Ely Minnesota Fishing Reports


Walleye fishing remains good throughout the area, with a vast majority of "eyes" coming from less than ten feet of water. This may be in part due to the insect hatches of late, as anglers examining the stomach contents of their catches are finding mostly semi-digested insects. Mayflies are beginning to hatch, which accounts for a lot of the bugs fish are feeding on. Slow crawled leeches or crawlers just inched along the bottom seem to be working well early and late in the day, while a floating jig head can be used during late mornings and early afternoon. Some folks are also having success trolling shallow diving crank baits along transitions or weed edges.


Smallmouth bass are on the beds in many lakes and can be caught with either soft baits such as crawfish imitations or swim baits and tubes worked along the shorelines in less than five feet of water. A few anglers have been lucky to catch some more aggressive bass with top water baits such as poppers or frogs.


Pike are readily smacking spinner baits and small shallow diving crank baits worked along breaks and weed edges. Some anglers are just sitting back and relaxing while live suckers do the work for them.


 A few lake trout have been reported as anglers troll spoons or crank baits down about forty feet in the water column. If you don't have downriggers, you can still achieve these depths with diving planers such as Dipsy Divers, Slide Divers, or a large egg sinker in line with your lures.

Ely Chamber on Jun 19, 2017

While the walleye fishing has been challenging for some, many anglers are managing to find some nice eating size fish. Most of the fish being reported have come from less than ten feet of water. While it may seem logical to fish deeper waters due to warming temperatures (around 74 degrees), walleyes are staying relatively shallow as they follow the bait fish near shorelines. Leeches and crawlers seem to be the mainstay for live bait, however, those trolling or casting crank baits are having equally good success.

Smallmouth bass and crappies are on the beds in many lakes, so they can be targeted in relatively shallow water of three feet or less. Keep in mind that when the fish are this shallow, stealth is of utmost importance. Try to stay casting distance away from them as they do get spooked easily in shallow water. With the smallmouth, watch your line for the slightest twitch as they are not aggressively feeding, but they do try to move the offering away from their nesting site. Soft plastics shine under these conditions whether in the form of swim baits, crawfish or jig and tube combos.

Pike on the other hand have reached peak aggression and will readily take spoons, spinner baits, and just about any top water plug cast in their vicinity. Some folks will also use live suckers or large creek chubs with great success.

Lake trout are responding to either trolled crank baits or spoons run in water from forty to fifty-five feet.



Ely Chamber on Jun 12, 2017

While the big walleyes remained elusive for most this past holiday weekend, most anglers managed to get some nice stringers of eating size walleyes up to twenty inches or so. Most had success trolling spinners with either leeches or crawlers attached or just jigging minnows in shallow water.


Big pike were on the hunt as good numbers of them were reported around the forty inch mark. Live suckers fished under a bobber worked well for some folks, while others used frozen smelt or alewives fished right on the bottom.


A few lake trout are also being caught by trolling deep diving crank baits. The fish were holding in twenty to forty feet of water near deeper drop offs.



The crappie spawn is on hold due to fluctuating water temperatures, although a few nice slabs were reported.

Ely Chamber on May 30, 2017

In spite of the drop in temperatures and the scattered showers, many anglers are having some great success on lakes surrounding the Ely area. Plenty of walleyes are being caught. Reports indicate many respectable stringers with good eating size walleyes in the fourteen to twenty inch range. Jig and minnow combinations are the winning combo for most, while others are using trolling crank baits in relatively shallow waters near shore.


The bigger success stories are coming in from folks fishing either live suckers or frozen smelt and alewives targeting huge pike. Many pike are in the forty inch range with a few nearing the fifty inch mark. Most activity seems to be in shallow water as the pike are on a feeding binge after their spawn.


Lake trout are cooperating and slamming either trolled spoons or crank baits in water from twenty-five to forty feet. They appear to be more aggressive as the water temps are slowly raising.



The crappie bite is temporarily on hold as the water temps dropped just as they were beginning to stage for their spawn.  Fishermen are reporting crappie catches while working the shoreline waters for walleyes.  

Ely Chamber on May 22, 2017

While many anglers failed to fill their stringers, there were others who had no problem bringing in a good batch of eating size walleyes. Most folks were finding the fish in relatively shallow water. Tossing jig and minnow combos along shorelines were the biggest producers, as the walleyes were chasing baits in three to six feet of water. Small crank baits were just as effective with number nine Shad Raps and Salmo Hornets taking their toll on the fish populations. Some shore bound anglers had as much success during these conditions as those in boats. A few big northerns have been reported as fishermen used suckers to lure these toothy critters from their shallow water haunts. Crappies have begun their spawning ritual as some anglers are finding them right up in the emergent weeds in as little as two feet of water.

Ely Chamber on May 15, 2017

The much anticipated walleye opener is upon us, and it's time to address all of the things that we've been putting off until now. First and foremost is your boat trailer. If you can't remember when you last replaced your wheel bearings, now is the time. Nothing sets the tone for the first few trips like breaking down on the side of the road on the way to your fishing destination. While you're at it, take a good look at your tires and running lights. Flat tires and no turn signals are preventable, if you take the time to check.  Make sure you have a life jacket for everyone on board, it's the law! New gas in the tank is also a good idea if you haven't added a stabilizer at the end of last season. Always have your drain plugs out of your boat and live wells until you are at the launch ramp too.  Whether you are from Minnesota or visiting from another state, make sure you are carrying all the items required by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in your watercraft.  To learn more about watercraft safety, required items and licensing, check out this handy pocket sized watercraft manual: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/rlp/regulations/boatwater/boatingguide.pdf


Now, let’s to get down to the important stuff: fishing.  


Many Minnesota anglers rely on the jig and minnow tactic at this time of year, and rightfully so, it is a very effective method. Tailor your jig size to the depth that you're going to be fishing. A quarter ounce of lead or less is fine for water less than twenty feet.  Use a slightly heavier jig when you drop below twenty feet. Remain in contact with the bottom, but do not let out too much line to avoid snagging more rocks than fish.


Another very productive method is trolling or casting crank baits. Fish really seem to key in on these larger profile baits as they are eager to put on some weight following the rigors of spawning. The new super lines and braids are really effective when it comes to long-lining cranks. There is virtually no stretch and when it comes to a hook set with a lot of line out, these new styles of lines are fantastic. Add a fluorocarbon leader of at least three to six feet the end - it really does disappear underwater. Some pros use up to twenty feet of fluorocarbon at the end of the braid so you can trim off some during the trip to avoid retying as line becomes either nicked or abraded. 


Another tried and true method is using bottom bouncers with a spinner. Rig these with either a single hook for minnows, or a two or three hook setup for crawlers. Either way, they are probably the most effective way pros and neophyte anglers alike score big.



The most important thing to mention throughout all of this is to just enjoy ther time out there and be safe. It's always a good idea to wear a life jacket, especially at this time of year when the water is still cold. Be a good mom or dad, friend, and mentor and take a kid fishing too.

Ely Chamber on May 08, 2017

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.

Ely Chamber on Mar 22, 2017

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.

Ely Chamber on Mar 13, 2017

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.



Ely Chamber on Mar 07, 2017

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.

Ely Chamber on Feb 28, 2017