Reminder: Fishing licenses from 2013 expired Feb. 28th this year as opposed to April 30th of previous years.
Crappie and sunfish along with various trout species are now becoming the targets of choice for anglers still in search of a good fish fry. With difficult travel conditions on most lakes this season please keep in mind that there are still slushy patches underneath the frozen crust of area lakes which will prevent many folks from traveling too far from the beaten path. Where there are still ice roads that have been plowed we ask that you refrain from drilling holes within the roadway. Flooding can and will occur and prevent future travel on the road as the weight of the snow adjacent to the roads will cause water to rise from the holes.
Fair crappie and sunfish numbers have been reported from many local area lakes. Most anglers are using small minnows on a dead stick and jigging with small spoons or jigs tipped with wax worms or minnow heads.
Some nice rainbow trout are being taken, but no ice roads are present there so travel will be on foot or with snowmobiles. We are beginning to see more fishermen trying their hand at rainbows, browns and brook trout. Small spoons such as Buckshots and Forage Minnows are becoming increasingly popular when tipped with either small salted minnows or wax worms. Remember that live minnows are prohibited on designated trout lakes.
Walleye and pike fishing is still allowed on border waters through April 14th when walleye season closes there.
Another walleye and northern pike season has drawn to a close, but it's not time to hang up the short rods and tip-ups just yet. We are on the cusp of some great crappie, sunfish, and perch fishing before the ice gives way to open water fishing. If this season is anything like last year, we still have a couple of months to fish the hard water.
Crappies, some reaching two pounds or more are there for the taking. Deep water is the best target area until the water begins to warm, so concentrate your efforts to the deepest holes on your lake of choice. Bragging size crappies and sunnies roam the deeper pools down to thirty-eight feet. This is where lightweight braided lines make a huge difference for catching fish rather than going home with an empty creel. The small diameter line falls quickly with even the most diminutive jigs, with little or no stretch to keep you in contact with these light biters. Small spoons such as Forage Minnows and Buckshots tipped with a couple of wax worms or minnow heads are excellent choices for probing these depths.
Stream trout and lake trout too can make these seemingly never ending winter days a much more pleasant experience. Spoons, Chubby Darters, and white tubes on a jig can fool these hard and hearty fighters into coming home with you. Another good bait alternative is using a ciscoe fished right on the bottom. Raising and lowering your line from time to time will assure you that the bait will not be residing in a crevice between the rocks or boulders on the bottom. Currently most lake trout are being taken from thirty-five to fifty feet of water, and will gradually head shallower as the water begins to warm. Rainbows, brook and brown trout, and splake can be tempted to bite in six to twenty feet deep. Small spoons or jigs tipped with minnow heads or wax worms can be deadly on these beautiful and tasty fish.
Good catches of walleyes have been reported lately. Anglers fishing in water 18-20' have had the most success. Only a few road accesses are available, but just a short walk beyond is paying off for some folks. Walleyes up to 20" have been reported and most are falling for Buckshot and Forage minnow spoons tipped with a minnow head or wax worms. There are others just using a live minnow under a bobber fished within a foot or so off bottom.
More big pike are coming to the hole when free lining sucker minnows up to 8" long. Concentrate your efforts on areas that have a drop-off from 6-20', or former weed edges. In many of these cases it is just a short walk from the roads.
Limited amounts of crappie and sunnies have been taken using small jigs tipped with wax worms or minnows in 8-12' of water.
Fishing participants are on the lower end of the spectrum recently due to limited travel conditions on most area lakes. Travel remains limited to a few ice roads that were plowed early in the season, but sled travel is still an option, when venturing off the beaten path.
Walleye reports still are mostly positive, however the size of these caught is still on the small size. Lake trout have still been fairly active, as well. The BWCAW is a good option for size and number of fish caught, but the only way to get to them is on skis, on foot or by dogsled.
Decent pike catches have still kept some anglers busy chasing tip-ups in five to fifteen feet of water while using live suckers or ciscoes fished right on the bottom. The coming weekend promises a warming trend into the teens, so traffic should pick up.
Bring the family along to enjoy the Ely ArtWalk and Ely Winter Festival and view the snow carvings in Whiteside Park. The event runs through February 16th.
