Zebra mussels confirmed in Hand Lake in Cass County; Upper Cormorant Lake in Becker County

Credit to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the source: http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2019/07/11/zebra-mussels-confirmed-in-hand-lake-in-cass-county-upper-cormorant-lake-in-becker-county/

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed reports of zebra mussels in Hand Lake in Cass County and Upper Cormorant Lake in Becker County. Two smaller lakes and an unnamed wetland connected to Upper Cormorant Lake will also be listed for zebra mussels.b

A Cass County watercraft inspector found a plant with attached zebra mussels on a boat coming from Hand Lake. Divers then found a 1-inch, adult zebra mussel in Hand Lake. The DNR is conducting further analyses to better determine the distribution of zebra mussels in the lake.

DNR divers conducted a search of Upper Cormorant Lake and found seven adult zebra mussels in four locations. Nelson Lake, Middle Cormorant Lake and an unnamed wetland connected to and downstream of Upper Cormorant Lake will also be listed for zebra mussels. The wetland flows into Big Cormorant Lake, where zebra mussels were confirmed in July of 2015.

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:
  • Clean watercraft and trailers of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the water access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody:
  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species that has not already been confirmed in a lake.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas Program Biodiversity

Credit to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for their report: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snap/biodiversity.html

Prairie wildflowers at Mound Prairie SNA with wooded bluffland landscape in the background

Determining the best candidates for Natural Area protection is a complex process. Natural area conservation planning focuses on areas of high biodiversity. We use the following tools, concepts and resources to evaluate and manage sites.

The value of biodiversity (the variety of life and its processes)

Minnesota’s biodiversity has evolved over millennia into complex ecosystems. A myriad of species interact with each other and environmental factors such as soils, topography, hydrology and climate within these ecosystems.

Preserving biodiversity has benefits (ecosystem services) such as:

  • Maintaining healthy, stable plant and animal populations
  • Protecting genetic diversity
  • Protecting water and soil resources
  • Filtering pollution and nutrient recycling
  • Contributing to climate stability and carbon storage
  • Recovering from catastrophic events
  • Providing sources for food, medicine and other products
  • Research, education and monitoring
  • Recreation, tourism and inspiration

In areas where biodiversity is threatened, losing species can affect the ecosystem’s ability to function properly and provide these services. Maintaining biodiversity reduces voids and the entire ecosystem maintains a higher degree of resilience.

Conservation planning for natural areas focuses on areas of high biodiversity as well as habitats for rare species.

Resilience as a strategy

Resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to cope with disturbance. Resilience is critical to reducing climate change and fragmentation from land development. As climate change affects ecosystems they will face increasing vulnerability. An effective strategy at easing these negative impacts is to build resilience into native communities by:

  • Creating large protected areas and corridors to provide pathways for species to migrate to more suitable habitats
  • Preserving a greater variety of habitats for desirable species

The SNA program is using both strategies for resilience to maintain Minnesota’s biodiversity.

Biodiversity significance rankings

Biodiversity significance is a ranking based on the size and condition of native plant communities and how they fit in an ecological landscape. It also includes the presence or absence of rare species populations. The rankings are ‘outstanding’, ‘high’, ‘moderate’ and ‘below’. Ecologists with the Minnesota Biological Survey determine this status. This ranking is used to help prioritize Natural Area protection efforts.

Minnesota’s Ecological Classification System (ECS)

Ecological landscape classifications are used to identify, describe, and map progressively smaller areas of land with increasingly uniform ecological features. Minnesota’s Ecological Classification System (ECS) uses biotic and environmental factors, including climate, geology, topography, soils, hydrology and vegetation.

The largest units of the ECS are provinces and are defined primarily by climate. Minnesota has four provinces. Provinces are divided into 10 sections based on glacial deposits, topography and plant distributions. The 26 subsections of the ECS are further refined by local vegetation, especially trees, among other factors. Individual Scientific and Natural Areas note the subsection in which they are located. Native plant communities are a finer grading of the classification system.

Minnesota’s Native Plant Communities

Local groupings of trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs that interact with each other and their environment are called native plant communities and are characterized by the kinds and quantities of species they contain. They form recognizable units, such as oak savannas, pine forests, cattail marshes and other communities that tend to repeat over space and time.

Plant communities are subject to change. They form in response to climate and nutrients, as well as catastrophic flooding and fires. In the absence of change, they can be fairly stable over time. However they can also develop into something complete new. For example, a beaver dam can cause significant flooding and as a result, over a period of time, a new community will form in the flooded area. Places where native species have been largely replaced are no longer considered native plant communities.

Native plant communities serve as the basis for evaluating Scientific and Natural Area priorities. The Minnesota Biological Survey has identified, surveyed, and prioritized communities and rare species for research and conservation. Minnesota’s Native Plant Community Classification serves as a standard for ecologists to identify and assess communities. Some individual Scientific and Natural Areas have detail maps showing their native plant communities

Minnesota’s Rare Species

Rare species, are defined under Minnesota law as endangered, threatened, or of special concern. The DNR identifies which species are at greatest risk of disappearance. The law restricts harming those species that are designated as endangered or threatened. Natural Areas protect critical habitat for these rare species.

