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Minnesota Fish Tales Fishing Report
The Most In-Depth Statewide Fishing Report in Minnesota!

Fish Tales Archive

© 2017 OutdoorsWeekly.com - Copyright Info

- Ben's Bait & Tackle
Bennet or Craig Stich, Junction of Hwy 78 and 210 (218-864-5596)

1-3-Ottertail Lake and West Battle are your best bets for walleye action. Sunfish are biting on Fish and Stalker lakes in 10 feet of water. Crappies are going on West Battle in 10-16 feet of water. For pike, try Clitherall and Ottertail in shallow water. Trucks are driving out on area lakes with up to16 inches of ice reported. Check with us for updates!

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- Veire's Mini-Mart - Visit our Facebook Page
Dave, 117 E Benton St, corner of Hwy 75 and 14 (507-368-4204)

Anglers on the west side of Lake Benton found little action, with relatively little wind. Even the bullheads weren’t biting, and only a few walleyes were pulled out. Action was a little steadier on the east end of the lake, with several nice fishing caught using minnows. Most of the walleyes were smaller males, and many of the females may still be in a pre-spawn pattern.
Rock Lake was also fairly slow, with only a few walleyes coming out, although one group of anglers hooked a channel catfish.
The action on Lake Shetek was also pretty slow, as anglers crowded the banks searching for the year’s first walleyes. Even using a variety of methods, from a bare hook and worm, to Lindy rigs tipped with a minnow, to casting crankbaits, anglers only found a few walleyes worthy of a trip to the frying pan.
Lac Qui Parle had a pretty steady bite a couple of spots on the lake, with the best action coming right at sunrise. Walleyes here seemed to be firmly in a pre-spawn pattern, as most walleyes were caught off shore, vertical jigging from the boat. Small jigs pitched over rocky areas and retrieved slowly caught some heavy pre-spawn females. Fishing should continue to pick up as walleyes cycle through the spawning areas and start to feed heavily post-spawn.

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- Timberline Sport & Tackle
Carl Adams, Junction of Hwy 71 and Blackduck Lake Rd. (218-835-4636)

1-3-Blackduck and Island are producing a mixed bag of walleyes, perch and panfish in 20 feet of water. Try Gull for panfish action in 15-20 feet of water. Up to 18 inches of ice is reported on area lakes, with trucks driving out. Call us for updates!

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- Leisure Outdoor Adventures - www.leisureoutdooradventures.com
Jason Freed, Toby Kvalevog, Jeff Andersen (1-855-LOA-HOOK or 1-855-562-4665)

11-21-Much of Leech Lake is still completely wide open, so the lake is not ready for ice fishing. There are reports of ice starting to work its way out on the South End of the Main Lake, but it is no where near ready to be fishing on safely. Other smallers landlocked lakes are locking up and some have fishable ice in the 3-4" range. These lakes are going to be best for crappies and panfish. Look to the main basins to find these fish roaming or weed flats. It won't be long and some of the bigger lakes will start to lock up, so be patient and get all that ice fishing gear ready to go.

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- Minnesota Fishing Guide Service
www.minnesotaguideservice.com - www.minnesotaicefishhouserental.com
Capt Josh Hagemeister (320-291-0708)

11-21-The river is the place to be. Walleyes are stacked under the dams thick. Any open water I am finding walleyes at the weedline along with nice bluegills and pike on the shallow weed flats. On that note: All applies if you find safe ice which is starting to appear in the northern part of the state on small bodies of water. Lotsa Fish! Lotsa Fun!

- Frankie's Live Bait and Marine - www.frankies.net
Brad, Corner of Hwy 8 and CR 77 (651-257-6334)

1-3-Panfish and walleyes are are biting on Green Lake. Walleye are hitting on Chisago, North and South Center lakes. Pike are starting to bite on most area lakes now. Anglers are driving out on area lakes with up to 15 inches of ice reported. Call for updates!

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- Marine General - www.marinegeneral.com
1501 London Road, on the edge of Lake Superior (218-724-8833)

1-3-Crappies, walleyes are pike are all biting on Fish and Rice lakes. Depths range from 10-15 feet of water. On Lake Superior, try the Park Point area for some walleyes in about 10 feet of water. Please call us for ice conditions!

