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Minnesota Statewide Fishing Reports
INFO AS OF 2-27-15
International Falls - Rainy Lake & the Rainy River
Rainy Lake walleye are hitting shiner minnows in 25-30 feet of water around Sand Bay and at the structure east of Dryweed Island on the Park Service Ice Road. Morning hours and about an hour before sunset have been the most productive times. Expect to also take crappies and perch in the area around Dryweed Island, although most will be slightly off the bottom. The best bet for northern pike is a tip up around the mouth of Cranberry Bay. Trails in the area are all in great shape providing access to all sorts of structure off the snowmobile trails for those with portable gear. There are quite a few great spots close to the staked Lake trail to Kettle Falls--you will be able to spot the areas where others have set up and that’s as good a place as any to start. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org
Another walleye and pike season has come to an end for Minnesota’s inland waters, but that doesn't mean you should put away the poles just yet! Anglers can still take advantage of some great trout, sunfish and crappie fishing, with some of the best action of the winter season right around the corner! The reduced traffic will also allow fish more peace below the ice so they can resume their normal feeding patterns. Area stream trout lakes hold large numbers of trout and the access to these lakes has been easy overall. Try a subtle approach during the first couple hours of daylight while using tiny presentations such as ice flies tipped with a wax worm, then, as the sun rises, get more aggressive with small spoons. Crappie action will begin to build quickly and continue to improve until ice out. Some anglers have already reported a number of 13-plus inch crappies. 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
Cook County: Lutsen-Tofte, Grand Marais, Gunflint Trail, and Grand Portage
While the walleye and northern pike season has ended on area waters, the trout season is in full swing. Anglers fishing Trout Lake, located about 11 miles north of Grand Marais, report fish schooling in waters roughly 50 feet deep. These fish are feeding on minnows and dead ciscoes. Lake trout are active all winter, and like to be near the bottom in deep water. Gunflint Lake, near the end of the Gunflint Trail, is reporting lots of action. From now until May offers some of the best trout fishing all year. Don’t miss the Trout Derby on Sunday, March 8, with great trout fishing and snowmobiling on area lakes. The event starts at the Gunflint Lake boat access landing. Complete details. www.visitCookCounty.com
Duluth - Lake Superior and inland waters
Unstable weather patterns and temperatures have led to some inconsistent fishing action. Just last week, Lake Superior laker fishing was good for anglers using tube jigs, jigging raps, and heavy spoons in 50-100 feet of water. But, that was last week since the area producing fish, north of Lester river near Brighton Beach, is now dangerous due to poor ice conditions. The ice remains steady in the Beacon Point area but it’s hard to say how long it will remain fishable. Anglers have had success here with a mixture of lakers, white fish, herring, eel pout and a few cohos. One group even landed a 45- plus inch sturgeon pulled from more than 75 feet of water. Large numbers of burbot (eel pout) have also been reported. These nocturnal feeding machines have been a fun surprise this year, with anglers doing well in the shallows using almost anything with a minnow head. 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com
Ice fishing has taken a different twist as anglers turn their attention to crappies, bluegills, trout, and tullibees for the rest of the winter. Small baits will be a key to success, and anglers will want to stay on the move until they locate active fish. 800-335-9740; www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
Lake of the Woods gave up some “monster” walleye this week, along with a nice mix of eating-size walleye, sauger and jumbo perch. One area to check out is the northern part of Big Traverse from Knight and Bridges islands up to Garden Island, especially in depths of 26-32 feet. Some resorts along the south shore are moving fish houses closer to shore, with good results reported. There has been a hit and miss morning bite reported in 15-18 feet of water off Zippel Bay and Pine Island. Some large northern pike were taken this week in front of Zippel Bay. The reefs off of Long Point are producing a mixed bag of fish, with some jumbo perch in the mix. The best colors have been gold, glow red, and pink. On the Rainy River, locals are still catching walleye in 15-20 feet of water, especially during evening hours. Some sturgeon are being caught and released. At the Northwest Angle, fishing remains good around the reefs in depths of 22-30 feet. For the most fish, jig one line, and dead stick a second line. A mixed bag of walleye, sauger, northern pike, jumbo perch and tulibees are being taken. Crappies up to 16-inches in length are also being reported. Please work through outfitters and bait shops and know where you are going on ice. While fish houses must be removed from the ice on Lake of the Woods by Mar. 31, the walleye season remains open on these border waters until April 14. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Bemidji Area Lakes