Five Ways to Enjoy Minnesota’s 10,000 Lakes

Credit to Explore Minnesota: https://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/five-ways-to-enjoy-minnesotas-10000-lakes/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

When you visit a place that’s nicknamed “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (make that 11,842, to be precise), it’s pretty much required that you explore one or two of them while you’re here. In fact, many would argue you haven’t had the full Minnesota experience until you’ve gone to the lake. After all, they’re not hard to find!

As you plan your Minnesota getaway, be sure to carve out some time at a lake—whether it’s a side trip for an afternoon or the focus of your whole vacation. Here are five great ways to do so.

1. PLAY AT THE BEACH

waconia7808-Lake-Waconia-beach-scenes-600x400.jpg

Sunbathing on Lake Waconia

It’s the classic way to spend a summer day. Spread out a towel, pull out a good book, make a sandcastle with the kids, and cool off with a dip in the lake. It’s easy to include a beach day (or several!) on a Minnesota getaway. Many cities have great beaches right in town, including Big Lake, Detroit LakesFairmontSpicer and Waconia. For a refreshing dip in our biggest lake, Superior, head to Park Point Beach in Duluth. You can even beach it at lakes Maka Ska and Harriet right in the heart of Minneapolis, and several other Twin Cities-area lakes.

Numerous state parks have terrific sand beaches, including Father Hennepin on Mille Lacs Lake, Zippel Bay on Lake of the Woods, McCarthy BeachLake BemidjiMaplewood and Lake Shetek. Most of Minnesota’s resorts and campgrounds are located along lakeshores, so look for one with a swimming beach.

2. PADDLE AWAY

A woman canoeing in the Boundary Waters

Kayaking in the Boundary Waters / Jillian DeChaine

Canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding are all great ways to explore our lakes. Many state and local parks offer canoe and kayak rentals for easy lake paddling. In Minneapolis, you can rent a canoe at Bde Maka Ska and paddle through a chain of lakes via connecting canals. For more experienced paddlers, the ultimate adventure is a camping trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness; several outfitters provide equipment, provisions and tips.

Paddleboards are the newest wave of fun on the lake. Stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) are available for rent at several state parks, Minneapolis city lakes and at Bryant Lake, Fish Lake and Baker regional parks in the Minneapolis area. In the Brainerd Lakes area, MN Surf Company offers rentals and lessons.

3. GO FISH

A favorite Minnesota pastime, fishing is favored by some simply as an excuse to get out on a lake and relax. If you don’t have your own boat, many resorts offer rentals. And even better, they can hook you up with a fishing guide who can show you the ins and outs of area lakes. Fishing charters can take you out on the big waters of Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods, and fishing launches go out on larger lakes like Mille Lacs. What’s out there? Minnesota lakes serve up a variety of species: walleye, northerns, bass, muskie, various panfish and more.

4. TAKE A CRUISE

Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tour

Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tour on the St. Croix River / Lucy Hawthorne Photography

An easy and fun way to get out on a lake is to climb aboard a tour boat. In the north woods, a narrated boat trip in Itasca State Park explores the lake where the Mississippi River begins as a small stream, and tour boats explore the wilderness lakes of Voyageurs National Park. Elsewhere in the state, Gull Lake Cruises offers cruises with meals on the popular Gull Lake near Brainerd. Vista Fleet tours feature views of Duluth from the city’s harbor and Lake Superior.

Lake Minnetonka, a vast, meandering lake to the west of Minneapolis, has several tour boats: Lady of the Lakepaddlewheeler, Queen of Excelsior, and even the restored 1906 Steamboat Minnehaha. In southeast Minnesota, the Pelican Breeze plies the waters of Albert Lea Lake, and Pearl of the Lake heads onto Lake Pepin, a widening of the Mississippi River in a scenic valley of wooded bluffs.

5. SPEND THE NIGHT

Family on dock at resort in Grand Rapids

Resort stays make lake life a breeze

It can be hard to tear yourself away from the lake at the end of the day … so don’t! Find your own place at the lake for a few days, or even weeks. Reserve your stay at a lakeside resort, lodge or campground to really experience lakeside living. Watch the sun set amid vivid pinks and purples. Listen for the distinctive call of loons across the water.

After nightfall, roast marshmallows at a campfire, be amazed by zillions of stars twinkling above, see the moon rise above the lake and, if you’re lucky, catch the northern lightsdancing in the sky. It’s the perfect end to a relaxing day at the lake, with the promise of another to come.

Lots of Great Fishing Opportunity in Minnesota

Here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, there’s tons of places to fish at, including Blackduck Lake!

whitebirchresort.net Call 218-835-4552 for the best deals!