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- Babe's Bait and Tackle - BabesBaitEly.com
500 Kawishiwi Trail, Ely, MN, first business on the left as you are entering town of Ely from the west on Hwy 169 (218-365-6930)

1/1/18 - With the recent sub-zero temperatures most of the area lake have a good foundation of clear solid ice covering them Shagawa Lake which has seen the most traffic recently has sixteen inches of ice on most of the surface. There are exceptions though, such as parts of the lake that has moving water or necked down place between the islands where there is some current flow. This lake has had some pickup truck traffic of late and there are several ice shacks present there.
Walleye fishing seems to be slow to moderate, with the best action occuring after dark. Live minnows on a dead stick seems to be the preferred method for most, but many of the more successful anglers are using small spoons tipped with a minnow head ad slowly jigged starting on the bottom and worked up through the water column. For best results, change the minnow head often, as once the bait gets washed out, they become less effective.
Crappies are beginning to co-operate on some of the smaller lakes and small minnows under a bobber have been working well. Many folks are now using some of the micro plastics as they can be fished faster, with less down time rebaiting hooks when the bite is on.
Northern pike have been the target of many, whether it be by spearing, or by the use of tip-ups. The best action seems to come from using dead bait such as suckers or frozen smelt fished right on the bottom. This could be due to the extremely low temperatures, or the fact that the fish have to expend less energy chasing live offerings, or a combination of both.
Trout season has opened in the Boundary Waters on December 31st and many people are making the trek up into the remote lakes there with good success. Trout season opens outside the Boundary Waters on the 13th of January and quite a few folks have been gearing up for that opener. which should be great this year in light of the favorable ice conditions.

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- Fish On Bait & Sport www.habitatnow.com
Kyle, 201 S Franklin St, 2 blocks south of stoplights in Glenwood (320-634-3667)

Visit the Habitat Outlet on line at www.HabitatNOW.com for all your habitat needs.  Fish On!

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Swanson's Bait & Tackle - www.swansonsbait.com
Caleb Garoutte, Hwy 371 on the north end of Hackensack (218-675-6176)

1-4 - Ice conditions are much improved with this below zero weather pattern we've been stuck in. Ice thicknesses are starting to even out more. We still recommend that fishermen use caution when going out into new areas and check the ice as you go!

Fishing for panfish has continued to be consistent across the area. With the limited snow some of the smaller backwater lakes are getting fished on foot, and they're finding some real nice gills out there. We've also heard good panfish reports off Woman, Birch, Portage and Moccasin. Crappie are biting out in the deeper water in the evenings. They seem to be moving out of the deeper water and up onto the edges to feed around sunset, and we've seen some good bites into the evening.

Walleye fishing is doing ok as well. We haven't heard of any hot walleye bites yet in the area, but they are catching walleye consistently in the area. Birch, Woman, Pine Mountain, and Baby have been producing a some fish in the evenings on rainbows. Deadsticks and tip-ups with active minnows have been working very well in 18-22' of water. Leech has also been producing some fish, but the action has been similar to many of the smaller area lakes.

We're expecting things to pick up with the warmer temps coming this weekend!

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- Gateway Store kabfishingreport.com - gatewaygeneral.com
Jason and Robyn Cooper, US Hwy 53 & Co Rd 122, 30 miles south of Int'l Falls-Canadian border (218-875-2121)

Ice conditions and fishing report 12/20/17
Anglers beginning to explore more of Kabetogama.
As ice conditions have rapidly improved, anglers are starting to venture out to their favorite spots. There is no vehicle travel yet or advised but 4 wheelers and snowmobiles are able to get to more popular fishing areas. Almost everyone is experiencing great fishing with perch and walleye being the most common coming up through the hole. Casey from Voyageur Park Lodge is encouraged by what he has seen so far and his ice houses are on the lake are ready for business. His new Reef Runner fish houses are easily movable and he will keep you on the fish. As you can see by the pictures he is ready to roll! Casey expects to be transporting guests inside his cozy new track machine just after Christmas. Give Casey a call for the most up to date reports and see what he has to offer.
Spear fishing is still going strong. This has been a great year on Kab with almost everyone experiencing success. Most bays are accessible so the options are endless and the opportunity for that trophy is definitely within reach.
You can't beat spending a day on Kab right now. It's a different kind of quiet and peacefulness and well worth the trip!
Gateway continues to offer the most up to date reports as well as carrying all your ice fishing and spearing needs.
This is just the beginning of what looks to be great winter in God's country!

