Fred's Live Bait and Tackle Northern Minnesota Archived Fishing Reports Fall  2005

"A Northern Minnesota Fishing Tradition"

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Archived Fishing Reports December 2005 Thru March 2006

February and March 2006

Fishing Report 5-7-06 Great Weather Gets Anglers on the Water Early

    Itís been a great spring already for folks who want to get out early and catch a few fish before the Walleye season opens on May 13th, 2006. The sunny days and warm afternoons have sent Bluegills and Crappies into the isolated shallow bays and a few main lake locations where vegetation like cattails or floating bogs warm up in the sunshine. There are several areas around the Grand Rapids and Deer River area where folks can access these warm bays from shore and another handful of small lakes where folks are fishing in boats already. The panfish are located in really shallow water right now, 1 to 3 feet depths, so the most common approach is to rig a 1/16 ounce or 1/32 ounce jig below a small bobber. Fish with small crappie minnows or wax worms and donít be afraid to fish in dark bottom muddy areas or in fairly heavy weeds close to the shoreline. Reports are also, coming in from some folks who have been heading to Red Lake for Crappies and so far, they have reported doing well. If the weather continues to be warm, this early run could last a few more days. Thereís generally a lull between the initial run and when the spawning begins in mid May.
    The season for angling to catch and keep a Sturgeon opened on April 24th and continues until May 7th, 2006. If you buy the $5.00 Sturgeon tag, you are allowed to keep one fish between 45-50 inches or over 75 inches. We did some Sturgeon fishing during the ďcatch and releaseĒ portion of the season and its bee a hoot. Now that the ďopenĒ season has arrived, the crowds have grown in size, but its not that hard to find a fishing spot in Four Mile Bay where the Rainy River meets Lake of the Woods. If youíve never done it, you ought to give it a try. The approach is to anchor adjacent to a ďdeep holeĒ and try to locate where you can fish the edges of the hole (like you would fish the drop off on a lake). Using an egg sinker, bell sinker or flat, river sinker in the 1 to 2 ounces weight range and a short leader with a 2/0 hook, gob on a night crawler and fish the bait on the bottom. Thatís it, wait for a bite and reel Ďem in.
Iíll be posting some updates about the outlook for the season opener, so check back in a few days as we get the fishing report season rolling into high gear.

Sucker on spring spawning run

Maybe not as glamorous as the Walleye Run, the spring run of Suckers has a charm all it's own and for my kids, it might be more fun than any other fishing they do. 

Katie Sundin with Sucker caught in spring

Love at first sight, Katie would rather fish for Suckers than Walleyes! The spring Sucker run is starting now and we'll be looking forward to canning up a batch. Don't turn up your nose at these great fighting and good eating fish. They can be caught with a hook and line, speared or even dip netted next week.

UPNORTH Fishing Report 4-21-2006 Jason Green

Spring Progression Ahead Of Past Years

Mallards are back spring ice out 2006
If You Look Closely You Can See A Pair Of Mallards Behind The Timber.  We Found What Looks To Be A Nest Close By.

Spring Progression in the 1000 Grand Lakes Area over all is ahead of schedule.  Most of the area lakes were open roughly a week early compared to past years.  With the unusually warm weather Mother Nature has kicked things into high gear.

Our smelt run for the most part is now over.  I heard reports of a few good evenings but the main run took place while ice was still found on the lakes.  The quick warm up seemed to really mix a few things up.  Several of the area streams have both Pike & Walleye spawning creating an awesome site for spectators.

Cutfoot Sioux walleye stripping has been going strong for almost a week now and appears to be just about over.  If you are not familiar with stripping it is a remarkable

process.  Walleye are caught in nets and held till they are ripe.  When ripe the eggs are stripped, fertilized and then taken to the fishery to hatch.  After hatching many of the fry and fingerlings are stocked in area lakes.

Not only is Mother Nature kicking things into high gear but so are the area Resorts.  New cabins, fresh paint, and the final touches to make your stay comfortable are wrapping up.  A few even have their docks in waiting for your boat.  If weather permits my boat will be hitting the water this weekend to hopefully take care of the spring itch!

If all goes as planned I will have a Pan Fish Report for you the beginning of next week.

Geese on open water Spring ice out 2006
The Sounds Of Geese Honking And Loons Singing Are A Perfect Sign That Spring Has Arrived.

See You On The Water!  (218) 327-8183 -

Fishing Report 4-17-06 Cutfoot Sioux Walleye Stripping Operation in Full Swing-Jeff Sundin

Ducks returning to White Oak Lake, Deer River

Here's the landing at White Oak Lake just South of Deer River. Ice is gone, ducks are returning and fishing season is nearly upon us.

Folks gather to watch Walleyes at Little Cutfoot Sioux

Folks are gathered to have a look at the first wave of Walleyes to move into the trap nets at the Cutfoot Sioux stripping station.