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Explore Minnesota Weekly Fishing Update – June 6, 2019
Connor Schmidt’s 36-inch muskie / Dan Schmidt
 

June 7-9 is Take a Kid Fishing Weekend when Minnesota residents can fish without licenses if they take children 15 or younger fishing!

The bite is heating up as water temperatures rise. Walleye are moving deeper. Anglers are taking good numbers on jigs and rigs with minnows or leeches. Northern pike have become aggressive and are eager to bite!

Minnesota fishing opener dates for the 2019/2020 fishing season for most inland waters are as follows: walleye, sauger, northern pike, bass (catch-and-release) and lake trout, May 11; muskie, June 1. The fishing season for crappies, sunnies, perch and catfish is continuous. For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR’s Fish Minnesota web page

 

[Northeast] [Northwest] [Central] [Minneapolis-St. Paul Area] [Southern]

Northeast Minnesota

International Falls – Rainy Lake

Rainy Lake water temperatures have been in the high 40sto mid-50s so walleye remain slightly behind in their traditional movements. Walleye are currently coming from the bays where water temperatures are slightly above that of the main lake, and the windblown shorelines and points have been the most productive. The best presentation has been a 1/16 to 1/8 ounce jig tipped with a minnow or plastic. A slow delivery is very helpful. Some anglers report that spinner rigs are starting to turn fish. With warmer temperatures, fishing is expected to continually improve.

Smallmouth bass have yet to begin nesting due to the cold water temperatures. Most fish are being caught near their traditional spawning areas where they can be found staging at the windy points, large boulders and other significant structure. The best approach is to suspending a twitch bait, along with a long pause. As always, plastics and hair jigs are great go-to options.

Crappies are in the shallows, hitting minnows under a slip bobber in depths of 3 to 5 feet. The turns and points in the bull rushes, as well as on and around the sunken rocks have been great locations.

Northern pike have completed their spawn but remain near their shallow spawning areas. The bays that are  protected from larger bodies of water are a good place to start since the water is warmer. Spinner baits, spoons, and most significantly, suspended twitch baits have been the most productive. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org

Kabetogama

Area guides report another great week on Lake Kabetogama! Walleye are being taken during the day on 3/8 ounce jigs tipped with a minnow worked in 30 to 36 foot depths.  Most have been “keeper” size, but many nice catch-and-release fish have also been reported.  During low light hours, walleye are being pulled from depths of 6 to 12 feet on 1/8 ounce jigs tipped with a minnow. The best technique is to either slowly troll or fan-cast from the boat. Water temperature range from 58 degrees (main lake) to 64 degrees in some bays. Crank baits worked along the shorelines are turning lots of bass. Northern pike seem to be active throughout the lake. The bugs are hatching and the water is warming, so the fish are becoming more active. 800-524-9085; www.kabetogama.com

Ely Area Lakes and Rivers

Walleye fishing continues to be best for anglers fishing near shore or just off their docks or campsites. Areas around the creek mouths are no longer as productive now that the minnow spawn has ended, but walleye continue to be found in the shallows. The large shallow flats near shore have been the best area to fish.  Gold, blue and silver tinsel jigs tipped with minnow have been best. Anglers fishing from their docks or campsite are catching walleye on slip bobbers and leeches during evening hours and into the night. In fact, some real trophy-sized fish were caught this week by anglers using slip bobbers.

Crappies have started to spawn not that waters are consistently warmer. Anglers have been catching stingers full of crappies near the cattails and pencil reeds. Small slip bobbers and plain plastic tubes in pink, white, blue and chartreuse have been the top producers. Crappie minnows fished under a bobber are also turning crappies.

Lake trout fishing has been good for many anglers, but it has been challenging since some trout are coming from less than 10 feet of water on slip bobber rigs, yet others are coming from depths of more than 70 feet by anglers that are trolling. The most successful anglers are using deep-diving white crank baits over deep water. As water temperatures continue to rise, the lakers will move into deep waters and become easier for anglers to locate.

Stream trout fishing has been excellent for many anglers this last week. Rainbows are still being caught in the first 10 feet of the water column. Anglers are having success using cowbells, slip bobbers with baby crawlers, jigs with twisters, small streamers, and trolling small spoons or crank baits.

Smallmouth bass are still spawning so anglers have found them easy to locate, and some huge crappies have been taken. The most successful anglers are using pink, orange, chartreuse and white rigs and jigs. Wacky rigging has been the best way to trigger these fish to bite. Anglers have also been productive using suspended crank baits, and topwater baits such as poppers or flies.