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- Lake of the Woods Area Tourism Bureau - www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
near Junction of Hwy 11 and Hwy 172 in Baudette, (1-800-382-FISH)

1-8-The arctic temperatures have moved on for now. Fishing is good and fish cleaning houses are busy!  Ice roads permitting trucks and sleepers.  Walleyes continue to spread out and resorts and guides are making the push to deeper water. Dead sticks still hot in most areas with saugers but walleyes are preferring jigging. Spoons or lures with a rattles always a good bet in gold, glow, and pink. The bite for walleyes continues to be very good in 15-18 feet during morning and evening while 25-31 is better for midday saugers and walleyes. If not fishing in a resort fish house, auger extension could be necessary in spots where ice is layered. 

The NW Angle also has good ice conditions where resorts have ice roads / trails and fishing has remained great. Ice depth around the 20-26 inches in places where resorts are fishing. Good walleyes in 22-28' with saugers and perch in water deeper than 26'. Jigging spoons working well in the mornings/evenings while dead sticks with a jig and minnow taking over in the afternoons.  Resorts are guiding anglers to slab crappies in 30' holes on the Ontario side of lake. When done catching your crappies, move on to walleyes or another species as mortality rate is high for released crappies in 25' or deeper.  Snowmobile trails across the lake are marked and groomed.  A complete list of lodging, ice fishing packages and sleeper houses are available at www.LakeoftheWoodsMN.com/Lodging.

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- Sportsman's Lodges - www.sportsmanslodges.com (1-800-862-8602)

1-4- Anglers are seeing more 18”-30” walleyes than normal mixed in with plenty of young walleyes and saugers. A mix of dead sticking and jigging orange, gold and pink jigs, GLO shot spoons, buck shot spoons and plain hooks tipped with a minnow has been the best approach in 16’-28’ of water. Electronics always seem to help. Rentals available but always a good idea to call ahead to reserve, they go quick.

Ice Conditions - Currently we have 20-24 inches of ice in the areas we travel and fish and more in some areas. Our ice fishing trips all include transportation to and from the fish house; we do not maintain a plowed road. If you venture out on your own, Adrian’s Resort and Morris Point Resort have public ice roads near us. Check with them for the latest conditions. Be sure to stay on marked roads and trails. The lake froze pretty rough this year and the entire lake never freezes equally so as always use caution and check local conditions before going out.

Snowmobile Trail Conditions - Lake trails are all marked from Wheeler’s Point to Warroad, Warroad to Oak Island and the Northwest Angle, and Oak Island all the way to Baudette. The south shore currently has several spots of bare ice and anywhere from 0”-8” of snow. We could use another shot of snow. The lake froze pretty rough this year so we strongly encourage riders to stay on the trails, go slow and use caution. Lots of ice chunks sticking up off the trails. Grooming is in progress. The land trails are shaping up.

If you are looking for a weekend getaway, as of this morning we have fishing and lodging openings. Remember we ice fish until the end of March! Two night packages starting at $215 per person. Come get your fish on! Book your trip today by calling 800-862-8602 or booking online. For more information about the trails click here or contact: Lake of the Woods Drifters and the Northwest Angle Edge Riders.

Sportsman's Oak Island Lodge, NW Angle/Oak Island, MN
www.oakislandlodge.com - 800-772-8411

Gold is hot! Gold jigs and spoons tipped with a minnow is the hot ticket this week. We are seeing some nice walleyes, several 20”+ and a few saugers, perch and pike. The best depths have been between 20’-24’. Mornings and late afternoons have been best. Electronics help too! If you would like to give one a try, give us a call to reserve one to rent. We have openings available through late March, more options during the week than weekends. Give us a call for winter fun 800-772-8411.
Ice Conditions - Currently we have 18-20 inches of ice in the areas we fish and travel. If you venture out on your own, be sure to stay on marked trails and roads. The ice is rough this year! Lots of ice chunks sticking up.

Ice Road - The ice road from Young’s Bay to the resort is plowed and it good shape!

Snowmobile Trail Conditions - Lake trails are all marked from Wheeler’s Point to Warroad, Warroad to Oak Island and the Northwest Angle, and Oak Island all the way to Baudette. Up in the islands we have a about a foot snow on the lake and land trails. The south shore currently has several spots of bare ice and anywhere from 0”-8” of snow. The lake froze pretty rough this year so we strongly encourage you to stay on the trails, go slow and use caution. Lots of ice chunks sticking up off the trails. Grooming is in progress. For more information about the trails click here or contact: Lake of the Woods Drifters and the Northwest Angle Edge Riders.

