Minnesota Statewide Fishing Reports
INFO AS OF 2-16-18
International Falls - Rainy Lake & the Rainy River
As of late last week, the National Park Service had extended their ice road around Dryweed Island making a large loop to the area of Cranberry Bay and back to Black Bay in Rainy Lake. The loop allowed ice anglers to get out to easily accessible structure holding walleye and crappie. Access the National Park Service ice road was available at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center ramp. The walleye bite has been best late in the day, with fish found suspended using a minnow under a bobber set just off the bottom in roughly 35 feet of water. Sand Bay and the Birch Point area remained very popular. The snowmobile trails were in great shape and all the ski and snowshoe trails were open and in great condition. Check out the Ice Fishing Derby held Saturday, Feb. 24, at Sand Bay on Rainy Lake. For the most up-to-date information on Voyageurs’ ice and trail conditions check Voyageurs National Park’s website. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org
As of last week, the lake and stream trout were providing the best action. Anglers were doing well when fishing for rainbows and splake early in the morning into the afternoon. Small salted minnows, as well as tiny jigs tipped with a couple of wax worms were producing plenty of trout. Most fish are taken between fifteen feet down to just below the ice since insects were collecting on the underside of the ice throughout the night. Lake trout were lighting up sonar units, but were sometimes slow to respond. Using a tip-up with a smelt fished right on the bottom was effective, with some lucky anglers pulling up 8-pound lakers. Crappies were responding to live minnows fished near the bottom in depths of 12 to 21 feet. This bite was expected to continually improve through the end of the ice fishing season. 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
Duluth - Lake Superior, St. Louis River and inland waters
The inland lakes continue to offer lots of northern pike at the weed edges and deeper weeds, flats and humps. The best baits include northern sucker minnows and large shiners on tip-ups. Set the baits near the bottom on the weed edges and just above the tops of deep weeds. Panfish action has been decent once you locate schools of fish. Check the entire water column since the larger panfish have been schooled and suspended. Crappie minnows, waxworms, spikes and plastics on small tear drop jigs have been best. On the St. Louis River,walleye anglers continue to catch a few fish, but action is slow and sporadic. Low light hours offer the best odds for success, though afternoons are sometimes good as well. For the most action, use jigging raps and spoons tipped with minnow heads in depths of 8 to 16 feet of water off the sharp breaks. Seek out areas where pressure is light. On Lake Superior, shore fishing along the North Shore is right around the corner. 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com
Lake Winnibigoshish is providing a lot of perch and northern pike action, along with some nice walleye. The best angling has been off shore and at the humps to the north and west, with nice catches of good-sized perch being taken. Small baits tipped with a minnow head, waxworms or soft plastics fished on the edges of humps and deeper rocks have turned the most perch. The key is to drill plenty of holes. Northern pike are responding to baits fished under tip-ups at the drop-offs near shore and in the Third River area. The walleye bite has been best during a small window at first light and at the last hour or so of the day, but there have been reports of a few walleye taken during daylight hours. Trout Lake in Coleraine is providing good panfish action in several of the bays. Some of the smaller lakes north of the Scenic Highway have been good for crappies and bluegills. Crooked, Long, and several of the lakes south of Bigfork have been good destinations for panfish. The ice is pretty thick so you may want to bring along an extension for your ice auger. www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
Fishing has been a challenge due to the sub-zero temperatures, but warmer temperatures have arrived. Depths of 30 to 33 feet at the deep mud are giving up lots of fish, with some also coming from 24 to 27 feet of water. A rattle on a jigging lure and a minnow on a plain hook or dead stick rod have been the most effective techniques. Gold, pink, and other glow colors are recommended. The northern pike are already active in the shallows. Electronics are extremely helpful, and auger extension are often needed. The Rainy River is giving up some nice walleye during morning and evening hours, with an occasional sturgeon also reported. Most anglers have placed their fish houses along the snowmobile trail from Wheeler's Point to Baudette Bay. Again, the morning and evening bite has been best. Fishing has exceptional at the Northwest Angle recently. Anglers are taking lots of slot fish, as well as many large fish, including a 30 inch walleye. A number of fish houses have been producing sauger all day long, with plenty of walleye mixed in. The best depth has been 20 to 24 feet. Glow and white/gold spoons are recommended. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