Northern pike fishing is starting to slow as water temperatures rise and the big pike start moving deep. Still, anglers fishing early in the morning or on the edge of shallow bays near deep water are reporting lots of action. Large, heavy suckers and dead smelt fished under a bobber continue to turn the majority of large pike. 800-777-7281; www.ely.org

Grand Rapids Area Lakes

The walleye bite has heated up with the warmer temperatures. Some of the lakes giving up lots of walleye include Winnibigoshish, Moose, Bowstring and Trout lakes. A moon-eye jig and shiner is working well, but rig and leech are also consistently turning fish. Anglers that prefer to troll are doing well with shad raps on Pokegama and Sugar lakes during evening hours. During the day, look for walleye off shore, especially at the near-shore sunken islands.

Crappie fishing has been very good in the shallows now that they are moving into their spawning grounds. Anglers are taking fish on slip bobbers and minnows fished in just 2 to 5 feet of water. Bass fishing has also improved dramatically over the last week. Smallmouth bass are starting to move into and occupy spawning areas. Bluegills are on their beds on several area lakes. Please remember to release the larger fish. 800-355-9740; www.visitgrandrapids.com

Northwest Minnesota

Baudette – Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River

Walleye fishing has been on fire on Lake of the Woods Fish are sliding a bit deeper, holding in 15 to 30 foot depths with the most activity in 25 to 26 feet of water. Anglers that are anchored and jigging minnows or frozen shiners are taking the most fish. Gold combined with other colors have been the most productive. Nice reports are coming in all along the south shore and around Knight and Bridges islands. Water temperatures are in the mid- to upper 50s.

On the Rainy River, walleye and sauger are being pulled from the holes, current breaks and sand riffs. Smallmouth bass and northern pike anglers are finding lots of nice-sized fish, but most anglers remain focused on the walleye. Some anglers are taking a mixed bag of fish when casting at the river mouths, bays and rocky areas. The sturgeon season opens July 1.

Up at the Northwest Angle, large walleye are being taken by anglers trolling crank baits in less than 15 feet of water — some have been more than 28 inches long! Most of the keeper-size walleye are coming from 18 to 22 foot depths on orange and parakeet-colored jigs tipped with a minnow. Sauger, northern pike, perch and bass are also being reported by walleye anglers. The smallmouth bass remain deep but should slide up into the bays very soon. Water temperatures range from 55 to 59 degrees in the shallower areas. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com

Bena – Lake Winnibigoshish

The water continues to warm on Lake Winnibigoshish so walleye action is also heating up. Anglers are now taking greater numbers of walleye, especially from the main lake bars and flats in 16 to 18 feet of water. During lowlight hours and on days with windy conditions, fish are being taken from the points and shoreline breaks. A jig tipped with a minnow or leech is working extremely well. Northern pike activity has also picked up at the emerging weed beds in 9 to 12 foot depths.  It’s time to fish Big Winnie! www.lakewinnie.net

Park Rapids Area Lakes

The crappie are on fire on lakes throughout the Park Rapids area. Crappies up to 16 inches in length have been caught this week. Anglers having the most success are using 1/16 ounce jigs tipped with a small white twister tail or a crappie minnow. The key has been to make a long cast and slowly swim the jig back to the boat in depths of 2 to 4 feet of water. Walleye action has also picked up nicely. Anglers trolling crank baits over the shallow sand weed flats in depths of 6 to 10 feet are doing well with the walleye. Shiner or perch patterns have been working best. The bass are spawning so they will hit almost anything thrown their way, but a senko worm rig has been extremely effective. Please remember to release the bass while they are spawning. 800-247-0054; www.parkrapids.com

Detroit Lakes Area Lakes

Water temperatures for Detroit Lakes area lakes are in the low to mid 60s and climbing. Some crappies are still on their shallow beds, and others have started to move to the weed flats and emerging bull rushes in depths of 7 to 9 feet of water. Trappers can no longer find shiners, but the shiner bite continues for walleye. Most walleye are coming from the emerging weedlines and shoreline breaks on Sallie, Melissa, Pelican and Big Detroit lakes. Anglers are having the most success in 12 to 17 feet of water when using jigs and minnows, but live bait rigs and leeches are also turning fish.

Northern pike have been very aggressive at the outside edge of the submerged weedlines. Bass are hitting small crank baits, spinner baits and jigs with plastics at the docks and shallow cover. Sunfish are in the shallow weeds, responding to small leeches, pieces of crawlers and waxworms on small jigs or hooks under bobbers. 800-542-3992; www.visitdetroitlakes.com

Central Region

Brainerd Area Lakes

The water temperatures are finally in the 60s, and the fish are loving it. Walleye are active at the thick cabbage beds throughout Gull Lake. Jigs with shiners and slip bobbers with leeches have produced the most fish recently. Anglers continue to enjoy a great night bite. For the most action, cast jigging raps and suspending jerk baits. North Long Lake is also kicking out some nice walleye for anglers using leeches in 14 to 24 foot depths. The walleye bite on the smaller are lakes has improved dramatically with the stable weather.  Bass are very active in the shallows. The bluegills are staging for their spawn. 800-450-7247; www.visitbrainerd.com

