Minnesota Statewide Fishing Reports
INFO AS OF 1-11-19
Ice fishing remains very good in many areas of the state. Combined with warm temperatures, this weekend should result in even more happy anglers!
Please note that last week's abundant snowfall in the central and northern regions of Minnesota have caused slush to develop on many lakes. Travel on the lakes has also been hampered by cracks and heaves formed by freeze/thaw conditions. Anglers are encouraged to stay on maintained ice roads and trails, and check ice conditions often. Anyone planning to head out should first consult with a local bait shop, resort and/or guide service for the most current ice conditions.
Please take a moment to review the DNR's Ice Safety webpage and Ice Thickness Guidelines web pages.
For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR's Fish Minnesota web page.
International Falls - Rainy Lake & the Rainy River
Ice conditions have improved and more people are getting out to fish. The Birch Point area of Sand Bay on Rainy Lake continues to be the favored spot with walleye hitting on live bait in the morning hours. Colored jigs and bare hooks are both working well when combined with a minnow and bobber. Some anglers are getting out to other areas with structure and finding crappies in 20 to 25 feet of water. The Park Service has staked the green trail from Franks Bay through to Gold Portage and marked the known pressure ridges. The Voyageurs National Park Association is helping with funding to allow the Park to groom the trails during the partial federal shutdown. This has made accessibility easier and safer - thanks VNPA! The Rainy Lake Visitor Center will be open this weekend from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Visitor Center parking lot is available for snowmobilers needing a place to park their vehicles and trailers. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org
Ely Area Lakes & Streams
Lake trout fishing in the BWCA has been excellent. Lakers are being pulled from 30 to 80 feet of water on blade baits, tubes and dead smelt set on the bottom, we’re the top baits over the last week. The deep humps, main lake points and deep water areas near shallow bays have been best. Stream trout fishing inside the BWCA has also been good for many anglers. Flashy spoons, wax worms, salted minnows and salmon eggs fished in 15 feet of water or less near weed beds or downed trees has been very effective. Crappie fishing remains consistent for many anglers but the slush is starting to limit mobility. Most crappies remain deep, in 24 to 30 feet of water. To locate fish, anglers need to punch holes until fish are marked; once found, they have been easy to catch. Mobile anglers able to keep up with the fish have reported the best catches. Wax worms have worked best. Chartreuse, pink and red are the recommended colors for jigs. Walleye interest declined last week as many anglers switched to trout fishing or found that travel to preferred walleye holes was hindered by slush. Still, some anglers continue to get out, finding walleye in 20 to 30 feet of water, especially during the last hour of light and late into the night. Shiners and rainbows have been the most effective. Northern pike fishing remains good to excellent for many anglers, but again, the slush has made fishing some areas a challenge. Anglers having the most success with the larger fish are using heavy sucker minnows or Alewives in the shallow bays and at the weed beds. For faster action with the smaller pike, use lite suckers and smelt. 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
Duluth - Lake Superior and Inland Waters
The bite has been sporadic due to changing weather patterns. Ice is building a bit, and most inland lakes are now supporting vehicle traffic. Angler must still use caution, drive slowly, stick to the plowed roads and spread out. Also, please remember not to drill near an ice road as this causes problems with flooding. When fishing the inland lakes for panfish, concentrate on areas with little fishing pressure at the shallower vegetation off transitions toward basins. Spikes on small jigging spoons have worked well. A few walleye continue to be taken on set-lines at dusk. On the St. Louis River, a few walleye are showing up during early morning and late afternoon hours. The shallows are giving up walleye, northern pike, perch and a few burbot. Dead sticks tipped with a live fathead have been good in 3 to 8 feet of water. Try an orange bead at the hook to add a little more visibility. The shipping season closes this week so the St. Louis River ice should build to safer levels. 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com
Grand Rapids Area Lakes
Recent cold temperatures have helped stabilize ice conditions. Travel, however, has become a bit more difficult due to large amounts of snow and a build-up of slush on some lakes. Anglers have been targeting crappies, bluegills and perch. Drilling several holes and using electronics has been key to locating schools of fish. Sometimes a small search bait such as a #3 jigging rapala or spoon tipped with several euro larvae can call in active fish. Once found, drop a small tungsten jig and fat wax worm from a light action rod. Some of the more productive panfish lakes include Big and Little Splithand, Rice, Bass, Loon, Little Ball Club, Dunbar and Little Cutfoot. 800-355-9740; www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
