Report from the Dock
The good news is that ice conditions continue to improve across the entire state. Walking out is now an option in most locations, but some skinny ice remains from central Minnesota and points south, so continue to use extreme caution in those regions. The farther north you go, the better ice depth and lake conditions you’ll find. ATVs have started to be used in certain areas, and some small shelters and spear houses have started to be set. Expect ATV or snowmobile use to be options in more locations throughout the northern part of the state by this weekend, but use the contacts in this report for up-to-the-minute ice conditions. While the ice has improved, most walleye and crappie reports continue to be limited. Obviously, there haven’t been a lot of people venturing out at this point, but many that are have struggled to consistently put fish on the ice. There are some exceptions, but there’s not a lot of bites that have stood out up to this point.
LAKE MILLE LACS
East – The southern bays such as Cove, Wahkon, and Isle have 8 to 10 inches of ice and ATV traffic has started on them. Some walleyes and perch are being caught in the bays. There hasn’t been much activity on the main lake as far as fishing, but some anglers have started checking ice depths and report up to 6 inches not far from shore.
Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811
West – The lake is now ice-covered as far as the eye can see. As of Tuesday morning, a thin layer of main-lake ice was intact with thicker ice reported close to shore and in the bays. The main lake likely won’t be approachable by this weekend, but some shoreline breaks and bays could have enough ice to walk on.
Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430
LAKE OF THE WOODS
Some resorts have started pulling out fish houses, so it is game on. Ice trails are marked and open, just check with resorts for daily travel options. Some resorts have trails marked across Four Mile Bay out to fishing areas in front of Pine Island on the main lake. The few anglers venturing out early this week were catching decent numbers of walleyes and sauger. The Rainy River is locked up and some local anglers have been checking ice and catching some walleyes and sauger. As ice thickens, more areas will become accessible, but work through a resort or outfitter. At the Northwest Angle, resorts have been monitoring ice conditions and starting to stake trails. They are not ice fishing yet, but the ice is looking good and some guides that have been out fishing and have had success.
Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau
LAKE MINNETONKA AREA
The main portion and bigger bays of Lake Minnetonka still had open water as of Tuesday morning. Anglers have been walking on the small bays such as Black, Seton, and Emerald and finding 3 to 5 inches of ice. Fishing reports have been limited. There is snow on top of the ice, so you need to be cautious and check it as you go.
Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227
There’s currently 8 to 10 inches of ice in Pike Bay and about 5 inches throughout much of the main lake. Anglers are just starting to pull small houses on Big Bay and outside Pike Bay with snowmobiles and ATVs. Fishing reports have been limited, but should improve quickly with more people starting to venture out.
Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430
There might have been a pocket or two of open water far out on the main lake, but everything looked locked tight early this week. Spear houses have started going out and there have been a few reports of perch being caught in Tamarack Bay. Check with resorts, but it sounded as if there are going to be some main-lake fishing options by this weekend.
Walker Bay is now mostly capped, but there was not enough ice to walk on early this week. Reports from anglers checking areas such as Trader’s Bay and Pine Point indicated around 6 inches of ice on Tuesday. The small bays have areas with as much as 9 inches of ice, so some angling and spearing is getting started. There’s also been activity on some the area’s small lakes for panfish, with 6 to 8 inches of ice being found.
Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505
Shriver’s Bait Company
Many bays are currently in good shape for walk-out fishing. There are people starting to venture out in a few areas, but reports have been limited. Early this week, the main-basin ice was still questionable and not yet ready for foot travel.
RainyDaze Guide Service
In most areas of the lake, ice depths are approaching 12 inches. Some resorts/outfitters started to allow side-by-sides and trailers to be used early this week, but no private wheelhouses. Some rental houses have been pulled along the south shore, but again, no private houses were allowed early this week. Continue to work with local resorts and outfitters for ice conditions, staked raods, and travel options heading into this weekend. Various depths have been producing walleyes. Some groups pound them and others struggle a bit, but everyone seems to be catching a few fish. Get away from the crowds as much as ice conditions allow in 9 to 11 feet. Jigging spoons seem to be drawing fish in, but deadsticks and minnows have produced more fish this week.