Unseasonably cold temperatures over the past two weeks have caused the ice to grow so thick that auger extensions have been needed. The gamefish season closed for Minnesota’s inland lakes this past weekend, so many anglers are turning their attention to perch, crappies and sunfish until the gamefish season opens again in May. Most area lakes will produce perch, but for the most jumbo perch hit the larger lakes. The small- to medium-sized lakes are often better for sunnies and crappies. Most of the perch are coming from the edges of the shallow flats, with some perch on top of the flats and some on the breaklines, Many perch anglers are having success using smaller jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head; downsize to a tungsten jig tipped with a wax worm or several eurolarvae if the perch are too finicky for a jigging spoon. Anglers are finding crappies moving out of the deep basin areas closer to the structure. Most crappies have been suspending about five feet off the bottom so electronics have been extremely helpful to get the bait at the same level as the crappies. Sunfish have been holding at the old weed beds so anglers should start searching on the edges of the old standing weed beds and then work their way down to the moderate depth mud flats adjacent to the weeds. Sunfish will hit artificial lures when active, but typically prefer live bait. Wax worms and eurolarvae on tiny tungsten jig matched with light line has best the best producer for most anglers. 800-458-2223; www.visitbemidji.com
Bena - Lake Winnibigoshish
While the walleye and pike seasons have closed, anglers will want to check out the amazing perch bite on the west side of Lake Winnibigoshish. Look to the Snag Hole Bar area and on to the river mouth in 12-30 feet of water. The Sugar Island area north to the Raven Rocks has also been good. Weather fluctuations have caused these fish to relocated from 8-12 foot depths out to 12-20 foot depths, sometimes in the same day. Find them and they will readily bite. Northern areas to check out include the “saddle” off High Banks, and depths of 12-18 feet of water in Tamarac Bay. Sunnies are active in Big and Little Cutfoot Sioux lakes, especially during low light hours. Crappie action in both Cutfoot Sioux lakes has also been good, although smaller fish have been most common. Several of the smaller area lakes have also produced nice numbers of crappies. www.lakewinnie.net
Hackensack -- Leech Lake and nearby water .
The walleye season has closed so it’s time to chase Leech Lake jumbo perch! Good reports are coming from the Pine Point/Goose Island area. With the lack of deep snow cover on top of the ice, start in the shallows when searching for perch and move deeper if needed. Your best bet is to look for shallow weeds that are still standing. For the most jumbos, use buckshot rattle spoons tipped with the head of a minnow. Plastics will also turn some fish. Stay mobile until you locate a school of active fish, then stay on top of them and move when they do! Some anglers report good tullibee action. While the ice heave at Stony Point is preventing vehicle travel from there out to the deep trench, anglers have also had success on the south part of Walker Bay and on the south part of the main lake out from Trapper's Landing. Many area lakes have great panfish populations. Look for crappies in 22-28 feet of water, with fish found suspended off the bottom a few feet. The best approach has been a small jig tipped with a crappie minnow. Sunfish have been at the shallower flats with standing weeds, as well as in deeper waters just off of the breaks. 800-279-6932; www.hackensackchamber.com
The panfish bite should heat up nicely as the temperatures warm through the weekend. Look for sunnies in the weeds in 7-12 feet of water. Little Detroit, Leaf, Tamarac and Sauer lakes have all been consistent producers of quality sunfish. Anglers having the most success are using a teasing jig stroke along with small jigs tipped with waxies. Crappies are coming off the breaks in 15-18 feet of water, with fish found suspended on Melissa, Big Pine, Cotton, Sauer and Lida lakes. For the most fish, use small jigs or jigging spoons tipped with a small minnow, minnow head or waxworm. Bring the kids to the Youth Fishing Derby on Little Detroit Lake this Saturday, Feb. 28, and enjoy a free ice fishing derby for kids ages 12 & under. Rossman Avenue access near Zorbaz. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
Willmar Lakes Area
Anglers had lots of success with walleye and northern pike on area lakes last weekend, with some large walleye pulled from Long Lake. Sunfish, crappie and perch action has slacked off a bit during the recent cold spell, however, the bite should return to a more active pattern as temperatures rise through the weekend. Lakes to check out include Diamond, Eagle, Green, Nest and Norway. Please remember that fishing licenses need to renewed by March 1, and the 2014/2015 gamefish season has ended for Minnesota’s inland waters. 800-845-8747; www.willmarlakesarea.com
The information in this report is provided courtesy of Explore Minnesota Tourism.