Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Minnesota Pro Tip of the Week: Safety first on first ice

By Hays Baldwin

It is early ice season, that time of year that requires ice anglers to focus on smaller, protected lakes.

Finding safe ice on any waters this weekend are generally going to require locating lakes under 100 acres with high banks and trees that protect a lake’s surface from wind. They are goign to be your best bet.

Take all precautions that you might otherwise slack on later in the season. Make sure to bring ice picks (they can’t help you in a pinch from inside your bag), rope, a float suit or ice vest and bring a friend. Never fish alone on early ice.

Now, on to the fishing. The other day we found fish shallow on weed flats with existing green weeds such as cabbage and coontail. Those areas can be not too far away from shore. You don’t need to walk across an entire lake to find these areas. Look to the first breakline area to set up. We found a variety of fish yesterday – northern pike, bass, crappies, bluegills and yellow perch. Just get out to those near shore areas, weed flats, and hunker down. We put tip-ups out with sucker and shiners for pike and walleyes.

Good luck and put safety first.

Baldwin is a fishing guide in the Brainerd Lakes area. He can be reached via email at or (612) 419-4828.

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