West Wind Resort (218) 647-8998
JR’s Corner Access (320) 290-3838
Twin Cities Metro
Ice conditions vary from some skinny ice on the big lakes, to 3 to 5 inches on several small, shallow lakes or bays. Anglers have just started walking on a handful of local lakes, so there hasn’t been much to report, although some sunfish are being caught on Big Marine Lake.
Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle
Early this week, there was 3 to 4 inches of ice on the shallow lakes and bays. Some anglers have started walking on Wagener’s Bay on Lake Waconia and catching a few sunfish. Lake Parley is giving up crappies, on the hump straight out from the access or just beyond it. Crappies are also being caught on Wasserman Lake, left of the access, in 16 to 18 feet.
Cabin Fever Sports (952) 443-2022
Anglers have just started walking on a few small, shallow lakes and finding 3 to 5 inches of ice. This is the fist walkable ice of the season, so there hasn’t been much for fishing reports coming back. That should change this weekend, with ice depths continuing to improve.
Prior Lake Bait & Tackle
Anglers are finding 6 to 8 inches of ice on lakes and bays that froze earliest and 3 to 5 inches on those that froze a bit later. Reno Lake is giving up a few walleyes and crappies late in the day over 12 to 15 feet. Look to Little Mary Lake for suspended crappies over 12 to 17 feet. There should be plenty of ice-fishing options throughout the area by this weekend.
Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle
BATTLE LAKE AREA
You’ll find 6 to 8 inches of ice on the small lakes and bays and a bit less on the big lakes. The east end of Rush Lake is kicking out sunfish in 15 feet, and the narrows area on Pelican Lake is producing walleyes in 15 feet. Deadsticks and minnows are working better than spoons. On Silver Lake, anglers are finding a mixed bag of panfish straight out from the access. North and South Turtle lakes started giving up panfish and pike in 13 to 16 feet, while Blanche Lake is producing sunfish and crappies in 12 to 15 feet.
Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596
Ice continues to build with most small to medium-size lakes now having 7 to 8 inches of good, clear ice. Lake Bemidji capped on Dec. 1 and anglers are now walking out with portables along the south end where there’s 5 inches of ice. Lake Irving is kicking out walleyes and some perch in 10 to 12 feet early and late in the day. Hit Midge Lake or Gull Lake for crappies and bluegills.
Dick Beardsley Guide Service
Ice conditions are good with 7 to 10 inches of uniformed ice being found. ATVs have started being used on some lakes. The southwest side of Blackduck Lake started giving up bluegills in 8 to 10 feet, while crappies are being found suspended over deep water on Rabideau Lake.
Timberline Sports and Tackle
Everything is now ice covered – Gull Lake capped Monday night. Most small lakes and bays have least 5 to 7 inches of ice, while the big lakes, those that froze later, have a bit less. Round Lake is giving up crappies and walleyes early and late in the day over 9 to 16 feet. Anglers are also walking on and finding panfish, pike, and a few walleyes at North Long Lake, the bays on Pelican Lake, and North Long Lake in 10 to 17 feet.
S & W Bait & Guide Service/
Nisswa Guide League (218) 829-7010
CASS LAKE AREA
You’ll find 6 to 8 inches of ice on the small lakes and bays, but the main portion of any big lake such as Cass is not safe for any type of travel. Pike Bay Lake is producing perch in about 6 feet, and a walleye or two is caught each evening along the shoreline breaks on Cass Lake in 16 to 18 feet.
Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831
The bays and channels have up to 4 inches of ice with some snow on top of it. The spots that froze later and are snow-free, are making ice quickly, and everything was locked up early this week. Anglers have been walking on most lakes, with a few reports of panfish and pike being caught on Chisago Lake, South Lindstrom Lake, and south end of Green Lake.
Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334
Everything is now capped, with up to 6 to 8 inches of ice being found on the area’s small lakes and bays. Rabbit Lake is producing a few walleyes during the evening hours in 16 to 20 feet on jigging spoons, as is the Crosby end of Serpent Lake in 15 to 18 feet. You’ll find crappies and a few bluegills suspended over the deep holes on Little Rabbit Lake, Black Hoof Lake, Little Black Hoof Lake, and Mahnomen Lake.
Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle
DETROIT LAKES AREA
Ice conditions are good, with 5 to 11 inches being found throughout the area. There’s some evening crappie action on Little Detroit Lake over 12 feet, and Tamarack Lake is giving up a few sunfish in less than 8 to 12 feet. Deadsticks and rainbow minnows are producing a walleye or two each evening on Lake Sallie in 22 to 26 feet.
Quality Bait & Tackle (218) 844-2248
Anglers are finding 5 to 7 inches of ice on the lakes being fished, but thinner ice on the bigger reservoirs or in current areas. Walleyes and perch are being caught on Boulder Lake in 8 to 10 feet. Rice Lake is kicking out walleyes in 6 feet, and the narrows area on Fish Lake is producing walleyes and crappies in 10 to 15 feet. Deadsticks with minnows seem to be working better than jigging spoons.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094
Anglers are now walking on area lakes, mainly checking ice depths and just starting to fish. Fishing reports have been light, but activity on local lakes is expected to increase this weekend with ice conditions continuing to improve.
Tales and Trails Sport Shop
There’s a consistent 8 inches of ice on most lakes and not much snow – ATVs are being used. Tip-ups and sucker minnows are producing northenr pike on Birch Lake, One Pine Lake, and Range Lake in 5 to 10 feet. Walleyes are hitting over 16 to 18 feet early and late each day on Shagawa Lake, Fall Lake, and White Iron Lake. You’ll find crappies suspended over the deep holes throughout Johnson Lake, One Pine, and Range.
Arrowhead Outdoors (218) 365-5358
You’ll find 4 to 5 inches of ice on some lakes, but the wind and geese are keeping pockets open on a few lakes. Anglers are just starting to walk out and they’re catching yellow bass on the north sides of Hall Lake and Lake Sisseton in 10 feet.
Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225
Ice depths vary from 2 to 5 inches on area lakes, and anglers have started walking on most of them. Crappies are being caught in 15 to 17 feet, as are sunfish in 8 to 10 feet on Lake Mazaska, Shields Lake, and Cedar Lake. Reports for pike and walleyes remain light.
Lake Country Convenience & Bait
GRAND RAPIDS/DEER RIVER AREA
Anglers are finding about 8 inches of ice on area lakes, and some ATVs have started being used. Spearing for pike has gone well on most lakes with good water clarity being reported throughout the area. Crappies and some bluegills are being caught on Little Ball Club in 18 to 20 feet, Little Cutfoot Sioux Lake in 7 to 12 feet, and Sylvan Bay in 15 feet. There hasn’t been much for walleye activity reported at this point.
Fred’s Live Bait (218) 246-8710
GREY EAGLE AREA
You’ll find 4 to 8 inches of ice on the small lakes and bays, but most big, deep lakes just recently capped. Sunfish and crappies are being caught out from the access on Pine Lake in 15 feet. Hunter’s Bay on Big Birch Lake is producing panfish in 6 to 8 feet, and look to Moose Lake for suspended crappies out from the access as well. At this point, anglers are limited to where ice conditions allow and there isn’t a lot of main-lake travel.
Nancy’s Bait & Tackle (320) 285-2405
The area’s small lakes have 3 to 7 inches of ice, while the big lakes recently capped, so ice depths remain thin. Anglers are walking out and catching panfish on Little Birch Lake, Stony Lake, Moccasin Lake, and Webb Lake in 15 to 22 feet. Overall, ice conditions are favorable and there should be plenty of lakes to get on by this weekend.
Swanson’s Bait and Tackle
Foot travel is now an option with 6 inches of ice pretty common on local lakes. The deeper water on Marion Lake started giving up crappies and Swan Lake (east of Hutchinson) started giving up a few walleyes during low-light periods in 8 feet. Look to Ripley Lake for crappies during low-light periods in 13 to 15 feet.
The Outpost Inc. (320) 587-8177
Anglers were walking on most lakes and using ATVs on a few, close to shore early this week. There also have been some spear houses starting to be set on a few lakes, and even the big lakes are now ice covered. A few walleyes are being caught during low-light periods on Little Boy Lake in 15 feet or so, and some of the small, off the beaten path lakes are giving up crappies.