     Except for a few chunks of ice floating around here and there, the ice is out on all of the Grand Rapids and Deer River area lakes. With several warm and sunny days in a row, surface temperatures are rising and the Walleye spawning season is under way. We took a quick trip up to the Cutfoot Sioux Walleye stripping station on Sunday and as expected, we got a look at several nets full of Walleyes that have come in to the trap nets since they were placed in the water last Friday (4-14). Although the fish are in various stages of readiness, there were at least some of the fish that are "ripe" and the stripping is set to begin today (4-17). It looks like this could be a re-run of last yearís early spawn where the entire DNR operation at Cutfoot Sioux only lasted about a week or so. If you happen to be close by, you might want to head up there early this week to catch a glimpse before itís too late.

     Around the region, folks are finding Perch, Crappie and Bluegill from some of the early season shore fishing spots. Perch of unusually large size have been coming in from a couple of shore fishing spots on the Mississippi River and the Crappies have already moved into the tiny inlets and fingers. This early run only lasts a few days, so if you can make it out this week, you'll likely be rewarded for the effort. We took a look at a couple of our favorite early Sucker run locations, but did not locate any good schools yet. Assuming that the good weather holds, the Suckers should be running by next weekend.

     Weíre looking forward to round two of the Sturgeon run on Rainy River and as water levels drop, the water clarity and temperature will improve this week encouraging the Sturgeon spawning run to get into full swing. Anticipate larger than normal crowds up there this spring as there are a few large groups planning expeditions in the next week.

Walleye at DNR Hatching Operation Cutfoot Sioux

Walleyes making their way to spawn in Little Cutfoot Sioux are captured in trap nets, then the eggs are stripped, fertilized, hatched and finally stocked back in to a variety of lakes in the region. Without Walleye stocking, many lakes wouldn't be able to provide anglers with an opportunity to catch a Walleye.

Walleye swimming in holding nets Cutfoot Sioux

What a sight, Walleyes all gathered in one place like this kind of give folks a tingle. Imagine fishing in a spot like this one. Wow!

Arnie Nichols with his first Sturgeon

Preparing for round two of the spring Sturgeon run. Next week should be prime time to catch and release a big one.

Ice Report: Stick A fork In It! It's Done. Alternatives? How About Sturgeon,

Minnesota's Most Unique Fishing Opportunity? 4-6-06 Jeff Sundin


Here's the landing at Little Ball Club, one of the smaller Deer River area lakes. Not much left to work with here.

Tamarack Bay on Lake Winnie. Ice is out in the bay and receding out into the main lake fast!

The ice fishing conditions in the Grand Rapids and Deer River area are changing faster than you can keep track of right now. I took a little tour of the area and while there were still a few places to get on the ice and fish (as of 4-6-06), I think the odds of finding safe ice this weekend are poor and I canít recommend heading out anywhere. I think itís time to turn your attention to the opportunity to get out and fish open water instead.

For us, the Rainy River is handy and while the rising water and muddy conditions have made Walleye fishing tough, the Sturgeon fishing has been unaffected by the rapidly changing conditions. If youíve never tried this before, itís simple enough to do and youíll never believe the fight thatís packed into one of these critters. Right now, itís entirely catch and release, so keep in mind that it canít be a meat trip.

To get started a heavier than average spinning rod, heavy casting rod or even a Musky pole will work. We used a 1-1/2 ounce bell sinker and a short leader (one to two feet long) with a 2/0 hook. Night crawlers are the preferred bait and you simply gob it on the hook. To locate fish, find a deep hole on an outside bend, near a dam or behind an eddy. Anchor the boat, drop your sinker to the bottom and youíre in business, they donít always locate in the hole itself, but theyíll be near it. Youíll get clues to location if you watch the surface of the river because these fish come right to the top, splashing and rolling as they try to attract spawning partners. Where you see surface activity, try several anchor positions until you connect with fish.

It looks like this recent weather system may have passed us by and itís possible that receding river water could possibly make the Walleye fishing manageable again next week. It will take a bit of luck, but it could happen and we have until April 14th to get back up there. So check after the weekend for an update on river flow and Walleye opportunities.

Closer to home, remember that the panfish will move into shallow bays and inlets almost immediately as the ice goes out and this is a prime opportunity to catch some Bluegills and Crappies. Watch the isolated shallow areas and try them as soon as they open up, especially on a sunny, warm day. Check the fishing articles section for some more information.

Rainy River Sturgeon Arne Danielson

Sturgeon Danielson and Dorholt Rainy River

Spring Fishing Opportunities Offer the Cure for Cabin Fever. If You Act Now! 3-30-06

     Well folks, if you can find a free day in your schedule this week, you might just be able to find one last opportunity to get out and do some fishing. The window of opportunity is open, but not for long.

