Minnesota Outdoor News Fishing Report — March 17, 2017

Great Eight

LAKE MILLE LACS        

With the exception of some panfish in the bays or perch close to shore on the main lake, fishing pressure has been very limited. With cracks and heaves limiting travel options on the main lake and the uncertainty of ice conditions the further out you go, there just hasn’t been a lot of people on the lake.

Johnson’s Portside (320) 676-3811

Terry’s Boat Harbor (320) 692-4430

LAKE OF THE WOODS

Ice conditions continue to be good with 24 to 34 inches in most areas. The bite varies from day to day with walleyes being found throughout the water column so electronics help. Key depths for walleyes and sauger have been 26 to 33 feet and northern pike have become active, staging near spawning areas. The Rainy River is open from Birchdale to the east with shore ice present and a few anglers have been pushing small boats over the ice. At the Northwest Angle, walleyes and perch are being caught in 20 to 30 feet on the Minnesota side. On the Ontario side, crappies continue to be caught in 25 feet or deeper.

Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau (800) 382-FISH

LAKE MINNETONKA AREA    

The lakes were all ice-free in this area, but with the cold weather, a skim of ice has again formed. It won’t take much warmth for this ice to melt, but it has delayed any thoughts of open water fishing for the moment.

Wayzata Bait (952) 473-2227

LAKE VERMILION

The ice is slippery so bring cleats, but ATVs and some trucks are being used. The walleye bite has been pretty good in 15 to 22 feet on Fish House Reef out from McKinley Park. The Raspberry Island area in Stuntz Bay also is producing walleyes in 20 to 25 feet, while crappie action has slowed.

Pike Bay Lodge (218) 753-2430

LAKE WINNIBIGOSHISH

Most resorts have closed their accesses to drive-in anglers in order to keep them intact for their customers, but some public accesses are being used. Trucks were an option early this week, but bring a wheeler this weekend in case some of those access points deteriorate – main lake ice is in fine shape. The perch bite has been good from Hunter’s Hump to River Bar on the west side in 15 to 18 feet. You’ll also find fish on the flats east of Sugar Lake in 17 to 20 feet, and there’s an early morning perch bite out from Raven’s Point in 15 to 20 feet.

Lake Winnie Resort Association

LEECH LAKE

Anglers willing to move and sort through fish are catching nice perch north of Goose Island in 8 to 15 feet. The tullibee bite also has picked up in the Trench area off Stoney Point over 30 to 35 feet. Anglers continue to catch plenty of eelpout on the sharp breaks off Templar Point. With the exception of some heaves that you need to go around, ice conditions remain favorable for truck use.

Reed’s Sporting Goods (218) 547-1505

Shriver’s Bait Company (218) 547-2250

RAINY LAKE     

Although ice conditions remain favorable for fishing, there hasn’t been a lot of people going. The few that are venturing out are finding some walleyes off Birch Point in Sand Bay over 22 to 30 feet. Most anglers continue to wait for open water on the Rainy River, which had started to open in spots, but hasn’t advanced much since last week with the return of cold weather.

International Falls CVB (800) 325-5766

RED LAKE

Not much has changed here, meaning ice conditions are still good, but there hasn’t been many people fishing. The cold weather seems to have limited lake traffic even more this past week, so crappie reports have been light.

Mort’s Dock (218) 647-8128

Twin Cities Metro

NORTHEAST METRO

The ice was pretty much gone, but some thin ice has again formed with the return of cold weather. You’ll still find plenty of open water, although there hasn’t been anyone fishing it.

Blue Ribbon Bait & Tackle (651) 777-2421

SOUTH METRO

Like most metro area waters, some skim ice has again formed on what had been mostly open water. This should be eliminated as soon as warm weather returns and anglers can start thinking about fishing open water.

Prior Lake Bait & Tackle (952) 447-6096

Statewide

ALEXANDRIA AREA

Many accesses are rough and heaved up, but if you can get on a given lake, main lake ice is in pretty good shape – ATVs and walking are the best travel options. Crappies and sunfish have moved shallower, 6 to 10 feet, on lakes such as Reno, Victoria, Rachel, Darling, Geneva, Miltona, and Christopherson’s Bay on Lake Ida.

Christopherson’s Bait and Tackle (320) 763-3255

BATTLE LAKE AREA

Look for suspended crappies in 15 to 18 feet at Rush Lake, West Battle Lake, Ellingson Lake, and Stalker Lake. Sunfish reports have been best from 10 to 15 feet on West Battle, Rush, Buchanan Lake, South Turtle Lake, and Star Lake. Tullibees are being found over 20 to 30 feet on Mollie Stark Lake, Lake Lida, Star, and Pickeral Lake. Main lake ice is in good shape, 15- to 18- inches, and many shorelines have improved so ATVs should remain an option through this weekend on most lakes.

Ben’s Bait Shop (218) 864-5596

BEMIDJI AREA

Perch continue to hit on Lake Bemidji  at a good pace, mainly on the mud, anywhere from 7 to 52 feet of water. Look to Lindgren Lake for crappies in 15 to 17 feet of water and bluegills are being caught by the narrows on Gull Lake in 12 to 28 feet of water. The Grassy Island area on Bemidji is producing numbers of eelpout as well. Ice conditions remained favorable for truck travel early this week.

Taber’s Bait (218) 751-5781

BLACKDUCK AREA

Ice conditions remain in good shape, still allowing for truck travel early this week. The bite has slowed a bit since the cold weather arrived, but look to Blackduck Lake and Round Lake for crappies over 20 to 30 feet. Perch have been sitting in a variety of depths, 6- to 20- foot mud areas, on Blackduck and Island Lake. Look to Pimushe Lake and Gull Lake for bluegills in 15 to 20 feet.