The walleye bite has slowed a bit, but anglers continue to take a few fish from Lake Bemidji. The jumbo perch bite remain strong, and these are excellent eating fish. Check depths of 25 to 35 feet using a jigging spoon with a minnow head or wax worm for the most fish. Lake Plantagenet is also kicking out some nice perch. Look for crappies and bluegills on Gull, Pimushe and Turtle lakes. Don’t miss the Kids’ Perch Derby held Sunday, Feb. 25, on Lake Bemidji. This event is free for ages 15 and under, with lots of prize drawings given away. 800-458-2223; www.visitbemidji.com
Walker - Leech Lake
Few anglers have headed out onto Leech Lake over the past week due to frigid temperatures. A few die-hard anglers have reported that walleye continue to come from the Sucker Bay area and at the shoreline breaks along Cedar Point in 15 to 25 feet of water. A few perch are being pulled from 6 to 10 feet of water at the Sand Point and Steamboat Bay areas. Some of the smaller area lakes are producing panfish during the morning and evening hours. The best producers are small tungsten jigs and jigging spoons tipped with a waxworm or plastic. Look for these fish to be close to the main basin as they start staging for their spring transition to shallower water. Plan to attend the International Eelpout Festival taking place Feb. 23 to 26 on Leech Lake this is an experience not to be missed!
Otter Tail Area Lakes
Fishing has been a challenge due to unseasonably cold temperatures. But, warmer temperatures have arrived and should linger into next week! The warmth and extra sun should help shake the fish out of their mid-winter blues. Since the days continue to grow longer, a transition in patterns is expected and all species should soon make noticeable location shifts. If you head to an area that had been productive throughout the winter but find no fish, it’s time to pick a new depth and type of water. 800-423-4571; www.ottertailcountry.com
Despite cold temperatures, anglers had some success this past week. The daytime bite was been good on Willmar and Foot lakes, especially near the golf course. Some good-sized perch were pulled from Big Kandiyohi and Lillian lakes. Lake Kasota has giving up some walleye during early evening hours. The middle and northern ends of Eagle Lake have been popular with crappie anglers. The accesses on Green Lake were in rough shape so anglers were advised to use extra caution when getting on and off the lake with a vehicle. Please note that multiple vehicles have fallen through the ice near the ice heaves. 800-845-8747; www.willmarlakesarea.com
Isle/Onamia - Lake Mille Lacs
As of late last week, anglers were few are far between on Lake Mille Lacs due to frigid cold temperatures. Those that did venture out found that small jigging spoons (number 2 or 3 Swedish pimples or small weasels) tipped with a piece of a fathead on a jig line worked well. The best presentation for the rattle reel/tip-up was a whole minnow on a gold or red moon glow. Northern pike action was best in Cove Bay, especially when using large suckers in 10 to 12 feet of water. On Saturday, Feb. 17, check out the Ducks Unlimited Fishing For Ducks Ice Fishing Tournament at Garrison Bay. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Lanesboro - Southeast Bluff Country trout streams
As of Tuesday, Feb. 13, fisheries staff reported that most area streams and rivers were clear with a normal water flow, however, conditions were expected to change with the warm temperatures forecasted for Wednesday, Feb. 14. On Thursday, Feb. 8, it was noted that several large brown trout had already been caught in 2018. Trout anglers are eager for the upcoming Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo at Hamline University in St. Paul, March 16- 18. This expo is the largest fly fishing event in Minnesota with fly shops, guides, top brands, outfitters and non-profits presenting the newest and best in the world of fly fishing. Anglers will also enjoy over three dozen free programs and seminars, as well as free casting instruction. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
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.