     This weekís warm weather has really hustled the spring meltdown along and snow cover is disappearing almost before your eyes. Ice cover on area lakes is still generally good, especially on lakes that havenít been heavily traveled. Even though some folks are still driving, I donít think you can count on driving vehicles on the ice anywhere from here on out, but ATVís are going to be okay for a while. I have all but given up on ice fishing for the season, especially now that weíve made it out on the inaugural spring Walleye trip to the Rainy River. But, there are some friends hinting around about fishing Tulibees and Bluegills. Those are both prospects that could get me back out on the ice at least once more before the ice leaves us for another season. Another hot tip that just came my way this morning was that folks are also catching limits of nice Crappie after dark. There have been several times this winter where the bite was really "time sensitive" and if history is repeating itself, this after dark bite will probably last another week or so.

     By now, most everyone who follows the reports has heard that the Rainy River is open. As always, the window of opportunity is small, but we did manage to get up there on Wednesday and had a look at conditions. The landing at Birchdale is wide open and the landings at both Frontier and Vidas are within a day or two of being open as well. There were folks sliding boats down the ice banks and into the river at both of those landings on Wednesday, but the bigger rigs were heading for Birchdale. The current is very manageable and none of the creeks or rivers had begun running so far. Traffic is heavy, but well organized and if you have a little patience, the experience should be worth it.

     As we checked favorite spots in our usual territory, fishing for us was kind of sluggish until late afternoon when we finally found a better school of fish. Apparently we either moved far enough to find them or the fish had just began feeding better on their own. Either way, from about 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM the action was much steadier and there were quite a few boats catching fish in the surrounding area. If there was such a thing as a "hot bait", it might have been a ľ ounce round jig head yellow & orange two tone. We caught fish on several other colors as well and the biggest fish of the day came on a 1/8-ounce glow & blue two-tone bugeye. We used Rainbows, Spot Tail Shiners and Fatheads. All of them worked fine and while itís probably a good idea to have a little variety just in case you need something special on a certain day, you probably canít go wrong with either the rainbows or shiners.

     Weíll be keeping tabs on things this weekend and weíre hoping to get back up there before the flood waters start flowing, so check back in a few days for an update.

Rainy River Birchdale Landing Traffic 3-28-06

The crowd is large, but well organized, If you have a little patience the trip will be worth it.

Link to Walleye Bill Powell, Rainy River

Rainy River Walleye Fishing

Walleye Rainy River At Birchdale

Spring Transition Time. Last Chance For Ice, First Chance For Open Water!

Bill Powell with a nice mess of Perch

This will probably the last week when you can have the best of both worlds. With the ice conditions still good enough for vehicle traffic and if your tired of ice, hook up the boat. The Rainy River is now open for big boats. Its hard to believe how fast the conditions changed on the River last week. It was barely open enough the slide a boat over the ice. By the reports I got yesterday some of the guys are having very good luck, one boat said they got 90 Walleyes one day. The Blue Gills and Crappie are starting to bunch up on the edges of the shore line drops so they're getting a little easier to locate. I heard of one local guy that caught a nice bunch of Perch, Crappie and Blue Gills out of the same hole on the edge of a weed line in twelve feet of water. I had been getting Perch in the 20 to 22 foot range but on the last outing had to move up the side of the break to 15 feet of water before we got into the bigger Perch. Out deeper they all seemed to be on the smaller side. The weather forecast looks to be on the warm side next week so it won't be long to we're back to ATV's and Snow machines, but I'm still on the hunt for a few more Tulipie to fill a smoker, so bring on the nice weather.
Bill Powell - Fred's Bait 218-246-8710

Late Season Perch, Crappie and Bluegill Fishing Report - Bill Powell

After a short blast of winter and now some nice weather we are finally getting out and about to see what the fish are up to. The last two times out we had to work for our fish.

I have had many reports of the fish being on the smaller side but we must have got lucky, with a little sorting went home with a meal of nice sized Perch each time. In the last couple days I've been hearing reports of Perch coming from a little shallower water but most are still fishing in the 25 foot plus range. Although we have had several inches of snow in the last week the warm weather dropped it quite a bit so if you are careful, mobility is still good with pickups.

The Crappie action on the local lakes is picking up after about a month of spotty action. The last couple days of sunshine with warm evenings has seemed to give them a jump start.  Hopefully this is what we needed to get the good spring time bite rolling. The best time has been a half hour before dark to about a half hour after with the morning bite being just as good as evening. A small glow jig fished 2 to 6 feet of the bottom has been the norm and if you have electronics and can get the fish to chase your offering up, most generally they will inhale it.