Timberline Sports and Tackle (218) 835-4636

BRAINERD/NISSWA AREA 

Sunfish reports have been best in 6 to 10 feet on North Long Lake, Cullen Lake, Nisswa Lake, and Roy Lake. Look for crappies on the same lakes in deeper water and the north end of Gull Lake continues to produce tullibees and eelpout in 30 feet or more. ATVs continue to be used throughout the area where good access points exist.

S & W Bait & Guide Service/Nisswa Guide League  (218) 829-7010

CASS LAKE AREA

Perch continue to hit on the east and west shorelines of Cass Lake along the 8- foot sand/grass areas. The east side of Pike Bay Lake also is producing perch in 8 to 12 feet. Look to Wolf Lake, Lake Andrusia, and Lower Sucker Lake for crappies over the 25- to 30- foot mud. Bluegills have been tough to find, but the 18- foot grass on Kitchi Lake is producing a few. There were no issues with accesses or main lake ice early this week.

Sunset Cove Resort (800) 279-4831

Frankie’s Bait (651) 257-6334

CROSBY AREA

The return of cold weather has helped lock up most shorelines so anglers are walking or using ATVs – it just depends on the lake. Crappies are being caught over 25 to 30 feet on Bay Lake and Mission Lake or 22 to 25 feet at Turner Lake and Milford Lake. Bluegill action has been somewhat slow, but look to Rogers Lake in 6 to 10 feet for some fish.

Oars ‘n Mine Bait and Tackle (218) 546-6912

DETROIT LAKES AREA

ATVs continue to be used without hesitation on lakes in this area and most shorelines remain intact. Crappies and sunfish are being caught in 10 to 15 feet at Height of Land Lake, Cotton Lake, and Little Detroit Lake. You’ll find tullibees suspended over deep water on Long Lake and Star Lake.

Quality Bait and Tackle (218) 844-2248

DULUTH AREA   

Main lake ice is solid and shorelines are intact so ATVs and snowmobiles are being used. Crappies are hitting in 10 to 12 feet on Whiteface Lake and Wolf Lake or 12 to 15 feet on Fish Lake. Rice Lake is a safe bet for keeper perch in less than 6 feet. The cold weather this week has limited shore fishing opportunities on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094

EMILY AREA 

Anglers continue to use ATVs throughout the area and even trucks on some lakes. The northwest end of Lake Esquagamah is producing crappies over 20 to 22 feet. Lawrence Lake is giving up sunfish in 16 to 18 feet.

Redding Sports and Spirits (218) 763-2191

FAIRMONT AREA

Although some skim ice has formed, most lakes continue to be wide open. There hasn’t been any panfish action to report and the few people that were fishing open water have pretty much stopped with the return of cold weather.

Sommer Outdoors (507) 235-5225

GRAND RAPIDS AREA 

Trucks continue to be used on area lakes as ice conditions remain favorable, even improved some with this week’s cold weather. Lakes such as Little Cutfoot, Big Cutfoot, Big Splithand, and Tioga Bay on Lake Pokegama continue to produce a mixed bag of panfish in 15 to 20 feet. Look for suspended crappies over 20 to 35 feet on Sand Lake, while Bowstring Lake is giving up perch and crappies in 20 to 25 feet. Jay Gould Lake is producing perch in 9 to 11 feet, and Bass Lake remains a safe bet for bluegills in 6 to 10 feet.

Ben’s Bait and Tackle (218) 326-8281

HACKENSACK AREA 

Crappies and bluegills continue to be found mixed together in 10 to 12 feet on Pleasant Lake, Birch Lake, Webb Lake, and Lindsey Lake. Any shorelines that were beat up have healed with the cooler weather so ATVs are a safe travel option in this area.

Swanson’s Bait and Tackle (218) 675-6176

LONGVILLE AREA

Ice conditions were good early this week and trucks were being used. That could change with the next stretch of warm days so ATVs might be the best way to travel this weekend. Crappies continue to be caught on Lake Wabedo over 35 to 40 feet, and you’ll find perch in 8 feet in Broadwater Bay on Woman Lake. Big Boy Lake is producing crappies, sunfish, and perch in 12 feet.

The One Stop (218) 363-2252

MORA AREA

ATVs were still an option early this week on most lakes, but the shorelines could go fast with the next stretch of warm weather. Fishing pressure has been extremely light this week – a few sunfish are being caught from time to time, but there’s been so few people fishing that there aren’t many reports.

Jerry’s Sport & Bait Shop (320) 679-2151

PARK RAPIDS AREA

The ice is in better shape than last week, but with the cold weather, there hasn’t been many people fishing. ATV use should remain an option through this weekend. A few crappies are coming off Big Mantrap Lake in 14 to 35 feet, while sunfish action remains slow.

Delaney’s (218) 732-4281

Smokey Hills Outdoors (218) 237-5099

PERHAM AREA

Look to Star Lake and Dead Lake for crappies and sunfish in 12 to 18 feet. A few tullibees are being found over deep water on Little Pine Lake and Loon Lake. Angling pressure has been light even though ATVs are a safe option throughout the area.

Gene’s Sport Shop (218) 346-3355

RED WING AREA

The cold weather has limited the number of anglers willing to fish on the Mississippi River. But the few people going out are catching walleyes and sauger along the current breaks with a jig and minnow. As the weather and water warms, look for plastics or hair jigs to start producing more fish.

Four Seasons Sports (651) 388-4334

SAUK CENTRE AREA

Fishing pressure has been extremely light with the deteriorated ice conditions. But earlier this week, anglers found shorelines that actually improved and were walking on lakes such as Smith, Osakis, Fairy, and Maple and finding some active panfish. The weather this week will determine if these lakes remain an option by this weekend.

Fletcher’s Bait Shop (320) 352-2155

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