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- Anderson's Resorts - www.andersonsleech-lake.com
Tim, (1-800-516-0077) spirit@arvig.net (e-mail) 

Ice is here to stay, so it's time to start planning ice fishing trip up to Leech Lake! Small rattle spoons with minnow head is the perfect starting point for walleye and perch fishing! Pike fishing is also great at first ice! They like the shallow bays and points when the ice is forming and making lots of noise! Be safe - check at bait stores and check ice regularly! We are not open during the winter months but love fishing out there with you! Never too early to make opener and summer plans! Happy holidays!

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- Chris Kuduk's Guide Service - www.kuduksguideservice.com
For up to the minute reports, call Chris at 320-630-1761!

1-3-Resorts are starting to pull fish houses out and put bridges out. Check with local are bait shops or resorts such as Agate Bay or Bill Lundeen for spots to try. There's a great walleye bite going and it should only get better with ice conditions improving. Smaller area lakes such as Platte, Sullivan, Knife and Anne have a great panfish bite going. Pike are also hitting now in the shallows. Please call Chris for ice conditions and up-to-the-minute fishing reports! Listen to Chris and Stan live from 5-6 pm Saturdays on Outdoor Adventures on www.twincitiesnewstalk.com (iheart Radio)! Or listen to the podcast!

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- Wayzata Bait & Tackle
Tim or Bob, half mile west off I-494 on Hwy 12 (952-473-2227)

1-3-Medicine Lake is producing sunfish. Minnetonka and Independence are producing walleyes in 20-25 feet of water. Pike have been at the weedlines on Minnetonka. Ice ranges from 10-16 inches, check with us for updates!

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- Turk Gierke, Croixsippi Guide Service

12-1- Weather permitting the bite has been good!  Mostly saugers on the St. Croix but if you find them they can be grouped tight.  John and I caught over two limits of fish in 4.5 hours yesterday.

John 'The overgrown Lephrechuan' having fun as always on the Croix with a big sauger. The 'saug dogs' have been biting well!
John “The overgrown Leprechaun” having fun  – as always -on the Croix with a big sauger. The “saug dogs” have been biting well! This fish was released.

So looking back on how late historically I have fished the open water in a boat was Dec. 7th.  That day was very slooowww, however the day before (the 6th) was very good. The weather had just changed that fast and the bite stopped dead.  I believe it was a cold front stopping it all.  It was one of those times that ” you should’ve been here yesterday!”  Looking at the extended forecast this is likely the end now though as the river will ice over to stay by the end of the week.

Big walleye are often just one the edges of where the saugers hang out.
Big walleye are often just one the edges of where the saugers hang out. Released.

You can see from the pic above that the eyes are well feed this season.  It is normal to find regurgitated shad in your live well coming out of kept fish.  The enormous balls of shad that populated the river seemingly in infinite quantities are now hard to find.  Make no mistake the fish will find the remaining shad. So even in December – find the bait, find the fish.

Not sure why but this season was slow for smallies as a whole, 2017 was not the best bronze back year for me.  IN the last three weeks we have bumped into these fish though:

Wayne with a 19' smallmouth bass. many anglers consider the 'bronze back' the best fighter in freshwater. released.
Wayne with a 19" smallmouth bass. many anglers consider the “bronze back” the best fighter in freshwater. Released.

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- Smokey Hills Outdoor Store, Josh Severtson, www.smokeyhills.com
Park Rapids, Minnesota (218-237-5099)

11-22-The Park Rapids Ice Conditions vary from lake to lake. A Chisel or small auger is your most important tool this time of year due to very thin ice conditions. Checking the thickness of the ice constantly from shore to your destination is key in your safety! 

Walleye/Northern- Most deeper lakes that hold most of the walleye and northern don't have enough ice for fishing quite yet. There's a few places around town people have managed to fish out to 20' of water which have ended up getting walleyes between 12'-18' with a Northland "Buckshot Flutter Spoon" tipped with a minnow head. Or fished the dead stick method with a bobber, plain red hook and rainbow or shiner minnow!   

Crappie/Sunfish- A Lot of smaller sunfish and crappie lakes around Park Rapids have anywhere from 3-6" of ice which even then still needs constant checking for thickness to be safe. Fishing 8'-14' will be key looking for the standing weed beds which the sunfish and crappie will always be roaming around. Tie on a Smokey Hills tungsten jig paired with a wax worm or crappie minnow for best luck!  