Fishing action has slowed somewhat, or less fishermen and women are out on the ice. Some of this may be due to the fact that ice travel is very limited as a result of heavy snow and slushy conditions. Walleye bite remains consistent, but over all catches seem to be on the small side. Buckshot and Forage Minnow spoons still enticing the walleyes to bite when tipped with a minnow head and dead sticking minnows under a bobber is perhaps the easiest way to entice otherwise slow biters.
Trout action remains fairly steady with good catches of rainbow trout coming from area lakes. Small, dark jigs such, as black ants tipped with wax worms, seems to be the best method to get them to bite.
Lake trout action has slowed, as well; this is undoubtedly due to the ice conditions where maneuverability is severely restricted.
Still some pike are being caught using either suckers or ciscoes as bait.
Rainbow trout still the hot topic in the area and some area lakes are still producing some decent catches for those willing to brave the sub-zero temperatures. Best baits have been black ants tipped with wax worms and salted minnows are working well. Some are using small Little Cleo spoons and are picking off a few rainbows as well as some decent size splake.
Pike are still being co-operative, as anglers using either ciscoes or sucker minnows fished throughout the water column have been taking some fish to twelve pounds. Shiners have been working well, but supplies are coming up short perhaps due to the extreme cold weather.
Sunnies and crappies are beginning to get some attention. Small jigs with waxies for the sunnies and small live minnows for the crappies.
Some slush pockets on many lakes still remain, so caution when traversing the lakes is in order.
The trout season started off with a bang. Most anglers reporting at least a couple of fish, but others had a field day reeling them in. A good number of rainbows and splake were taken either on salted minnows or small jig and wax worm combos. Most fish were taken in six to nine feet of water, and early in the day produced more strikes. Some area lakes have even been turning out rainbows and brook trout up to 23".
Lake trout anglers were catching multiple lakers fishing in 45-55' of water and one area lake led the pack with fish up to ten pounds and a couple of twelve pounders were reported. The most productive method was fishing rainbow minnows or ciscoes on or near the bottom, but quite a few anglers were actively jigging spoons or white tube combos with moderate success.
Big pike were also on the move with anglers taking quite a few in the 8-10 pound range by using suckers or shiners for bait. A good number of pike are also being taken by spearing and are accounting for monster pike near 20 pounds. Pike too have been slamming ciscoes fished right on the bottom either on a dead stick or tip-ups.
Walleye fishing has slowed and the ones that are co-operating have been on the small side taken with live minnows, but some larger fish to twenty inches are falling for Forage Minnows or Buckshot spoons.
Walleye fishing has been a bit sporadic recently, but some anglers are filling the voids by focusing on northern pike. Jigging for pike using small airplane jigs and spoons has been working for some, but the old tried and true method of using live suckers or shiners under a tip-up or bobber still remains the best tactic. Try fishing the edges of old weed beds where some smaller bait fish remain or points that drop off to deeper water where hungry pike are in search of an easy meal.
Some folks are focusing their efforts on crappies and sunfish with some good success. Small jigs tipped with wax worms are working and small minnows under a slip bobber have accounted for a good number of eating size crappies.
The frigid temps may be keeping some folks off the area lakes, but the hearty ones that are making it out in these conditions are bringing in some nice fish. Suckers and ciscoes seem to be the baits of choice for anglers seeking northern pike and they are having a lot of fun doing it. Some pike up to fifteen pounds have been landed and it's not uncommon for fishermen to respond to several flags up per hour. Walleye anglers too have been tapping into the bounty of fish available. Chubby darters, Rattlin Flyers and small ice jiglets, which are a mini take-off on airplane jigs, are working well when tipped with a minnow head. The more laid back approach has been to just suspend a minnow just off the bottom under a bobber is working well too. Keep some hand and toe warmers handy as the brutal cold temps coupled with the wind are cutting short what could otherwise be productive trips. When temps dip below minus thirty, exposed skin can freeze in ten minutes. There have still been reports of slush under the ice crust on some lakes, so if you are traveling off the beaten path make sure that you carry a shovel and let someone know where you plan to go.