Isle/Onamia – Lake Mille Lacs

Anglers are having a blast on Lake Mille Lacs, with lots of walleye, smallmouth bass and large muskie being reported. The water temperature in the bays is 66 to 69 degrees, and the main lake is running 62 to 64 degrees depending on what side of the lake you are on. Most bass are on their beds all over the lake. The walleye bite is strong, with fish coming from the mud flats, sand and rock areas. Over the week, more walleye seem to be moving out to the mud flats and the deeper gravel/rocks in 24 to 30 feet of water. This time of year, jigs, rigs and jigging raps are best. Check out the Lake Mille Lacs webcams for great views of the lake. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com

Willmar Area Lakes

Fish are biting throughout the Willmar Lakes Area. Anglers are taking lots of nice walleye when trolling with bottom bouncers and leeches on Long Lake. Panfish are still active under the bridge and in the bays of Nest Lake. The Green Lake weeds are giving up crappies in roughly 25 feet of water. Diamond Lake is producing walleye, crappies and northern pike. For those that like to shore fish, look for active crappies and walleye on Foot, Ringo and Florida lakes. 800-845-8747; www.willmarlakesarea.com

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Stillwater – St. Croix River

St. Croix River walleye are transitioning to their summer haunts. Walleye anglers are having lots of success with both eating-size walleye, as well as large walleye.

Anglers are also having fun with the amazing freshwater drum, a.k.a. sheephead, action.  The only problem is that when the drum are this aggressive, the other fish usually can’t get to the bait.

Smallmouth have been especially fun to catch right now since they are very willing to bite. Live bait has worked extremely well in depths of 11 to 14 feet, and in 22 foot depths in areas with a good flow. Pool 3 is giving up lots of fish at the current seams. 651/351-1717; www.discoverstillwater.com

Southern Minnesota

Lanesboro – Southeast Bluff Country Rivers and Streams

As of Thursday, May 30, Lanesboro Fisheries Staff reported that 2.5 to 4 inches of rain had fallen last weekend, but stream conditions were improving rapidly and were expected to continually improve. Check out the DNR’s Stream Flow Report for the most current conditions. Before you go, check out the “Area Highlights” section of the Lanesboro Area Fisheries web page for stream maps. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com

 

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Minnesota fishing report

Minnesota fishing updates provided by White Birch Resort on Blackduck Lake.

www.whitebirchresort.net

 

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Explore Minnesota Weekly Fishing Update – May 3, 2019
Maddie discovers that even a little perch can be exciting! Photo courtesy of Wildwood Resort
 

Excitement fills the air as the 2019 Minnesota Fishing Opener approaches! Nearly all lakes in Minnesota will be free of ice by the May 11 fishing opener. DNR Fisheries Staff expect most walleye to have completed their spawn and be eager to bite.

Anglers continue to take nice panfish from the warm, shallow bays. Large sturgeon and northern pike are still being pulled from northern border waters with open seasons.

Main lake water temperatures remain extremely cold so anglers need to use caution and wear a life jacket. Please review Cold Water Kills before heading out.

Minnesota fishing opener dates for the 2019/2020 fishing season for most inland waters are as follows: walleye, sauger, northern pike, bass and lake trout, May 11; muskie, June 1. The fishing season for crappies, sunnies, perch and catfish is continuous. For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR’s Fish Minnesota web page.

 

[Northeast] [Northwest] [Central] [Minneapolis-St. Paul Area] [Southern]

Northeast Minnesota

International Falls – Rainy Lake & the Rainy River

The Rainy River tag season for sturgeon starts April 24 and runs through May 7 when anglers are allowed to keep one sturgeon with a previously purchased sturgeon tag. To keep a sturgeon, it must be 45 to 50 inches in length or over 75 inches. All Rainy River accesses are open, and the Ron Hall access in International Falls, located just a mile or so downstream from the dam, is always a good choice. The swifter waters in this area are usually hold an abundance of sturgeon. If you catch a sturgeon, but cannot tag it, please handle it carefully and release it quickly. Sturgeon should always be held in a horizontal orientation, holding them vertically can damage internal organs. The Rainy River is a success story in the efforts to restore sturgeon fisheries in North America. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org

Kabetogama

Lake Kabetogama and Crane Lake are on track for an ice-free fishing opener. The ice that once was locked tight on the north shore of Kabetogama and towards the east has now melted. Even though it has been cool, the wind combined with poor ice has done its work and we are ice free all the way to Namakan and beyond Ash River. The entire lake chain should be ice-free for opening weekend anglers.

Anglers have been out fishing for crappies but no reports are available. Once the sun shines, this bite should heat up nicely. Loons and pelicans made their first appearance the last week of April, and locally nesting waterfowl have arrived. Water levels are about 18 to 20 inches higher than this time last year. 800-524-9085; www.kabetogama.com

Duluth – Lake Superior, St. Louis River and inland waters

Lake Superior has been busy this week as smelt start to show up in the North Shore streams and rivers. According to the DNR, popular smelting waters include Lester, Knife, Stewart, Gooseberry, Split Rock, Beaver, Baptism, Cross, Temperance, Poplar and Cascade. Learn more at Smelt on the North Shore.

