Lake trout season is rapidly coming to an end here in Minnesota with anglers having experienced good success with these tackle testing fish. Active jigging has proved to be the best method to hook into this cold water species. Stream trout action has been sporadic, but some anglers have managed to catch at least a few on area lakes.
Crappie fishing has been somewhat disappointing when compared to past seasons, although there have been reports of decent catches. Live minnows suspended above the bottom where fish begin to congregate seem to be most effective.
A word of caution: lake ice conditions are still good on most lakes in the area, but areas near moving current or constriction points may be unsafe. Please test ice conditions and always put safety first. With the advent of warmer weather, it is only a matter of time when one might have to hang up the ice gear. We have been fortunate here in the north country, as other parts of the state currently have no fishable ice.
Many folks are taking advantage of the fairly mild weather patterns of late to extend their hard water fishing season. Ice thickness varies marginally, but most lakes still have twenty to twenty-two inches of ice. Some thinner ice is still being reported, but it remains mostly where there is some current and flowing water. If you are unfamiliar with lake structure and current flow, test ice thickness as you travel across the ice.
Crappies are beginning to bunch up around deep water structure adjacent to shallow bays in preparation for ice-out and spring spawn patterns. Dead sticking minnows are working well, but small soft plastics on a jig seem to be working equally well to entice crappies. Sunnies too are snacking on wax worm and jig combos and in some cases, the larger ones are taking small minnow rigs targeting crappies.
Lake trout action remains good on area trout lakes. Most action has been attributed to jigging tube baits and dead sticking smelt or suckers. Some folks are taking advantage of the ideal weather conditions and have been trekking into the border lakes within the Boundary Waters. A reminder that trout season ends on the 31st of March outside the Boundary Waters.
Since the close of walleye and pike season, anglers have turned their attention to trout and panfish. Lake trout have been providing a good bit of action in relatively shallow water, from twenty to forty-five feet of water and are responding well to active jigging throughout the water column. Stream trout actively hitting small spoons and jigs tipped with wax worms.
Crappie action has begun to heat up with minnows being the go-to bait, however more anglers lately have been using small soft baits rigged on a jig head. Fish may be suspended a bit off the bottom in some of the deeper spots adjacent to soft bottom bays in fifteen to twenty-one feet of water. Some nice sunnies are attacking the same baits that are being used to target the crappies.
Ice conditions are rapidly changing. Areas near current or constricted points are becoming unsafe. With the recent melt and rain, standing water areas are also creating unsafe areas. Check ice conditions before heading out and while traveling across the ice. Snowmobile clubs are pulling flagging from area lakes and are considering lakes unsafe for snow machine travel.
Another walleye and pike season has been put to rest until spring here in the North Country, but that doesn't mean that you should hang up the poles just yet. Trout fishing has still been productive for lake trout on area lakes. Lake trout have been responding to active jigging in water as shallow as twenty-five feet. Most anglers are using jigging tubes and medium size flutter spoons worked on humps or points rising up from deeper water. Stream trout are hitting small jigs tipped with wax worms or salted minnows.
Crappie action is on the upswing. Some decent limits have been taken and small minnows or white or pink jigs tipped with wax worms are the go to baits. Some large sunnies are hitting the same baits.
While there still remains good, solid ice on most lakes, no ice should be considered safe. Test ice conditions before you start out across lakes and test as you go. This is a good time to make safety a priority and travel in numbers with a good length of rope and flotation devices.
Action remains steady on local lakes for panfish and trout fishermen. Small jigs tipped with waxies are effective, as well as salted minnows and jigging spoons. Many anglers are reporting actual activity right below their drilled holes in less than ten feet of water.
The crappie bite has begun to gain momentum, with good catches reported - some measuring up to fourteen inches. Dead stick minnows are working well, but more and more anglers are discovering the benefits of using small, soft plastics on a jig. Most fish are coming from twelve to twenty-one feet of water and as typical, early and late bite is best.
Sunfish action is really some of the best we've experienced this season with nice limits reported. Jigs tipped with wax worms dominate the bait scene, but some folks are catching some larger sunnies on minnows intended for crappies.
Walleye action is still slow, but northern pike fishermen are picking up the slack. Keep in mind that just about all lakes up here have good populations of pike, and they will readily take a minnow, dead or alive, fished right on the bottom.
Ice thickness remains good with most lakes sporting sixteen to eighteen inches, and this is expected to remain throughout the recent warm-up as just the snow cover is melting. Some slush is evident during the day, but it is less than a few inches deep.
