Ely Minnesota Fishing Reports


Lake trout continue to captivate anglers' attention on area trout lakes. A good number of trout were taken in recent weeks and the action should continue right on through the end of the season on April 1st. Most successful anglers are bringing fish out of the holes by active jigging, whether it be spoons like: Slender Spoons PK's Flutter Fish, Tinglers, or Tumblers: soft plastic jigging lures such as tubes from Gitzit and Berkley: or other soft paddle tail baits. These are active presentations and one must keep the bait moving and work the water column from bottom to top.  Pay attention – some fish will chase the baits from the very bottom in fifty feet or so, all the way up to just below the ice. For the more laid back angler, a frozen smelt or live, small, sucker fished right on the bottom under a tip-up or dead stick will do the trick too.


Crappie anglers are taking to the ice with the moderate air temperatures. The weather is important as anglers should stay mobile when fishing crappies.  Schools tend to move around more at this time of season rather than holding in one spot. One can use a shack as a place to warm up, but the best way to approach crappies is to be mobile and drill as many holes as you're comfortable doing.


Some folks are having moderate success with the local sunfish. This action should increase as the season progresses and temps begin to become more comfortable. Small jigs tipped with minnow heads or waxies have been working well.


Ely Chamber on Feb 21, 2018

Lake trout and stream trout are the hot catches these days. Anglers are fishing for rainbows and splake from early a.m. through the afternoon. Tiny jigs tipped with a couple of wax worms are producing plenty of action, as is smaller salted minnows. Most fish are taken within fifteen feet to just below the hole. Many trout will cruise just under the ice, picking up insects that collect on the underside of the ice throughout the night. Lake trout are lighting up angler sonar units, but are sometimes slow to respond. A smelt fished right on the bottom using a tip-up can be an effective enticement. Some lucky anglers are pulling up 8-pound lakers.


Crappies are responding to live minnows fished near the bottom in depths between twelve and twenty-one feet. This fishing action should continue to improve as winter wears on.

Ely Chamber on Feb 05, 2018

Lake trout have become the number one target for those looking for some action, and for the most part have been rewarded with some decent catches. The number one method is a run and gun approach with tube jigs and small spoons. A close second has been to lay a smelt right on the bottom under a dead stick or tip-up.


Rainbow trout have been a hot topic as well. Most fish have come by either using a small jig tipped with a wax worm or dead, salted minnows in shallower depths. Try fishing down from six to fifteen feet beneath the ice for best results. Those fishing for splake  splake are using these same methods in shallow water close to shore.


Crappie action has been light as is usual at this time of the season, but should gain momentum in the next few weeks.


Ely Chamber on Jan 29, 2018

Trout fishing is drawing the majority of anglers to the lakes in this area recently. Limits of rainbow trout have been caught recently on area lakes. Most folks are fishing for these beauties from just under the ice to depths of fourteen feet. Baits of choice range from tiny soft-bodied jigs tipped with wax worms to fresh salted minnows. Remember, that only dead minnows are allowed on designated trout lakes. The best fishing times are during mid-day with a minor surge in activity at daybreak.


Lake trout are another piscatorial species for most diehard fishermen with decent numbers reported. Some hearty souls are traveling to the Boundary Waters and report moderate success. While no true giants are coming to the scales, many three to six pounders have been caught with a few approaching ten pounds. Many waterways have only minimal snow cover and decent ice beneath it, so travel by light truck, sled or four wheeler appears to be no problem.


Walleye fishing is challenging.  Anglers there are finding it is better to move often to attain the best results. Minnows on a dead stick will work, but a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head will tempt the more aggressive walleyes into biting. This is where it pays to have good electronics and use them to locate roaming schools of walleyes that are chasing schools of bait fish. Just like open water fishing, if a spot is not producing, then try another location.


Most lakes are sporting at least sixteen inches of ice, but it's best to drill as you go when approaching choke points and moving water. Remember that no ice is ever considered safe – safety first ALWAYS!

Ely Chamber on Jan 22, 2018

The trout fishing opener had a less than stellar turnout this year, undoubtedly due the arctic temperatures which had the thermometers registering around minus thirty degrees here in the North Country. Those folks who did venture out had moderate success, much in part to many anglers staying in their shacks, rather than moving around in the frigid wind. Fishermen reported the fish were not as aggressive, with tales of many fish dislodging the hooks easily – not typical of this feisty species. Travel conditions on the lake were good though, with many areas having an ice road to navigate across. The recent snowfall hasn't had much of an effect for travel as it is mostly light and fluffy.


Walleyes are hit or miss as of late. Anglers fishing in water depths from twelve to sixteen feet of water are having some success. It doesn't seem to matter whether you’re fishing with a dead stick or actively jigging, both tactics seem to work equally well.



Crappie action is slow, but should begin to build momentum as the season wears on. A number of area crappie lakes are producing.

Ely Chamber on Jan 15, 2018

With the recent sub-zero temperatures most of the area lakes have a good foundation of clear solid ice covering them. Please continue to use caution traveling on area lakes.  Portions of lakes with any type of current may only have an inch or so of ice – even with all the recent cold weather.  Continue to check ice thickness, particularly if you are not familiar with the lake you are traveling across.