Anglers are taking lots of salmon when trolling the North Shore shoreline. The best tactic has been to troll stick baits in a variety of colors to learn which colors are most productive.

Stream anglers continue to report success with steelhead trout, a few salmon and an occasional brown trout. Some are taking a few suckers as well. The most successful technique is to drift spawn under float indicators. Patience is key. Anglers need to remember that these are migratory fish and eventually one will swim by.

Docks are going in on the St. Louis River. Expect to see anglers testing their boats and trying their luck with panfish prior to the May 11 opener. The MN DNR recently surveyed the spawning walleye up river and the results were very positive.

The inland lakes are giving up lots of panfish in the shallows where the water is warming rapidly. In fact, water temperatures as high as 52 degrees have been recorded. The shallow bays with decaying plants, bug larvae and/or new vegetation are generally the best fishing sites. For the most fish, use a 32-ounce jig tipped with a wax worm or soft plastic under a bobber. A few crappies are also being caught in the shallows by anglers using crappie minnows.

Please remember, that populations of fish can be very vulnerable this time of year. Please release the larger fish and harvest the more plentiful smaller fish. By doing so, we all win! 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com

Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids area offers many early season panfish opportunities once lakes are free of ice. Most anglers target crappies, but there are also great opportunities for bluegill and perch. As the shallows warm and forage increases, look for panfish in water as shallow as 2 to 3 feet. You will need to quietly sneak up on the fish since they are so shallow. A small slip bobber with a jig in soft bottom areas with old stands of pencil reeds are great spots for early season crappies. Instead of anchoring, try a trolling motor to move freely with a bit of control. Four pound test line is ideal and very manageable, even for the largest crappies and bluegills. www.visitgrandrapids.com

Northwest Minnesota

Baudette – Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River

Northern pike and sturgeon reports have been excellent on the south shore of Lake of the Woods.  The bays on the lake and the river are open and full of pike. Large dead baits, as well as slowly rolling a spinnerbait, spoon or crankbait are the best methods. Numerous trophy-class northern pike are being caught. Please remember that all pike 30 to 40 inches in length must be returned to the water. There is a 3 fish limit with one over 40 inches allowed.

The annual Zippel Bay Resort Ice Out Pike Tournament will be held May 4-5, a bit later than usual due to later ice-out predictions. Pike anglers are already pulling nice northern pike from various bays on Lake of the Woods and Zippel Bay is usually a hot spot. Part of the appeal of Zippel Bay is that it’s more secluded, easier to hide from cold winds, and anglers will not require the larger boats like on the main lake.

On the Rainy River, sturgeon fishing has been excellent. The ideal presentation a 3 to 6 ounce no-roll sinker, a sturgeon rig and a few nightcrawlers or combination of crawlers and frozen emerald shiners. The keep season for sturgeon continues through May 7. If you intend to keep a sturgeon, you must purchase a sturgeon tag ahead of time.

Up at the Northwest Angle, open water areas are increasing rapidly. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com

Bena – Lake Winnibigoshish

As of May 2, nearly all of the ice had melted on Lake Winnibigoshish. Time to prepare for the fishing opener May 11!  Learn about recommended fishing techniques for Lake Winnibigoshish during the Minnesota Fishing Opener.   www.lakewinnie.net

Hackensack Area Lakes

The majority of lakes in the area are wide open, however, as of April 29, Ten Mile still had some ice on the main lake, as did Leech and Woman lakes. All should be free of ice shortly. 800-279-6932; www.hackensackchamber.com  

Central Region

Glenwood Area Lakes

The Starbuck Marina on Lake Minnewaska has been the giving up lots of sunfish and crappies. For the most action, use a small jig tipped with a waxworm or minnow. Other good locations have been Fish Hatchery Bay, and Pocket, Reno, Rachael and Mary lakes. www.glenwoodlakesarea.org

Brainerd Area Lakes

North Long, Hubert and all of the smaller lakes within the Gull Lake Chain are producing good numbers of panfish. The best depths and techniques depend on the day.  On sunny days, crappies are preferring minnows in depths of 2 to 5 feet. On cloudy days, bright-colored plastics have been best in depths of 6 to 10 feet. The larger bluegills are schooling at the new weed growth, with plastics and live bait both working well. 800-450-7247; www.visitbrainerd.com

Isle/Onamia – Lake Mille Lacs

The walleye are hungry on Lake Mille Lacs, with accidental walleye coming in on small plastic crappie baits. Ice out on Lake Mille Lacs was declared April 29, and many docks are already in for the season! Check out the Lake Mille Lacs webcams to view the progress.

