Winter Fishing Reports
When fishing in the winter I see many anglers that let their fish freeze after they catch them. In my opinion this causes a few issues. The first nuisance is obviously you have to wait for the fish to thaw before you can clean them. The second issue is I’ve noticed that my fresh fillets will have a slight “fishy taste” and overall just test less fresh. The last issue is the one that bothers me the most. When fish are frozen and then thawed the fish will secrete a large amount of slime. This slime will coat the entire fish and cover your entire cleaning surface. If you simply place your fish in a pail of water after you catch them you can avoid all of the above issues.
February 26, 2016
We are fast approaching the end of the walleye ice fishing season, and the deadline to leave houses unattended overnight. Normally during this time of year the walleye bite is hit and miss at best, and most anglers usually move on to crappie or sunfish. This year, on the other hand, we have been experiencing a very strong bite to end the season. I have talked to a number of anglers on a few different lakes that are also noticing this.
I have had my best luck as usual in the low light time periods. For me, the midnight and midday bites have been nearly nonexistent. We have caught almost all of our fish in the prime hour at sunset and sunrise. Our best luck has come from 18-35 feet of water. Keep in mind that with the slow start to the ice fishing season, many of the traditional walleye “hot spots” have had very little pressure, so fishing those areas have been yielding some very good fish recently. Both 1/8” jigging spoons and set lines tipped with minnows have been producing fish. Most of the walleye have been eater size (15”-18”) but we have had a number of big picture fish as well.
The sunfish and crappie have also been cooperating, and by the sounds of it there has been some extremely good sized fish coming in. I’ve seen pictures of 13”-14” crappie and some sunfish pushing 10”. Those are great fish no matter where you live! Most of the panfish have been coming from weed flats in 10-20 feet of water on Euro larva or wax worms.
The ice is still in great condition around the Alexandria area. We have around 24 inches of ice with little to no snow. Last week we had a very warm Friday and Saturday that melted most of our snow, but then that water refroze on Sunday. It looks like we are going to have some very nice temps again this weekend, so get out and enjoy the lakes whether you’re after panfish or walleye!
Always use caution when going out on the lake. With the tempature changing make sure you are thinking safety first.
January 27, 2016
Current Ice and Travel Conditions:
With the cool temps we are making some good ice. Along with that we only have about 6”-8” of snow cover, so travel on the lakes has been quite easy.
SMALL LAKES AND BAYS: Have 18”-24” of ice.
MEDIUM LAKES: Have around 14”-16” of ice
LARGE LAKES: Have about 10-12” everywhere I have checked.
The best bite around the area has been the consistent crappie action. Anglers have been catching large numbers of crappie suspended over deep water. Look to the edge of these deep holes. The schools of crappie seem to follows these breaks like highways, making them much easier to locate than most people think. The crappie have been feeding heavily right at dusk and dawn on small jigs (size #10-#12 jigs) and crappie minnows. During the day these same fish can be caught but instead of a minnow use a small plastic tail, wax worm or Euro larva.
The walleye action has also been good for some but very slow for others. For this time of year that is quite typical. One night will be great and the next nothing. The anglers that are putting in their time have iced some nice sized walleye though. Plenty of eater sized walleye 15”-18”, as well as numerous trophy fish 28”-32”. Concentrate on 15’-25’ of water with jigs and minnows.
Line thickness is a very important part of catching fish, especially during the day. You always want to pick the lightest line possible for the species you are targeting. For sunfish and crappie I’d recommend 2-3 pound test monofilament line and for walleye I’d recommend 6-8 pound test monofilament. Note: You may lose a fish here or there by downsizing your line but the increase in action will be so great you’ll never go back to your heavy line.
January 8, 2016
New Year’s Ice Update and Fishing Report as of 1/8/16Here are the current ice conditions for the Alexandria area. I’ll break this ice report into three categories… small, medium and large lakes.