There have been several guys that stopped by this week on the hunt for Gills. Generally a bait shop won't hear from a Gill fisherman that is on a good bite since they can be so hard to come by. All I get is a grin if I ask how they did. But by the way we have been selling Euro-Larve and Wax worms I can tell that the bite must be okay. I find that Blue Gills can be a little frustrating to find because there location can be so different from one body of water to the next. On one body of water they are staged. in a hole that is 25 feet deep 6 feet of the bottom.

Chester Powell showing off a nice pair of late season Perch

 These ones can be caught by hovering a jig and waxie just above them and letting the aggressive ones come to me.

On another lake their on the outside of a weed bed in about twelve feet of water and I find if I use a spring bobber leaving the jig 6 inches off the bottom and just stand back and watch for a little movement I have the best luck. Yet on another lake they are on the back side of the weed bed, these kind of fish are my favorite to target. I like to drill three hole together so I end up with a big window to see the bottom when I put my portable over the hole. Sometimes it takes a little while for the fish to show up after all the noise from the auger, but site fishing these Gills can sure be fun.

It don't matter how much I like the hard water season, a couple of these 40 degree days get me dreaming about the Rainy River. With the way things are shaping up I don't think it will be long and they will be sliding boats over ice to get to a little open water so if I don't see ya on the ice in the next couple weeks maybe I'll see ya in a boat. - Bill Powell

Ice Fishing Report 2/17/06 Winter Returns with a Vengeance!

link to Lake Trout picture

Ironically, now that weíve spent most of the winter trying to reassure folks that the ice conditions have survived the warm weather, winter has decided to dish out a sample of a good old-fashioned Alberta Clipper. As I write this report, itís 20 degrees below zero with a wind from the Northwest at about 20 MPH. I did head out on the lake today and lasted about an hour before returning home to plan a re-match for later in the week. It crossed my mind that weíre only 12 weeks away from the open-water fishing season, so itís going to feel like a short winter no matter what happens for the next few weeks.

Somehow, snow that has hit other areas of the state has continually missed our area and ice conditions continue to improve. When this cold front passes, we should be looking at excellent travel conditions for folks who want to travel up for some late season panfishing. The DNR announced yesterday (2-17) that the Northern Pike and Walleye Season has been extended until February 26, 2006. So if you read your regulations and thought it ended this weekend, you have a bonus week that you might want to take advantage of.

Iíve been trying to get a great fishing report together all week long. Frankly itís been tough to get really fired up because the fish are in what Iíd call a three-day cycle right now. They feed fairly well one day, not at all on the second and maybe thereís a decent run of action for an hour or so on the third day. If you are able to fish a three-day stint, youíll certainly have good fishing on one of the three.

The consensus among everyone Iíve talked to has been that the fish are enjoying the huge supply of baitfish from the fantastic 2004 year class. If you can be where theyíre feeding on the right day, youíll do well. If you find them after the binge is over, you will see lots of fish on your electronics, but youíll have to really tease them to get a bite. There are always exceptions and the folks, who explore new water and locate lakes that havenít been fished hard, continue to have better than average fishing. This has been particularly true for Crappie and Bluegill anglers.

Walleyes are already in the early stages of moving toward spring locations and Walleye fishing on mid-lake structures is showing signs of winding down. If you want to take advantage of the last week of fishing, Iíd suggest fishing shallower points that extend out from the main shoreline. The presence of baitfish is the key. If your screen is blank during the day, move on until you find a location where you see minnows on your Vexilar. The fish will run again late in the afternoon and early evening.

If you can locate any green weeds at all, youíll be able to locate Bluegills working just on the outside edges of the cover. They have been sticking tight to the weeds during the day, but run fairly steadily for an hour or so every afternoon just before dark. A 1/16-ounce glow-bug or similar jig tipped with a wax worm will do great.

We done a little more Trout fishing and the action appears to be holding up. Reports around the area are better than average in both size and numbers. They have moved significantly deeper than we found them earlier this winter and we wasted several hours looking for fish in the 40 to 50 foot range without even a sighting. Moving out to about 65 feet in a small hole produced many more sightings and another nice Trout. In my opinion, if weíd found that spot a couple of hours earlier, weíd have picked up another fish or two. I know that doesnít sound like a lot of action, but the surroundings are terrific and the time goes by fast when your chewing the fat with friends. Having a few fish close to home is kind of a nice option to have in your bag of tricks. The best Trout bait weíve seen so far this winter has been the Perch Pattern Airplane Jig by Northland Tackle. A shiner added to the hook (where itís legal) has caught at least one fish each time out.

Perch fishing reports are coming in spotty with some folks finding good schools of fish and others missing the boat. The early morning bite still produces more reliably than later in the day, so a good strategy would be to fish Perch until Lunchtime, take a break and get set up for panfish or Walleyes in the late afternoon.

As soon as the weather settles back down, weíll get back out there and take a look at some of the spring spots and see if the move is on.

Good Luck! Check Back For Updates!

