but it is starting to darken and appear compromised. The shorelines have opened and any moving water areas continue to extend farther into the lake. With warm weather and some rain the forecast, expectations are that the ice will go out next week.
As of Tuesday morning, some shorelines have popped open, but others were still intact. Any current areas that are open are starting to extend into the lake as well. Ice still covered the entire lake, but it is starting to change color and looks as if it is starting to deteriorate. This week’s warm weather will help speed up the ice-out process.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company
Rainy Lake still held a lot of ice early this week. An estimated 20 inches of ice covers much of the main basin. Some bays are breaking loose and with warmer weather expected this week, ice-out should speed up. But it looks like there’s still going to be ice for the opener. The river looks to be the best option for opening day walleyes on the short term.
RainyDaze Guide Service
The shorelines have opened enough that the ice is moving and shifting with the wind. It also looks black and soft, so if forecasts are correct with the warm weather sticking around, the ice should be gone early next week or possibly even sooner.
West Wind Resort (218) 647-8998
Twin Cities Metro
Walleyes are being caught with a jig and minnow on the St. Croix from Prescott north to Bayport in shallow water. Anglers fishing from shore on Big Marine Lake and Clear Lake by Forest Lake are starting to catch a few crappies as well.
Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle
Anglers have just started looking for crappies, but success has been limited. The fish being caught are scattered with some in less than 5 feet and others still out in 10 to 14 feet. If the warm weather continues, look for a big push of panfish into shallow water on all lakes. The west side of Lake Waconia has been one of the better spots for crappies at this point.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
Local crappie bites have been slow to develop and the few being caught early this week were still over deep water. This is expected to change quickly with the arrival of warm weather, so start looking to those shallow bays and shorelines for panfish.
Prior Lake Bait & Tackle
The ice is now completely out, but open water fishing was just getting started early this week. With the improved weather, crappies and sunfish should make a quick move into shallow water, so start checking those traditional bays and shorelines that produce each spring.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle
BATTLE LAKE AREA
Several small lakes are now ice-free, but the big lakes still had ice early this week. Every indication is that any ice still on the lakes will be gone this weekend or early next week. Some crappies have started being caught in shallow water at Ten Mile Lake and Clitherall Lake.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
There was a few people ice fishing last weekend, but that’s come to an end. With last weekend’s rain, most shorelines have now popped loose and main lake ice has been compromised. Warm weather and sun is expected this week and that should accelerate the ice-out process.
Timberline Sports and Tackle
Many small lakes are now ice-free and any ice that was left early this week was black, rotten, and going fast. There was still ice on the big lakes such as Gull, while much of North Long Lake and Round Lake were open. There’s a chance that by this weekend, the ice could be completely gone throughout the area.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/
Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010
CASS LAKE AREA
There was still quite a bit of ice throughout the area early this week, but it looked black and it is soft. The channels between lakes are open and flowing, while Allen’s Bay on Cass Lake should be wide open by this weekend. With warm weather forecasted throughout the week, expectations are that the ice should be gone within a few days.
Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831
Water temperatures were cool early this week so the shallow crappie bite has been slow to develop. A few fish have been caught, mostly in deeper water, but with the warmer this week expect a push of panfish into the bays and shorelines soon.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
There was still some floating ice on the bigger lakes early this week, but that’s expected to be gone this weekend. There hasn’t been much for open water fishing to report, but that will change quickly as well. With warm weather in the forecast, start looking to those shallow spring spots to start holding panfish.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle
DETROIT LAKES AREA
Early this week, ice could still be seen on most lakes. But it was looking soft and black and deteriorating quickly.This week’s warm weather bodes well for complete ice-out within the next week. Little Detroit Lake was mostly ice-free on Tueday morning.
Quality Bait and Tackle
Early this week, area lakes were still ice-covered, but last weekend’s rain started to take its toll on the ice. What’s left looks dark and with this week’s warm weather, it is expected to go out quickly. A few smelt started to show up along the north shore tributaries and the smelt run could be in full swing by this weekend.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
EAST CENTRAL MN
Crappies have started to show up in those traditional spring spots. The shallow water on Green Lake, Eagle Lake, and Blue Lake were all giving up some crappies early this week.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop
The shorelines are now open and the ice in place is starting to look rotten, especilly near the surface. Current areas also are open and flowing fast so that will help speed up the ice-out process on many lakes. Based on lake conditions early in the week, ice is expected to go out quickly, likely at some point next week and expectations are for open water by the fishing opener.
Arrowhead Outdoors (218) 365-5358
Amber Lake, Budd Lake, and Lake Sisseton are producing a mixed bag of panfish – crappies, bluegills, and yellow bass. During the day, 8 to 14 feet has been best, but these fish do slide shallower in ther late afternoon and evening hours. Hit Tuttle Lake on the Minnesota/Iowa border with jigs and plastics for walleyes.
Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225
Crappies have not moved shallow, but they are biting on Cedar Lake, Lake Mazaska, and Shields Lake – better reports were from at least 8 feet of water early this week. These fish should start moving into shallower water throughout this week with the warmer temperatures.
Lake Country Convenience & Bait
GRAND RAPIDS/DEER RIVER AREA
The ice has deteriorated since last week, but there was still plenty of it early this week, especially on the big lakes. Ice conditions are showing signs of a spring thaw and many small lakes are expected to be open by this weekend. The warm weather that’s expected should start to quickly open the bigger bodies of water as well.
Fred’s Live Bait (218) 246-8710
GREY EAGLE AREA
The ice is gone, but there wasn’t a lot of anglers getting out early this week. The improved weather will quickly change that, so expect a big push of crappies and sunfish into shallow water by this weekend.
Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405
Ice conditions have deteriorated quite a bit since last week. There’s still plenty of it sitting on local lakes, but the shorelines are busted open and main lake ice is starting to appear black and soft. What’s left is expected to go fast so finding water by the fishing opener should not be an issue.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle
The channel between Stahls Lake and French Lake started producing crappies early this week. This week’s nice weather should kick in that shallow crappie bite on many lakes, likely by this weekend, so start checking those traditional panfish spots.
The Outpost Inc. (320) 587-8177
Caddis hatches continue on area streams so size 16 or 18 caddis flys are producing trout on the surface. A skitter retrieve has been more productive than a slow drift pattern. Blue-winged olive fly patterns, nymphing and streamers are all producing trout on local streams. Generally, the trout bite has been excellent this week throughout the area.
Root River Rod Company
Shorelines continue to open and the ice intact early this week has turned black and soft. Everything looks promising for ice-out on area lakes this weekend or early next week.
The One Stop (218) 363-2252
MADISON LAKE AREA
A few crappies are being caught, but most were still set up in 10 feet of water or more. This will change fast, especially with the warm weather this week, so start looking for those fish to push into those traditonal spring locations – shallow water.
Corner Bait (507) 243-4464
Anglers fishing from shore are catching crappies on Knife Lake and the Ann River. With warmer weather throughout this week, look for those other spring crappie spots to start holding panfish in shallow water as well.
Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop
Big Stone Lake is producing a few walleyes, but the bite has been tough – poor weather until early this week has limited fishing opportunities as well. The north end of the lake has been best in less than 5 feet of water with a jig and minnow. With water temperatures warming this week, the south end should get more productive in shallow water as well.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
The shorelines on most lakes have started to bust loose and main lake ice is turning dark. This week’s warm weather should help speed up the ice-out process and expectations are that most lakes should be open ice-free by next weekend’s fishing opener.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors
Shorelines are opening farther each day, but as of Tuesday morning, there was still quite a bit of ice on area lakes. It has deteriorated since last week, turning black and appearing rotten, and it is expected to be gone within the next few days.
Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355
RED WING AREA
It’s been a tough week of walleye fishing on the Mississippi River. Water levels have risen quite a bit and the river is running fast making it difficult to fish. Water temperature was approaching 49 degrees on Tuesday morning and the few walleyes being caught have come on jigs with minnows along current seams or back channel areas with less current.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA
Anglers have just started checking the shallow bays and shorelines for crappies and sunfish. Some fish have been found, but most were running on the small side early this week. Water temperatures should spike quickly with the nice weather, so expect many of those spring spots to start holding better numbers of quality fish by the weekend.
Channel Marine and Sports
SAUK CENTRE AREA
The ice is gone, but there wasn’t much for panfish activity early this week. With better weather expected throughout the week, that will change quickly. Expect a push of crappies and bluegills into those traditional, spring locations as water temperatures start to warm.
Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155
STAPLES/LITTLE FALLS AREA
The ice is gone and crappies have started to be caught below the Blanchard Dam on the Mississippi River and at the Highway 10 bridge on Little Rock Lake. Sucker action also has heated up at the mouths of the Swan River, Pike River, and Elk River.
Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056
Crappies and sunfish are being caught in the Starbuck Marina and out from the access on the Glenwood end of Lake Minnewaska. Pocket Lake is giving up crappies in shallow water as well. Minnows, waxworms, and plastics are all producing fish. The outlet area on Lake Emily started producing channel catfish.
Last Cast Bait and Tackle
The Redwood River in Camden State Park continues to produce trout, but crappie reports have been limited. There hasn’t been a lot of people fishing, but with the nice weather, look for crappies to move shallow on most lakes this week.
Borch’s Sporting Goods