Mille Lacs is known to be an excellent fishery for walleye, as well as bass. Consider attending the Bronzeback Blowout at Izatys Resort on May 4. This event helps to maintain Mille Lacs’ world-class trophy smallmouth bass fishery status. Free beer and wine will be offered during Happy Hour, followed by a wonderful buffet meal by the chefs at Izatys. Evening fun includes a silent auction, live auction, raffles and door prizes galore. Special industry guests will also attend. Last year’s event sold out get your tickets soon.

Anglers fishing Mille Lacs may keep one walleye from May 11 through May 31, but the walleye must measure between 21 and 23 inches, or be more than 28 inches long. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Consider participating in the Family Fishing on the Opener on May 11 at Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park. Learn about different types of fish, preparing equipment, baiting a hook and handling fish once they are caught — make memories on the lake with your family! Pre-registration is required.

Stillwater Area Lakes and Rivers

Opening day for walleye and sauger on the St. Croix River is May 4. According to Turk Gierke, fishing should be very good for opening weekend despite high water levels. Live bait and crankbaits should both be effective. 651/351-1717; www.discoverstillwater.com

Southern Minnesota

Lanesboro – Southeast Bluff Country trout streams

As of May 2, most southeastern streams and rivers were clear with normal to slightly high water flow. Dark Hendricksons were being observed. Several species of caddis were hatching intermittently for the past week or so.  Blue-winged Olives would considered a possibility by DNR fisheries staff. Some anglers were having success with streamers. Learn more at the DNR’s Trout Streams page. Before you go, check out the “Area Highlights” section of the Lanesboro Area Fisheries web pagefor stream maps. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com

Albert Lea Area Lakes

The 72nd Annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener will be held May 9-12, 2019 on Fountain Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Albert Lea area. Located about 75 minutes south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Albert Lea is nestled between Fountain and Albert Lea lakes. There are 13 lakes in the area, many offering fishing, boating, kayaking and canoeing. In the heart of the city, the 521-acre Fountain Lake features several great fishing bays and is home to 20 species of fish, including largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, crappie, catfish and yellow perch. 800-345-8414; www.albertleatourism.org

Ortonville – Big Stone Lake

The bite seems to improve each day the water warms on Big Stone Lake. Anglers having the most success are casting jigs into 1 to 5 feet of water on the rocks. The water is dirty and high so plastics have been best for walleye. The walleye season is continuous on this border water. 800-568-5722; www.bigstonelake.com

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Northern Minnesota Early Ice Fishing: Early ice is not safe, wear life jackets!

November 30, 2017

thin ice sign

With daytime temperatures still climbing above freezing even in the northern parts of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding outdoor enthusiasts to stay clear of early ice and use extreme caution when recreating on dangerously cold water. 

Although some locations in the northern and western regions of the state were reporting ice formation at the end of November, the recent fluctuations in weather have led to degraded ice conditions and warnings from public safety officials to stay off the ice until at least 4 inches of new, clear ice is present.

“No fish is worth the risk of going through thin ice,” said DNR conservation officer Lt. Adam Block. “At this point, it is going to take several consecutive days of below-freezing temperatures before enough solid ice has formed to support foot traffic, and even longer before ATVs  and snowmobiles should be on the ice.”

A recent tragedy occurred in northern Minnesota when two anglers lost their lives after breaking through thin ice on their ATV. Several emergency ice rescues have also taken place over the last few weeks. Last winter, two people died after breaking through the ice.

Block stressed that once ice formation picks up again, it will be important to stay vigilant about safety on the ice, since conditions can be unpredictable and vary greatly even on the same body of water.

“In addition to checking conditions locally and being prepared with an ice safety kit, anyone recreating on hard water should be wearing a life jacket,” Block said. “A life jacket is the one piece of equipment that exponentially increases your odds of not drowning from cold water shock, hypothermia or exhaustion should you fall through the ice.”

General ice safety guidelines:

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice,” but following these guidelines can help minimize the risk:

  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure
  • Check ice thickness at regular intervals – conditions can change  quickly.
  • Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.
  • Don’t go out alone; let someone know the plan and expected return time.
  • Always wear a life jacket on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:

  • 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
  • 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
  • 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
  • 12-15 inches for a medium truck.
  • Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.

Open water danger
The lack of ice cover means many bodies of water in the state still have open water accessible to boaters. However, late season anglers, boaters and paddlers are cautioned that a life jacket is an absolute must on cold water.

“A fall into extremely cold water can incapacitate you within seconds,” said Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator. “Air temperatures have been relatively mild, but don’t let that deceive you. Water temperatures are dangerously cold across the entire state, which means it’s more important than ever to wear that life jacket.”

State statistics show that one-third of boating fatalities typically occur during the “cold water season,” and that in the vast majority of cases the cause of death is drowning due to not wearing a life jacket.

So far in 2017, three boaters have died on cold water, and 12 total boating fatalities have been reported.