The Early Bird, Jeff Sundin Fishing Reports For Northern Minnesota

Well with January now behind me all I can say is wow that sure was a beautiful one and I'm lucky enough to have good friends that invited me along on some trips to some of Itasca County's awesome lakes that I haven't fished before.

Crappie, Perch and Pike Ice Fishing with Chester Powell

From Perch, Crappie and Blue Gills to Trout, Pike and Walleye. It's no wonder this is called God's Country.

From what I've seen and heard the fishing reports have been above average on our local lakes. Most likely the good weather and the beautiful conditions on the lakes is the biggest contributor making it easy for mobility. Most are drilling more holes and moving from spot to spot which usually puts more fish in the bucket at the end of the day.

Winnie has some of the best conditions I've seen for mid winter with good drivable ice and not much snow other than a handful of pressure ridges, mobility is very easy.

The Perch are starting to move a little deeper with a lot of them now coming from around 25 feet of water. A few being caught deeper in the much which are very nice size but hard to catch because they seem to always be full and there are several still coming out of shallow water which usually means weeding through some small fish to get nice ones. Walleyes are still being caught in the morning and evenings on the main lake humps in around 20-25 feet of water.

Red lake reports are getting better every week.

Limits of Crappie are now being heard of and the Perch seem to have gotten a little bigger over the summer with some of them almost making the jumbo category. Driving conditions are good, but are advised not to stray too far from the roads with heavy trucks.

Most of our smaller lakes have good ice for ATV's or snowmobiles, but conditions for pickups needs to be checked first due to varying ice depths from lake to lake. The daytime Crappie bite seems to be a little slow lately with an up swing just before dark. But we found out on our last trip that these smaller lakes can produce a nice mixed bag from Crappie, Perch, Northern or Tulipie, making it fun just to see what might come through the hole every time ya set the hook.

Hope to see ya on the ice.

Ice Report 2/1/06 A Lesson In Timing!

I donít know how conditions for ice fishing could get much better than they are now in the Itasca county region. We continue to get night temperatures just cold enough to keep the ice that weíve already got, but warm enough during the day to make conditions pleasant for fishing. Last weeks meltdown means that snow cover is practically non-existent on area lakes and this has helped to keep the surface ice solid with no slush to worry about. There are quite a few lakes where folks are driving trucks without problems, but if you have a ATV, conditions are perfect for using them right now. The down side, there is very little if any new ice forming. So, youíll still need to be cautious about choosing a lake and avoid areas where ice can deteriorate. Current areas, springs and places where vegetation above the ice could cause melting should all be avoided.

Snow cover is all but gone, driving conditions are good with ice thickness of about 20 inches.

Fishing this week has been a lesson in timing and humility for me. It seems like everywhere Iíve gone, the fish were nearby but rarely biting. I should have been there earlier, later or on a different day altogether. Itís been common to get good reports from some folks, while others are struggling. Itís also been common to see lots of fish on the Vexilar, but have to work really hard to get a bite. For reasons known only to the fish, the better fishing reports have been coming in the mornings lately and my normal advice about fishing the evening run doesnít appear to be a good game plan right now. Your best bet is probably to get out on the ice earlier in the morning than usual and fish until early afternoon.

Perch reports are varied with some fish coming from water in the 22-foot range and some from deeper water, out to about 30 feet is producing well for some folks right now.

 There are still some shallow fish too, but these are generally smaller fish. Folks fishing the shallow water are sorting through many small fish to get a few keepers. Finding newer schools of fish is easier said than done, but is a key and if possible, try splitting up your group to locate fish and then compare notes and regroup whenever someone finds a better school. Perch eye jigs, jigging Rapala and the larger blade baits like the Demon are producing some fish. On Monday, my best bait was a 1/16-ounce Perch Eye jig with a tail hooked minnow. I usually like to jig a little, but right now, Iíve been better off leaning the pole on a bucket and standing back to watch.

Crappie fishing is still going fairly well, but they too are running better in the morning hours. Locations havenít changed much. Theyíre still following the steeper edges of shoreline breaks and using deep main lake holes. They do seem to be making bigger moves lately and once fish move through an area, they seem less likely to come back. There have been a couple of excellent reports from friends who have gone back into the off beat lakes and found fish that havenít been pressured. This sounds hard, but there are a lot more of these little lakes than you think and with travel conditions this nice, it would be a great time to branch out and try some lakes you wouldnít ordinarily be able to reach.

The Northern Pike dished out a bit of the same sluggish treatment this week. Seeing some fish and catching a few of the smaller ones, the minnow tycoon, Bill Powell did have a close encounter with a big Pike this week, but couldn'tí quite get the fish to eat. He drilled a few holes together and covered up in his nice black portable fish house so he could watch the fish. It seems like the fish have so much food to choose from already that your timing just has to be perfect to get to a spot while the fish are moving on their own. After that big Pike made several appearances without taking the baits, it came back and aggressively hit a small Bluegill that Bill was releasing. Apparently, she could afford to be choosy.

