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Minnesota Statewide Fishing Reports
INFO AS OF 3-23-15
The lakes have been a bit sloppy due to the relatively warm temperatures and melting snow, but as long as the entry points hold up, you can still travel on the ice. Many folks are out there every day and they are hauling home some nice fish. There are still plenty of trout to be caught, but not much time left to catch them. Trout season for the Ely vicinity closes March 31st. Area trout lakes are still producing lake trout in excess of ten pounds. Active jigging is very effective, but some fish continue to be caught on ciscoes fished right on the bottom. Other trout lakes are giving up some nice rainbows, splake, and brook trout. Small salted minnows and small jigging spoon and wax worm presentations are the best bet here. Crappie fishing is in high gear, and it seems the number of holes you drill is related to your success rate. Anglers that remain mobile have had a great advantage. Artificial baits are beginning to out-produce live baits. Small chubby darters, jigging raps, lindy darters and other jigging lures are good lures to start with as their bulk tend to attract the larger, more aggressive fish on the initial drops. The extra weight allows you to drop down quickly, and when you're hole hopping, this is very helpful. 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
Duluth - Lake Superior and inland waters
Anglers are greatly enjoying being able to fish outside and leave the shelters at home. Unfortunately, the shorelines are softening up and caution must be used when venturing out. At the time of this report, most area lakes were still able to support wheelers and foot travel, but it is unclear how much longer this will be an option. Since the first ice to go is along the shorelines, keep track of the wind in case the ice sheet moves to the other end. Anglers are encouraged to lend a hand and help clean up the ice--if you see trash on the ice, please remove it. Fishing around the area has been good. Crappies are being pulled from the basins by anglers using vexilars. Wax worms and smaller tungsten jigs seemed to work best, however, fish were also caught on dead sticks with crappie minnows. Most of the crappies have been suspended. Bluegill action was also good. 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com
Some anglers continue to venture out onto Grand Rapids area lakes, but extreme caution has been necessary, and vehicles are no longer an option. Expect conditions to change rapidly as temperatures turn warmer and daylight hours grow longer. 800-335-9740; www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
Some resorts still have their ice fishing houses out on Lake of the Woods. Some resorts are still transporting customers via ice transport. Conditions can change on a daily basis--please work through resorts when venturing out. While the lake ice remains in decent shape where the resorts are fishing, the bays are getting sloppy. Fishing improved this week. Mixed reports are coming from 20-24 feet of water at Pine Island. Morris Point is giving up lots of pike, as well as some walleye bite in 26-28 feet of water. Anglers fishing Arnesen's and Long Point are reporting improved walleye action this week, along with some pike activity. Anglers are preparing their boats for open water fishing on the Rainy River. Earlier this week, open water extended 5.5 miles east of Birchdale, with open water visible in the middle of river in front of Birchdale. Up at the Northwest Angle, walleye action remains strong, with lots of jumbo perch mixed in. A good morning and evening bite is being report in 20-26 feet of water on the south end of Oak Island. Some anglers are still doing well on the east side of Little Oak. Pike anglers are having success. Again, use a resort or outfitter to be sure you have the most current information on conditions. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Bemidji Area Lakes
Lakes in the Bemidji area have lost their snow cover and have been doing some serious melting in the past week. There is still plenty of ice away from the shoreline, but anglers are seeing the accesses degrade due to the run-off from melting snow and ice. The good news for those who love ice fishing is a cold snap is in the forecast through the weekend, with the freezing overnight temperatures firming up the ice. Anglers are on their own when deciding how to deal with the ice conditions late in the season. Anglers with ATV’s should be able to get out on most lakes this weekend, but the days of driving on the ice with full sized vehicles are coming to an end. The angle of the sun, the overnight temperatures and the amount of traffic traveling through the accesses are all important variables in deciding what accesses are the best late in the season. Accesses on the north and west shores of lakes tend to break up faster than accesses on the east and south shores of lakes, simply because of the angle of the sun. Perch have been very active on most of the larger lakes, but anglers usually have to sort through a lot of smaller fish to catch enough “keepers” to take home. Perch have been slowly filtering into the shallows, with many of the larger fish still holding off the edge of the drop-off. Perch usually prefer shoreline flats that are covered with chara, with some rocks and old standing weeds. The chara provides crayfish, insects and even minnows a place to hide late in the season, before the new weed growth begins. Crappies and sunfish have also been active in many of the smaller lakes. Crappies have been holding on the edge of the drop-off, while the sunfish have been using the old weed beds that still offer some cover. 800-458-2223; www.visitbemidji.com
Even with the recent warm temperatures, Detroit Lakes' area lakes have decent ice thickness, with no snow cover on top. Vehicles are no longer an option, and four-wheelers will probably be an option through the weekend; foot travel will be the only open after that. Please note that ice conditions can deteriorate quickly this time of year. Conditions are better on the ice early in the morning due to below-freezing temperatures overnight. The tullibee bite is reported to be slow compared to previous years, but some are getting caught over deep water. Sunfish and crappies have been active in the shallow weedy areas. Small jigs with wax worms or minnows have been best. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com
The information in this report is provided courtesy of Explore Minnesota Tourism.