“The last three years boaters have enjoyed extended seasons with mild fall temperatures and early ice out in the spring,” Dugan said. “With increased days on the water came higher fatality numbers and a dangerous trend, which should not be ignored. Ten of the 12 deaths involved male boaters who sadly drowned while not wearing a life jacket. This is a continuing and troubling trend that will only plateau or reverse if boaters in that high-risk demographic choose to put safety first by putting on their life jacket.”

For more information, visit mndnr.gov/icesafety and mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.

Minnesota fishing report

Minnesota fishing report from White Birch Resort. Check out the great deals from White Birch Resort for your next ice fishing adventure. Offering luxury cabin rentals for the winter with private hot tubs built into the decks.

All of the homes are located on Blackduck Lake which is a well known walleye and perch fishing lake.

For more information go to www.whitebirchresort.net

Preparing ice trails on Lake of the Woods; photo courtesy of www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com

Few anglers are venturing out now that ice is forming on bodies of water throughout the state — very little information on fishing activity is available at this time.

This is a good time for anglers to prepare their equipment and review the DNR’s Ice Safety Guidelines web page.

For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR’s Fish Minnesotaweb page.

Consider attending the Hard Water Fishing Expo at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Nov. 17-19. Discover the latest ice fishing gear, and attend seminars and Q & A sessions with Ice Team professional.

Northeast Minnesota

Duluth – Lake Superior, St. Louis River and inland waters

Fishing has been very slow this last week which is not unusual for this time of year. Water surface temperatures are dropping into the 30s with ice covering most bodies of water. Please note that none of the ice in the Twin Ports area is thick enough for ice fishing. Local anglers expect some fishable ice by the end of the month. Please remember no ice is ever 100 percent safe. It is important to check with area bait shops, resorts or guides before venturing out. This is the time of year to properly clean, organize and prepare your boat for winter storage. It is also a great time to clean, organize and prepare for the upcoming ice fishing season. 800-438-5884www.visitduluth.com

Northwest Minnesota

Baudette – Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River

Ice stretches as far as the eye can see from the south shore of Lake of the Woods. All of the back bays are now frozen over. The Rainy River is covered in a skim of ice aside from a few areas with open water. The water temperature is roughly 33 degrees so the cold nights will help build ice. The spearing season began Nov. 15, and spearers are eager to head out onto Bostic Bay where measurements have shown 6 inches of ice in some areas. Walleye and sauger are staged along the south shore. They can be found at Pine Island, Zippel Bay, Long Point and Rocky Point. At the Northwest Angle, many areas have frozen over and some area residents who are very familiar with the lake are using snowmobiles to access the islands. Expectations are high since large schools of walleye were found in these areas just before ice-up. Before venturing out onto the ice, please check with a local resort or bait shop for the most up-to-date information on ice conditions. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com

Detroit Lakes

While ice has formed on most waters throughout the Detroit Lakes area, it is unsafe for travel. Most area lakes have roughly 3 inches of unstable ice at the shorelines, and a few remain entirely open. The recent pattern of cold days followed by a couple days in the high 30s will continue for a while so ice will probably not be accessible until after Thanksgiving. Please stay off the ice until there is a cold snap that lasts at least 5 to 7 days in a row. 800-542-3992www.visitdetroitlakes.com

Central Region

Isle/Onamia – Lake Mille Lacs

The DNR has announced that walleye fishing on Lake Mille Lacs will open on Friday, Dec. 1 with no bait restrictions. Anglers may keep 1 walleye measuring 20 to 22 inches, or one longer than 28 inches. For more information on Lake Mille Lacs regulations, check out the DNR news release from Nov. 3. 888-350-2692www.millelacs.com

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Stillwater – St. Croix River

As of Nov. 9, limits of walleye and sauger were being pulled from the St. Croix River.  Anglers were also taking some huge white bass – these fish are always fun to catch! Just some of the many techniques turning fish include jigging raps, spoons, rapalas, jigs with plastics, and rigged minnows, especially in 18-34 feet of water. www.discoverstillwater.com

Southern Minnesota

Lanesboro – Southeast Bluff Country trout streams

As of Thursday, Nov. 16, fisheries staff reported that most area streams and rivers were clear with a normal water flow. Please note that Whitewater State Park is closed for their firearms deer hunt this weekend, November 18 and 19. No one will be allowed in the park unless they are deer hunting and have the appropriate license. There were some amazing midge hatches on Sunday, Nov. 12, with fish being caught on midge adults, pupae and larvae patterns. Southeast stream trout maps are available under “Area Highlights” on the Lanesboro area fisheries web page800-944-2670www.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.

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Contact White Birch Resort for Your Next Minnesota Vacation Experience
218-835-4552

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WHITE BIRCH RESORT

Bemidji Region - Minnesota
18882 North Blackduck Lake RD NE Hines, MN 56630 Office 218-835-4552 Cell 218-553-0210
Email - vacation@whitebirchresort.net