The Early Bird, Jeff Sundin Fishing Reports For Northern Minnesota

January 2006

Ice Report 1/19/06 Ice Conditions Stable Fishing Is Good!

Listening to the radio and television weather reports lately can give you the impression that thereís not enough ice in Minnesota to float a boat. But ice conditions in the Itasca Area, (generally North of a line from Aitkin to Walker in the North/Central Portion of Minnesota) are good and improving daily. Even though the temperatures have been moderate for this time of year, it hasnít been so warm as to allow the ice to deteriorate. Now, thanks to a cold snap during the past few days, weíre seeing new ice forming again. In fact, the temperatures at night have been ranging from 0 to 10 degrees so itís actually improving fast. Snow cover is still really light on our area lakes and even though there was a bit of drifting due to Tuesdayís cold, Northwest wind, it hasnít hampered travel on our lakes at all. Weíve seen a range of ice thickness depending on the depth of water, Iíd say we have about a foot of good clear ice on the deeper lakes and up to 20 inches of good ice on the ones that froze earlier. The atmosphere has improved as well. Sunny afternoons seem to intensify the afternoon runs of Walleye and Crappie making it easier to make a quick trip out for "the evening bite".

Fishing this week has been interesting for me. Although Iíd be hard pressed to characterize Minnesota Lake Trout Fishing in our area as fantastic, anglers who want to give it a go, should take note that there are opportunities that offer folks a reasonable chance of catching a nice Trout. We were blessed on the Lake Trout Opener this past weekend with a nice catch of three Trout, a couple of lost fish and another half dozen Vexilar sightings. All things considered, thatís not bad. Best of all, we didnít have to get a passport to do it!

Matt Mattson with a nice Northern Minnesota Lake Trout

My good friend Matt Mattson outdoes me again! Here's a nice Minnesota Lake Trout caught on an Airplane Jig tipped with a 4 inch Shiner.

We had our best action on Northland Airplane Jigs and also on jigs n rigs ľ ounce tube jigs with long, heavy hooks stuffed into a 3 inch white Berkley Power Tube. Jigging spoons that work well at times didnít fire them up too much this week, but Iíd carry a small assortment of spoons like a Castmaster or other heavy blade spoons. Donít get yourself over-quipped to fish the Trout. The same rod youíd use for Walleye or Pike with an upgrade to 8 to 12 pound test line will do fine and youíll get more hits than if you fish with the heavy stuff. My favorite rod is about three feet, medium/light with 6-pound line. If you hook a Laker, use the "back reel" instead of the "drag" and take your time. You will get them in on light line!

Perch action can still be found in shallower water of 6 to 12 feet. This is probably still the preferred location for lots of Perch that continue to chase the huge schools of minnows inhabiting the shallow drop off areas. Winnibigoshish in particular has had a better shallow water bite right now.

Bill Powell Northern Minnesota Perch Fishing Expert

Sunshine during the day seems to improve the quality of the Perch action and intensifies the late afternoon bite for Walleye and Crappie. Bill Powell shows off a nice Perch that came from 23 feet of water.

Ice fishing for Walleyes in the Itasca area is usually best on the deeper main lake structures. Although main lake humps are still prime locations, weed edges in shallower water are producing some late afternoon fish and it could be a better bet right now. We located a clear spot on the edge of a large weed bed consisting of mixed Coontail and Northern Milfoil. During the day, we had several sightings but not many hits. At about 4:15 the first Walleye hit and the action was good until about 5:25. Even though I usually like the deeper structures in winter, my next trip for Walleye will be back into the shallows.

Itís been a while since Iíve done any serious Pike fishing, but there are some rumors floating around. It sounds like some of the smaller lakes are producing decent catches of better than average size Pike. Iím going to try and work this into the schedule this week and I hope I can give you a report on that next week.

Crappie fishing has still been yielding reports of good action and the system is just what youíd expect. Find the deeper holes adjacent to steeper shoreline breaks and watch your electronics for suspended fish. There were some reports this week of early morning action for Crappies. Iíve missed out on it because we havenít been getting started very early. But thereís no doubt that the afternoon run is still a good option. Yesterday we fished a lake where both Crappies and Perch were present in deeper water. There were large schools of minnows coming and going and The daytime bite consisted entirely of Perch but at about 3:00PM one phantom Crappie hit my demon. We had to leave before the evening run, but Iím sure that had we stayed, the Crappie run would have started in an hour or so.

The Early Bird, Jeff Sundin Fishing Reports For Northern Minnesota

Fishing Report 1/10/06 Bill Powell

 I hope everyone has had a chance to get outside and enjoy the balmy weather it has really been kind to the fishermen in our area with good ice and just enough snow cover to make mobility easy.