Walleye fishing seems to be slow to moderate, with the best action occurring after dark. Live minnows on a dead stick seems to be the preferred method for most, but many of the more successful anglers are using small spoons tipped with a minnow head and slowly jigged starting on the bottom and worked up through the water column. For best results, change the minnow head often, since once the bait gets washed out, they become less effective.


Crappies are beginning to co-operate on some of the smaller lakes and small minnows under a bobber have been working well. Many folks are now using some of the micro plastics as they can be fished faster, with less down time baiting hooks when the bite is on.


Northern pike have been the target of many, whether it is by spearing, or using of tip-ups. The best action seems to come from using dead bait such as suckers or frozen smelt fished right on the bottom. This could be due to the extremely low temperatures, the fact that the fish have to expend less energy chasing live offerings, or a combination of both.


Trout season opened in the Boundary Waters on December 31st and many people are making the trek up into the remote lakes with good success. Trout season opens outside the Boundary Waters on the 13th of January and quite a few folks have been gearing up for that opener, which should be great this year in light of the favorable ice conditions.

Ely Chamber on Jan 02, 2018

More and more anglers are heading out on the ice recently and have been met with moderate success. Ice anglers and spearers have been racking up some impressive catches of northern pike from the areas local waters. Most have been working near shore waters in depths from six to twelve feet. Pike have been readily hitting dead or frozen sucker minnows and smelt fished right on the bottom. It appears that they aren't interested in chasing live bait as they are vacuuming them up from the lake bed.

Walleye fishermen have had some decent catches recently, although many are stating that a good number of those caught are undersized fish and are reluctantly releasing them. Some of the keepers though are of good size fish up to twenty inches. Buckshot spoons or jigs tipped with a minnow head or minnows on a dead stick have been paying off.

The crappie bite has been slow to materialize, but a few folks have been connecting with some slabs in the thirteen inch range. This fishery should improve as the winter season wears on.

The ice conditions vary widely, with some open water still being reported. Best places are the shallow, protected bays. While most people are using common sense, there are exceptions, as there are the few with total disregard for safety that are driving full size vehicles out on ten inches or less of ice. There are no fish out there worth risking your life over.  Go out, have fun, but please exercise caution, and return safely.

Ely Chamber on Dec 18, 2017

Walleye action remains steady for the most part with fish holding in twelve to twenty feet of water. Reports of lake turnovers are at best premature. Water temps are still in the upper 50s. Bait of choice these days has been spinners tipped with a crawler slow trolled along the bottom, although some folks still rely on a jig and minnow to tempt some into biting.

 Northern pike are still on the prowl, and they're hungry. Try fishing spoons and spinners along deeper weed edges. Some fish over forty inches have been taken recently, although most have been in the two to five pound range.

 Crappie action has been heating up as well. Cooler temps are triggering a fall pattern where they start to bunch up. Some of the larger lakes have been leading the pack, but smaller lakes have been turning out good stringers of crappies, and some fat sunnies.

Ely Chamber on Oct 11, 2017

Just when you think you have the walleyes figured out, they change things up. Some anglers were reporting that the walleyes had gone deep. Lately though, anglers are catching them throughout the water column: some in thirty feet of water, some in seven feet. Go figure. The best advice right now is to keep watching your sonar till you mark some fish and then go after them. Most are still using crawler harnesses, but a good number of fish are hitting crank baits fished just above the bottom. Jig and minnow combos are a great enticer too.


Anglers are beginning to converge on area crappie fishing holes as the action there is beginning to heat up. We still don't have the big schools bunching up, as the water temps are still a bit high at sixty four or five degrees, but this is soon to change as evening temperatures begin to fall. Crappie minnows are still the bait of choice, but safety pin spinners with a jig and soft tail make a good search tool: slow troll to find the concentrations of fish. Watch for marks that are suspended mid-way in the water column, as this quite often represents the presence of crappies.


Many folks are chasing pike too at this time of year. The biggest fish of the season seem to get active at the onset of cooler weather. Big suckers fished right on the bottom will fool northerns time and again, but this can also be the time to dig out lunker crank baits and work over the deeper weed edges and rock piles to bring giants to the net. This action should continue right up till ice begins to form.



Ely Chamber on Sep 26, 2017

The cooling water has pushed some of the walleyes down deep. Try working crawler harnesses along the drops in the deepest part of the lakes. Some folks are reverting back to a jig and minnow combo with great success. Color of jig or spinner blades are not as important as location. If you're not marking fish, move on. Some walleyes are still roaming shallower water late in the day as water temps begin to rise in the evening. Slip bobbering a minnow late in the day in ten to fifteen feet of water can be very effective.

Crappies are beginning to bunch up. Search for them suspended around mid way in the water column. Trolling a small safety pin spinner and jig like the Beetle Spin or tiny crank baits can lead you to the schools. Once located, you can readily catch them either on a live minnow suspended under a slip bobber or on one of the many small plastic baits rigged on a jig, such as the one inch Berkley Gulp minnow.

Pike are starting to put on the feed bag too as winter approaches. Large crank baits, spoons, and spinner baits are working well. One can also use larger sucker minnows either suspended under a bobber, or just take a dead or frozen one and lay it on the bottom. Really big pike seem to prefer to take this easy meal as opposed to chasing at times.

Lake trout are beginning to move up a bit in the water column as lakes cool. Try trolling spoons or cranks in forty to fifty-five feet of water.

Ely Chamber on Sep 18, 2017