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- Wheaton Service & Bait    www.wheatonservice.com
Neighbor Steve, 912 Broadway, Wheaton, MN (320-563-1400)

Lake Traverse, on the MN/SD border, is on fire! The walleye bite has been great, as well as the other species of fish we catch on our quest for walleye:) Water temps are relatively cool for this time of the year. Wheaton Service bait shop is relocating to Hwy 75 in Wheaton. Way better location, You will be able to drive right into our new lot pulling a boat, no hassles like our old location. Like always, Wheaton Service will have the "Best Bait in Town" and we always have up to date info on the bite that is going on on Lake Traverse. Our website will remain the same until our new shop is up and running. Wheaton Service will once again be building lite weight fish houses this fall. Our houses brand is Fishin' Hole Lodges. Lite weight skid houses, all aluminum, We use the same 3m tape that Yetti uses on their houses, less screws, makes for a great finished look! Available in most any color. The average 6x8 is $3,795.00 and weights about 360 lbs.Check us out at wheatonservice.com... 320 563-1400 Ask for Steve! Take a Kid Fishin!

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Mase's In Towne Marine - www.intownemarina.com
Cindy, corner of Lake and Elm (952-442-2096)

12-19-We were out to check ice thicknesses again today, 12/19/17. Because of the warmer weather, we lost most of the tacky snow that gave us some traction, so it’s a very good idea to wear ice cleats when walking out there. We haven’t gained much thickness since our last report, but the ice is still in good shape to walk out on, with lots of 6 to 7 inches in Wagener’s Bay, Pillsbury Reef and Waconia Bay.

However, we still have some areas to avoid. Previous goose hole locations like North Center reef and north of Center Reef are still thin or open. They are lightly marked with lath board and flagging tape. There is another area that an angler marked just north of West Center Reef (and east of Pillsbury) that is thinner as well. We also marked a long pressure ridge that extends south and west of Coney Island (see the pic below). That Ridge will be one to watch out for a while. We also marked 2 of the main springs (see pic of one of them below) that we annually keep an eye on and a thinner area well east of Cemetery Reef and west of Anderson’s Reef. They were not technically “open”, but dangerous nonetheless.

As for 4-wheeling, we don’t want to sound hypocritical, as we did today’s check with our ATV’s. However, we are CONSTANTLY paying attention for strange looking ice and drilling lots of holes along the way. We also avoid all of the bad areas with the wheeler and walk to mark them if possible. So, in summation, as always, ice is never safe. Because of the locations we mentioned above, we still think it’s generally a good idea to walk out to get to your fishing spot. If you decide to take an ATV, please check ahead of yourself, especially if going way out on the main lake. We CANNOT mark every area of bad ice on the lake, and we have not checked over ½ of the lake.

Hopefully the arctic blast coming later in the week into next week will help us get even more exciting news to discuss in the future as the ice thickens. We look forward to the ice conditions hopefully improving, but will likely not be doing another extensive report until after Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, our Bait Shop will be CLOSED on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve we will be open until at least 4pm, so stop in for that last minute fishing gift or gift certificate! Also, don’t forget we RENT FISH HOUSES! Our rental season hasn’t started yet, but will soon! Our Fish House Rentals are a popular Christmas gift for the fisherperson in your family that wants to get ice fishing in comfort without the hassle of finding the spot or drilling all the holes.

Good luck fishing and we’ll see you on the ice!



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- Walleye Visions - www.mnfishingconnections.com
Tom Neustrom, 21622 Airport Rd, Grand Rapids, tom@mnfishingconnections.com, (218-327-2312)

The transition from open water this season to ice couldn’t be easier. For the first time in several years we have early ice and some anglers are starting to show up in Third River and several other close to shore areas of Big Winnie. There seems to be 4-5 inches of ice in many places, but venturing out too far may have not quite enough ice just yet. Make sure when going out for the first time wear a life jacket and take a ice spud with you to check the ice where you are traveling. When you get to your spot you intend to fish make sure your return the same way back. It’s a good practice. Big and Little Cutfoot may be good early choices for early ice destinations for panfish. Again be careful where you walk and let someone know where you intend to fish. It’s a great start to the 2017 ice season on Big Winnie so get out and enjoy some early season ice fishing.

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