I was lucky to get out twice in the last few days to chase Perch and what ever else would take our baits The first was to Bowstring with hopes of catching some Perch in the afternoon and Walleye about sun down. With the help of my hand held Lowrance and its map chip I started out on a long point at twenty feet of water and drilled a row of holes up to ten feet in search of the magic depth we caught several Perch in the fifteen foot range so I popped a few more holes in that depth to concentrate on till just before dark when we moved up to the shallow holes in hopes that the Walleye would show up for supper. Well they must have went else where that night cause we didn't see any but can't complain for we had a nice mess of Perch.

 Although Milacs lake probably started out being the hot spot for the ice season it sounds like Winnie has taken over the conditions are better than we have seen in the last couple winters. The fishermen that have a very open mind are doing very well on Perch Walleye and Northern ya might think I'm insulting some of you but by this I mean all them places you have locked in your GPS from other years might not produce fish right now. The fishermen that are fishing the shallower water are by far coming home with a bigger bucket of fish. So Sunday after hearing all the good reports we were off to Winnie to try or luck because I have a fat diesel pickup we brought the snowmobiles so we could get to a spot that I've been wanting to try and to my surprise nobody else had been there yet giving me even a little better feeling knowing we weren't fishing educated fish. We drilled holes on a sharp drop from six feet down to twenty feet finding fish from about nine to about eighteen although we had to sort through a lot of small Perch we ended up with a nice mess from eight inches to a true jumbo measuring just a little over thirteen inches later in the day we also got a nice bonus with four Northern Pike and three Walleyes. My top producing lure
this week was a gold colored Kastmaster tipped with a small Shiner minnow and I also caught several on a small Jigging Rap tip with a small Shiner head.

Till next week, hope to see ya on the ice!- Bill Powell

December 2005

Fishing Report 12/29/05 Bill Powell

The warm weather this past week isn't making any ice, but I don't know of any lake that you can't get out on with at least an ATV or snowmobile. I know I've sure enjoyed the ability to roam from hole to hole and not have frozen fingers or have my line stuck to my rod tip. We were lucky to enjoy two nice days chasing fish this week. The first day we tangled with some Perch and Crappie on one of the local lakes. Something that has been producing many of our bites this year has been tipping our jigs with a small Spot Tail Shiner. Several lakes had a big hatch of Spot Tails in the last year and the fish in these lakes have been gorging on them. So if they're going to eat they don't think twice about inhaling one of these little morsels.

The second trip was to a lake way of the beaten path that has a big population of Northern Pike and some nice Blue Gills. The reason for choosing this lake was that I had promised my son Chester that we would try spearing a Northern over Christmas vacation and I knew our chances at getting one in the hole on this lake was good and I would get a chance at some winter Gills. After drilling a hand-full of holes, we located twelve feet of water, cut a hole, put up the portable shack and went to work with a live sucker decoy and a red and white decoy that I've had for years. He was lucky it was one of those days when the pike coasted in and seemed mesmerized by the decoys instead of coming in, slamming it and leaving just as fast.

After spearing his first one, I could see he didn't need me hanging over his shoulder, so I grabbed the auger, my lightest jig stick and a tub of waxies and went in search of Gills. I caught a lot more Perch than I did Gills, but since I don't get much of a chance to fish them in the winter I feel good just icing a handful.

 Till next week, hope to see ya on the ice!- Bill Powell

UPNORTH Ice Fishing Report 12-28-2005 Jason Green

A Happier New Year


With the New Year quickly approaching we finally made the time for our first hard water outing of the season.  What an incredible feeling to be out again!

Over the past week warm daytime temperatures have caused most of the snow to melt making vehicle traffic easy.  Minimal snow cover and falling mercury after dark are still aiding in making descent ice.  Increasing ice thickness is allowing more permanent ice houses to congregate and small shanty cities are appearing across the frozen tundra.

It sounds like a good portion of anglers are spending their time hole hoping to produce fish.  We had our luck

working a hump that peaked at 12 feet and went out to 19 feet.  18 feet near the base seemed to produce more fish throughout the day but now and then the rod would bend up top.

Quicker snap jigging and a teasing approach is getting a better response using an Eye Dropper, Buck Shot Rattle Spoon or Doodle Bug Spoon tipped with a small minnow or the head of a medium size shiner.

Have a safe and happy new year!