The One Stop (218) 363-2252
MADISON LAKE AREA
Lake conditions vary from spots with open water to up to 5 inches of ice being found on some bays and shallow lakes. Anglers are just starting to walk out on a few lakes, so there haven’t been a lot of actual fishing reports coming back in. By this weekend, activity is expected to pick up as ice depths improve.
Corner Bait (507) 243-4464
Ice conditions are in good shape with 5 to 10 inches being found on area lakes. The Indian Mounds area on Knife Lake is giving up a few crappies and walleyes during the evening hours in 11 feet. There hasn’t been much to report from the other lakes in this area.
Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop
Early this week, 5 to 7 inches of was being found throughout much of Big Stone Lake. Geese have kept a few areas open around the rearing ponds, Peninsula, Rustling Elms, and Timber Ridge. The Mallard/Grey Barn area has some areas of 3 inches or less, so avoid those. The most consistent ice in in the Ben Heins/County Road 68 area north of Ortonville about four miles. Foot travel has started, although ATVs could be an option in the Ben Heins area by this weekend. Perch are going in 12 to 13 feet around the islands on the south end.
Artie’s Bait (320) 839-2480
PARK RAPIDS AREA
There was a bit of open water on the big lakes as of Tuesday morning, but up to 5 to 7 inches of ice on most small lakes and bays. Crappies are being found suspended over 20 to 25 feet at Portage Lake, Boulder Lake, and the Crow Wing Chain. Walleyes are being caught on spoons and deadsticks with minnows during the evening hours on Boulder, the Crow Wing Chain, and Fish Hook Lake in 12 to 18 feet.
Delaney’s (218) 732-4281
Smokey Hills Outdoors
Ice conditions are good with 7 to 10 inches being found throughout local lakes. ATVs and small fish houses have started being used. Hit Rush Lake, Big Pine Lake, and Little Pine Lake for walleyes in 14 to 22 feet during the evening hours. Deadsticks and spoons are both working. Panfish reports have been limited, but there haven’t been a lot of people fishing them.
Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355
RED WING AREA
When the weather allows, boats continue to show up on the Mississippi River. Slower presentations such as jigs and plastics or Dubuque Rigs are producing sauger and a few walleyes along current seams below the dam. Ice conditions are marginal at best, with pockets of open water still showing in the bays and throughout Lake Pepin early this week.
Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334
RICHMOND/ST. CLOUD AREA
You’ll find 4 to 6 inches of ice on most lakes, but there are pockets of open water and thinner ice still being found, so you really need to check it as you go. Anglers have started walking out on area lakes but report varied ice depths throughout them. Fishing reports have been limited to a few walleyes during the evening hours on a couple of spots being fished on the Horseshoe Chain of Lakes, while panfish action remains slow.
Channel Marine and Sports
SAUK CENTRE AREA
Anglers are finding 6 to 8 inches of ice, and some ATV use has started on a few lakes. You’ll find sunfish on the north end of Lake Osakis in 12 to 21 feet and Maple Lake in 12 feet. Walleyes are being caught in Red Barn Bay on Sauk Lake in 12 to 16 feet and north end of Osakis in 12 to 18 feet.
Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155
STAPLES/LITTLE FALLS AREA
Most lakes now have 6 to 8 inches of uniformed ice, and anglers are walking on most or starting to use ATVs on a few. The east side of Lake Alexander is giving up walleyes, not far off shore, during the evening hours well into the night. Crow Wing Lake is worth hitting in 18 feet for walleyes and crappies, while Moose Lake is producing a mixed bag of panfish in 12 feet or so.
Da Fishin’ Hole (320) 631-0056
Reports indicated 6 to 8 inches of ice throughout the area early this week. The Starbuck end of Lake Minnewaska is producing walleyes in 14 to 17 feet during low-light periods. Lake Emily started giving up walleyes on deadsticks and rainbow minnows in 6 feet. The Glenwood end of Minnewska is kicking out a mixed bag of panfish in 9 to 12 feet from the DNR access to the swimnming beach.
Last Cast Bait and Tackle
Lake conditions vary from small pockets of open water up to 5 inches of ice on a few areas being fished. Lake Shetek is giving up walleyes in less than 6 feet early and late each day. The Milan Bridge area on Lake Lac qui Parle is worth hitting for walleyes as well. For the most part, anglers are just starting to venture out on a few more lakes.
Borch’s Sporting Goods