Panfish anglers are enjoying the mild temperatures and steady action on area lakes. Good numbers of chubby sunnies and nice slab crappies have been brought through the ice. Travel is best by sled or four wheelers, but some folks are finding that travel by truck is not out of the question, as most lakes have at least sixteen inches of ice.
Stream trout are still providing action on with small spoons and jig and wax worms being the preferred lures for proficient anglers. Tip-ups with dead and salted minnows work well too.
Lake trout action, while not "hot", has been providing some fun to those fishing trout lakes. Active jigging works best as trout are smacking tube jigs and small Jigging Rap style baits. Most trout anglers are sweetening up their offerings with either a minnow head or whole minnow, just to give the fish a little scent and taste as an added incentive to bite. This same tactic is working on northern pike too.
With the recent colder weather, more lakes have seen the growth of drivable ice. This has been a boon to anglers seeking lake trout on area lakes. Folks are able to venture out to more remote areas free from the congestion near the landings. Some are having success in relatively shallow waters in the twenty-five to forty-five foot depths near deeper drop-offs. White tubes such as pearl white or glow white by Gitzit or Berkley on a jig leads are producing, along with Airplane Jigs and Bionic Bucktails - depending on the lake. The consensus of opinion for the majority of fishermen has been to keep the offering in constant motion.
Stream trout are also on the menu for many as well, with area stream trout lakes all producing well. Small dark jigs tipped with wax worms are luring the rainbows in, while small jigging spoons are responsible for most of the splake and brook trout. Best bet is to work outward from shore as some of the trout are in less than eight feet of water early in the day and seem to descend deeper as the day progresses.
Panfish have been the target of more anglers these days as the lack of walleyes has become more evident lately. Good sized crappies are coming out of area lakes. Small minnows seem to work best, but tiny tubes and other small soft baits have really been coming on strong, by eliminating the need to keep minnows alive when traveling to more remote lakes. Jumbo size sunnies are gobbling up wax worms on small jigs and if reports are true, many are near one pound in size. Many local lakes support good numbers of sunnies, so access to this great fishing opportunity is almost unlimited.
Crappie action is beginning to heat up in the Ely area as ice thickness continues to improve. Travel conditions are less than desirable as the slush has frozen to a rutted mess, but for the determined angler there are fish to be caught.
Trout too have been on the agenda for many, as area trout lakes have been turning out some decent catches. Trout anglers have been using small, dark colored jigs tipped with a wax worm work or salted minnows. Some folks swear by a more pro-active approach and have been using small spoons and Jigging Raps with moderate success.
Pike anglers have also been seeing flags pop up as they suspend sucker minnows under tip-ups. Many of these fish have been on the smaller side of the scale, but a few fish over thirty-five inches have been reported.
Over all, it's a good time to experience some milder temperatures and fun times out on the ice as opposed to just sitting in the cabin with a good book or watching television. We are eagerly anticipating snow this week to enhance local snowmobile and cross country ski trails. Good fishing everyone!
With the low numbers of quality walleyes being reported on area lakes, more and more anglers are changing their focus to trout fishing. Good numbers of lake trout and rainbows are coming in from lakes throughout the area. Although anglers have had to put in some time, they have been rewarded with some nice fish. Most lake trout are responding to active jigging of artificial baits such as Jigging Raps, Slender Spoons, Chubby Darters, and white soft bait tubes. One just needs to work the entire water column and pay close attention to your electronics. Rainbow trout and splake on the other hand are cruising the shallows and most are being caught on small spoons or wax worm tipped jigs within ten feet of the ice.
Some pike are responding to suckers fished near the bottom in relatively deep water down to twenty feet, near submerged structure such as islands and deep reefs.
For many of the anglers heading out for trout opener, conditions were excellent with mild temperatures, reasonably good ice conditions and fish were eager to bite.
Anglers successfully landed numerous lake trout in the three to six pound range and a few eight and ten pound range fish. White jig and tube combos were by far the bait to use, along with Jiggin' Raps, Chubby Darters, and Buckshot spoons. A few anglers also caught some nice walleyes while working relatively shallow water around twenty to twenty-five feet. Rainbow trout were active too with some nice splake thrown in. The rainbows were hitting small jig and wax worm combos and small jigging spoons. A few folks were using salted minnows with some success as well.
Walleye fishing elsewhere in the area was a bit disappointing, as many small fish were caught and released, with only a few solid keepers being taken. Crappie fishermen were still managing to catch some limits from a variety of area lakes.