Most Lake of the Woods walleye and sauger are coming from 27 foot depths during the day, but fish can be found in depths ranging from 19 to 31 feet. During morning and evening hours, fish depths of 13 to 18 feet. Electronics have been very helpful since some of the larger fish are suspended. The best set-up is to jig one line with a plain hook and minnow, and dead stick another with a lively minnow. Effective colors have been glow gold, pink and blue. Some large northern pike measuring over 40 inches have been reported this week. Most lake ice where area resorts have placed their fish houses ranges from 14 to 20 inches thick. The resort ice roads are open to rigs of various sizes. Snowmobile trails are staked from the south shore all the way up to the Northwest Angle. On the Rainy River, long stretches of are unsafe due to heavier than normal current. Some bays have also been affected. Anglers need to work through local resorts that are knowledgeable of current ice conditions. For the best walleye action, hit Four Mile Bay during morning and evening hours. Fishing on the Minnesota side of the Northwest Angle & Islands area remains strong with a lot of slot walleye coming off the structure, and plenty of keepers (sauger and walleye) taken deeper out in the mud. Resort ice houses have been placed over 17 to 24 feet of water. Tackle in pink and white, hammered gold and anything that glows will work best. The ice continues to build despite recent mild temperatures, with up to 2 feet of ice in some places. The current between the islands slows down the ice-making process so anglers must use extra caution in these areas. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Slush is starting to form on area lakes due to the large amount of snow that fell last week. Anglers will need to keep this in mind if planning to head off the plowed ice roads. Walleye and perch fishing have been good this week on Lakes Bemidji, Andrusia, Plantagenet and Big. Fish continue to be pulled from the shoreline breaks in 12 to 18 feet of water, but better numbers are coming off of deeper mid-lake humps and bars in depths of 20 to 30 feet. For crappies and bluegill, look to Grace, Gull, Turtle and Wolf lakes. 800-458-2223; www.visitbemidji.com
Bena - Lake Winnibigoshish
Anglers are catching plenty of fish on the 15 to 25 foot breaks of Lake Winnibigoshish. Look for walleye on the main lake bars and humps in 20 to 25 feet of water, with the most successful anglers staying mobile and moving with the fish. Northern pike remain active on the shoreline breaks in 10 to 12 feet of water, as well as in depths of 20 feet or more on the main lake structure. www.lakewinnie.net
Detroit Lakes Area Lakes
Roughly 16 inches of snow fell in the Detroit Lakes area last week. Fortunately, the significant cold snap that occurred after the snowstorm added a couple of inches of ice to the lakes. While anglers have been driving out onto lakes, traveling off trail and off road is difficult due to the thick snow. Some hard-packed drifting has occurred so anglers should bring along a tow strap and shovel if planning to head off the beaten path. Walleye can be found in 14 to 24 foot depths off the sharper breaks, especially at the end of the day until just after dark. Expect an all-day bite when conditions are cloudy. For crappies and larger bull sunfish, hit the deeper holes over soft bottom areas. Preferred colors will change depending on light conditions. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
Otter Tail Area Lakes
Fishing has been great in the Otter Tail Lakes Country, with large crappies and bluegills being taken. While the basin areas are producing lots of crappies, the larger slabs are coming from the remaining cabbage edges. Start out by drilling zig-zag patterns near remaining green weeds early in the morning to avoid drilling and spooking fish in the shallows when fishing. Tungsten jigs have been the top producer since they can penetrate the weeds. Favorite colors have been orange and red. Soft plastics, wax worms and euro larva are all turning fish. Remember to fish higher in the water column when fishing the weeds and weed edges to give your jig more visibility. Early and late in the day has been best for the true slabs. The walleye bite remains good, but it’s time to move off the first ice breaklines out to the main lake structure such as the humps, points and reefs. Fortunately, good ice conditions are allowing anglers to access these spots. Anglers will need to pay attention to pressure ridges, heaves and cracks that have formed due to fluctuating temperatures. 800-423-4571; www.ottertailcountry.com
Glenwood Area Lakes
As of Jan. 4, anglers reported at least 14 inches of ice with 12 inches of snow on top. Roads were plowed on area lakes but it was still hard to get around. The best option at the time was a small portable pulled out by 4-wheeler or sled. Panfish action was very strong. www.glenwoodlakesarea.org
Isle/Onamia - Lake Mille Lacs
A number of Lake Mille Lacs resorts report roughly 16 inches of ice with greater amounts on the plowed ice roads. Anglers are having lots of success now that the front which brought very high winds has passed. For the most action, try a UV spoon or jigging rapala tipped with a minnow head high in the water column. Learn more at Tony Roach's January 2019 Ice Fishing Video. Also, check out the Mille Lacs Lake Webcams to view lake activity. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
This weekend, check out the 49th Annual Sportsmen's Show in St. Paul RiverCentre. Minnesota's favorite Sportsmen's Show offers the very best in resorts, lodges and camps from the Midwest and Canada. In addition, enjoy early boat, RV and accessories specials, great hunting and fishing seminars, kids' fishing workshop, prizes, the Fur-Ever Wild animal display, a chance to book your next trip right at the show and more. Fun for the entire family! The show runs from Thursday, Jan. 10 through Sunday, Jan. 13. 651-265-4800
Lanesboro/Preston - Southeast Bluff Country trout streams
Check out the "Area Highlights" section on the Lanesboro Area Fisheries web page for stream maps for areas currently open to catch-and-release trout fishing. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
Albert Lea Area Lakes
This 72nd Annual Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener will be held May 9-12, 2019 on Fountain Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Albert Lea area. Located about 75 minutes south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Albert Lea is nestled between Fountain and Albert Lea lakes. The area has 13 lakes, many offering fishing, boating, kayaking and canoeing. In the heart of the city, the 521-acre Fountain Lake features several bays and is home to 20 species of fish, including largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, crappie, catfish and yellow perch. 800-345-8414; www.albertleatourism.org
Anglers may obtain fishing licenses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by dialing 1-888-665-4236, or accessing DNR License Sales.
The information in this report is provided courtesy of Explore Minnesota Tourism.