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.
The area lakes have seen light to moderate traffic, due primarily to the variable ice thickness. Some lakes have twelve to fifteen inches of ice, mostly in protected bays, while other lakes still have some open water. Some permanent shacks have started to appear on local lakes, but there have been some close calls around thin spots. Always check the ice thickness as you travel, as ice conditions can vary considerably. The walleye bite has been sporadic, with mostly small fish coming to the hole. Work the drops, in fourteen to twenty-one feet of water, to connect with walleye and produce some good sized keepers. Some of the smaller local lakes have been turning out some decent sunnies, crappies, and northern pike. Spearing has begun to rebound in the past few years, and has been met with some good success as pike to forty inches have been reported.
More and more anglers are venturing out as most lakes are sporting at least walkable ice. Mid-sized lakes may have 7-8" of ice. Some of the smaller lakes have 9" of ice on them. Larger lakes ice thickness vary quite a bit from 3-7" of ice, while some of the bays may have 7" or more. Ice thickness still varies widely, so caution while traveling should still be first in your mind.
Fish reports have been few and far between as traffic has been light. Some lakes have been turning out some walleyes, but most are on the small side, while the perch have been near the jumbo category. Some of the smaller lakes in the area have been turning out some decent crappies and sunnies. Wax worms have been the go-to bait for the sunnies when affixed to a dark colored jighead. Crappies have been hitting on small Buckshot spoons tipped with a minnow head or a small crappie minnow on a dead stick.
Pike fishermen and spearers have been having good success near weedy flats. Perch colored jigging lures such as Chubby Darters and Lindy Darters have been producing well for the active anglers, while light colored decoys or live suckers have been luring the pike to the dark houses.
It is still a good idea to drill holes as you travel - do not risk your life for a fish! More ice is coming, count on it.
The much anticipated hard water season is upon us. Lakes in the area all have at least a couple inches of ice on them. A few of the smaller lakes have ice solid enough for foot traffic. Without a lot of snow cover the ice is steadily building, and should continue to do so, as temps remain in the single digits and below zero temps at night.
It should go without saying, but early ice should be approached with extreme caution. Always let someone know when and where you are going and when you expect to return. Safety should be your number one priority. It is advisable to wear a life jacket, inflatable vest, or one of the many affordable flotation suits that are becoming more popular. An ice chisel, also called a spud bar, should always be a part of an early season angler’s arsenal. Drive the chisel into the ice ahead of you every few steps to check for thickness. If the bar goes through, back-out and do not proceed forward.
Carry an accessible pair of ice picks just in case you go through the ice. If you don't think your life is worth the few bucks that picks cost, at least carry a screwdriver in your pocket to use on the slippery, wet ice to pull yourself back out. Also swim your way onto the ice rather than trying to push yourself up onto it.
Every year people die from falling through the ice. Don't be a statistic, be smart, be safe, and live to fish another day.
Check back with us often as creel reports will be available as more anglers hit the ice.
Good luck and good fishing!
Walleye successes recently, have been a hit or miss opportunity on many of the local lakes. Some anglers are reporting good catches of "eyes" in deeper sections of water as the temps begin to fall, in some cases, down to fifty-five feet. Anglers have been relegated to just a few keepers in the fourteen to sixteen inch range while plying relatively shallow waters.
Pike and smallmouth bass action on the other hand has been very good on most lakes as the leaves begin to fall. Live bait such as suckers fished either under a float or slow-trolled in five to fifteen feet of water has been the way to go for some, but just as many anglers have been whacking some really nice fish trolling or casting spinner baits and larger crank baits.
Crappie action remains good with some reaching the sixteen inch mark. Both larger and smaller lakes are giving up some hefty stringers of keepers.