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See You On The Ice!  (218) 327-8183 -

Fishing Report 12/14/05 Bill Powell

With our hard water season getting well underway, I was finally able to get out and see for myself what the condition are. Most years I've had a few trips to the lake under my belt by now, but as many of you know when stopping in this fall, we added a new yellow lab to our collection. Although our kids have been small game hunting with me for several years, the new pup sure sparked more enthusiasm among us, especially in our son Chester. On one of our hunts this fall, after walking for a couple hours and not flushing a grouse he asked where they went and what can we do to have more of them. During deer season I had seen a couple Martin and a Fisher. Even though it has been a few years since I've trapped fur, I asked Chester if he wanted to try his hand at trapping, and maybe we could thin some of these predators out and the grouse would rebound a little faster. We set out five covey sets and the next day it rained and froze all the traps so we had to start over from scratch. We ended the season very lucky with a limit of two Fisher and three Martin so Chester has a little jingle in his pocket for Christmas presents.

I heard reports this week of fishermen driving their trucks out on some lakes, but the two lakes I tried only had 8 - 10 inches of ice, not enough for trucks. The dark house fisherman are having a tuff time as for some reason most of the favorite lakes froze very cloudy forcing them to look for smaller lakes with good clarity. The only good Perch reports so far have come from the west side of the Winnie where the rivers run in. The same things are happening on Lake of the Woods. It froze up in the wind making it very cloudy but the areas around Pine Island where the river runs in is clearing things up producing some nice Walleye.

The smaller lakes have really been giving up some nice Gills and Crappie this week and so far the conditions are very favorable for those on foot or with an ATV, but that could change with snow in the forecast. I was lucky enough to meet up with a local Crappie Fisherman on one of these lakes, he pointed me in the right direction, and man did we catch Crappies. Till next week, hope to see you outdoors.

Ice Report 12-08-05 Cold Weather Improves Ice Conditions Jeff Sundin

After a week of below normal temperatures and cold Grey days, the ice has really started getting good. Some folks in the area are reporting early Ice conditions that are better than they have seen in recent years. Area lakes range in ice thickness of anywhere between 4 and 12 inches, so youíll still have to do some research. But, this coming weekend should be the unofficial opening day for anglers in the area.

Some dark house anglers have found there way out on to Bowen's Flat on Big Winnie

There are a handful of Dark Houses located on Bowen's Flat on Big Winnie. Look for traffic to pick up this weekend as spear fisherman hear about the improving ice conditions.

Red Lake anglers are getting out a couple of miles from shore and reporting good action. Everyone (that I know of) is using ATVís and Snowmobiles, but thereís talk that there will be light vehicle traffic on the lake this weekend. Winnibigosh has a small number of houses on the main lake, with some folks reporting up to 12 inches of ice out there too.

There are several anglers using the shallow shoreline ice to park vehicles and leaving from there with ATVís to their fishing spots. Folks fishing on Winnie (mainly dark house anglers so far) are not reporting hot action. The dark skies weíve had this week are not encouraging for spearing. The first sunny day we get will like trigger a spurt of action.

Anglers in the Deer River area are parking vehicles on ice in the shallows of Winnibigoshinsh

Crappie and Bluegill anglers are showing up in light numbers so far, Crappie action is spotty with some anglers reporting "decent fishing" others report a slow start. If past history holds true, the next two weeks will be the best Panfishing of the season.   Copyright © Jeff Sundin 2005

Ice Report 11-28-05 Grand Rapids Area Freeze Up, Slow but Sure! - Jeff Sundin

Well folks, here we are. After a nice break from the action to do some hunting, Iím back in the office as we stare down the throat of another Northern Minnesota Winter. Even though thereís not a lot to report on just yet, weíre only a week away from the beginning of another ice fishing season and Iím sure there will be lots of folks looking for the ice conditions up here this week. So weíll call this the "kick off" for this winter fishing season.

Bowstring Lake South landing on 11-28-05. Frozen as far as the eye can see.

Above: The South landing at Bowstring Lake. There is ice as far out as the eye can see and I walked on firm ice in the shallows out about 100 feet. This is one of the better situations I found in the area.

Below: White Oak Lake. Another lake with ice cover as far as I can see. Jagged ice formed during high winds about a week ago. It's not pretty, but it was walk able for me yesterday.

In spite of natureís best effort to get us into the deep freeze, we continue to receive these warm reprieves that set us back to late fall over and over again. The photos you see here were taken yesterday, 11-27-05 and as you can see the ice is forming, but except for the shallowest lakes in the Deer River Region, there are none that have full ice coverage. Another set back may be in store for us as we had light but steady rain all night long last night (11-28-05) and the current temperatures are above freezing.

Above: Moose Lake North of Deer River, Heavy, jagged ice around edges with thin ice covering most of the rest of the lake. There were several visible open spots toward the center of the lake.

Below: Deer Lake, North West of Grand Rapids is completely open at this time. If you want to fish here, bring your boat!

With the changing weather, it's hard to predict whether we'll have some additional freezing tonight or not. The official DNR advisory is that no ice in the State is currently safe for fishing. It's absolutely necessary to call before you travel up for the spearing opener this weekend.

I will be posting additional photos as the travel conditions improve. Look for an update on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.   Copyright © Jeff Sundin 2005