SMALL LAKES AND BAYS
Many of the small lakes around the area have 10”-12”+ of ice. There are plenty of permanent houses on these lakes and we are starting to see some small trucks and cars venture out onto the ice as well.
I’ve found the medium sized lakes to have around 8”-10” of ice on them. There are fewer permanent shacks on these lakes but more are showing up every day. Snowmobiles and ATV’s are still the preferred choice of transportation.
When I say large lakes I also mean deep. These lakes for the most part have safe walkable ice and even safe ATV ice (5-6”). But, keep in mind that the ice over the deeper water in these lakes is still quite thin, possibly 2-4”. Even though there is safe ice on these lakes, be cautious of venturing out across these deep areas even on foot.
As for the fishing the results are pretty typical for this time of year. The sunfish and crappie are biting very well in 10-20 feet of water all day long. My preferred jig is a size 12 Lindy Toad and plastic tail or wax worm. The walleye on the other hand have been hit and miss. Some anglers are reporting great numbers and size, while others are only getting a couple fish an outing. Fishing during the low light time periods has been producing most of the walleye. Concentrate on areas that have a steep drop off or standing weeds in 10-20 feet of water.
December 22, 2015
We have ice again! After the mild temps last week we are back to winter. This past weekend with lows in the single digits most of the medium to large lakes froze over. There’s only a couple inches of ice on those lakes but many shallow lakes and bays have 4-6” on them.Anglers that have been getting out on the ice are reporting a decent bite for sunfish, crappie and walleye. I’ve been making good use of the boat until this past weekend, but with most lakes frozen over I’ve officially put the boat away. This was definitely the latest I have ever fished a lake in MN out of a boat.
As I said earlier the ice is quite good on the shallow lakes and bays, so I hit the ice for the first time this past weekend. I checked the ice on a few lakes and some were good and others needed more cold weather before I’d fish them. For me I like to have a consistent 4” of ice or more to feel comfortable. Once I have checked a lake and I know the ice conditions, only then will I take my family or clients out on the ice to fish.
My son is only two years old, but he was very excited to finally get out ice fishing. He was able to land his first walleye of the ice season as well as some nice crappie. His smiles are priceless! I’m pretty sure if you asked him he thinks he can out fish Dad already. Most of the fish that we caught were quite aggressive; in fact we used mostly plastics. For the walleye we used an 1/8oz Frostee jigging spoon tipped with a fathead and for the crappie we used a small #12 Lindy toad tipped with a plastic tail. This fast action was a perfect way to start off the ice fishing season.
If you decide to go ice fishing over the holidays, make sure you target the lakes that are 15’ or less. These shallower lakes froze earlier than the deeper ones and they have the best ice on them. Merry Christmas, stay safe and good luck fishing!
December 4, 2015
Well I wish I had a report of fish-able ice for you, but Mother Nature just won’t make up her mind. Our small to mid-sized lakes have frozen over and blown open a couple times now. The smaller bodies of water that have kept their ice received around 4” of wet snow this week, so that ice is now in very poor condition as well.
The past couple days have had very cool low temps, so we’ve been seeing many of the lakes freezing over again. With the good news also comes the bad, we are supposed to see high winds and temps in the coming days, so the ice we’ve made may get busted up once again.
Despite the delay in our ice fishing season, there are still opportunities to wet a line in the Alexandria area. Most of the larger lakes are still accessible by boat and the reports are pretty decent for crappie, walleye and muskie. So, if you have the desire the fish have been willing and ready.
The other option is to use extreme caution and find some of the smaller lakes that stayed frozen through this up and down weather pattern. I’ve heard reports of 3-4”of ice in areas with an inch or two of slush on top. The people that have been venturing out are reporting some very good catches of both walleye and crappie.
Hopefully winter sets in for good soon so we can get on with our ice fishing season. As for now, let’s just enjoy the nice weather and spend some time outdoors. I know personally I can’t wait to get out in the boat a couple more times. Remember to check back for ice updates. I’ll post again soon as we work our way slowly into the ice fishing season. Stay safe and good luck fishing!