Open water fishing on the Rainy River; photo courtesy of www.rainylake.org
While small ponds and bays are beginning to freeze over, the ice is not solid or thick enough to support foot travel. Anglers are encouraged to brush up on their knowledge of ice safety through the DNR’s Ice Safety Guidelines web page.Few updates are available at this time as anglers put away their boats and begin to prepare for the ice fishing season.
If you’re dreaming of ice fishing, attend the Hard Water Fishing Expo at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Nov. 17-19, and discover the latest ice fishing gear including rods, reels, tackle, shelters, wheelhouses, sleds and more.
For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR’s Fish Minnesotaweb page.
Snow and wind over the weekend kept anglers off the water. With more lakes becoming inaccessible due to forming ice and cold temperatures, angler activity is virtually non-existent. 800-524-9085; www.kabetogama.com
Duluth – Lake Superior, St. Louis River and inland waters
Anglers are eager to begin ice fishing but they encouraged to hold off until the ice becomes more stable. Please remember that ice is never 100 percent safe and no fish is worth risking your life for. There are some good open water options still available. Island Lake north of Duluth is getting some action, and this is the best time to get a trophy muskie since they are at their largest weight. The best bet is to slowly drift a large sucker minnow with quick strike rigs. Some anglers are having mixed success chucking large baits to the shorelines. A few anglers continue to venture out on the St. Louis River with some having success with the walleye and crappies. A jig and minnow combination has been best, and there are lots of shore fishing opportunities for those who have put away their boats. The inland lakes are giving up some nice walleye off the deeper transitional waters. Again, a jig and minnow has been the most effective. Use your electronics when searching out fish – the best depths have been roughly 15 feet of water. A few crappies are still showing up with the majority pulled from the structure and common wintering holes. Stream fishing has been on the quiet side but there have been reports of anglers catching a few steel head, coho and browns. The best tactics have been swinging flies with “X” patterns, tossing hardware into the fast current, and using float indicators over yarn in the deeper holes. 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com
Baudette – Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
Some nice walleye continue to be pulled from Lake of the Woods. Ice has formed in the back bays but not on the main lake. Anglers are finding walleye staged in 7 to 30 feet of water across the south shore of the lake. Most are having success when anchored with a pink, pink/white or gold jig and shiner. The Rainy River is giving up walleye of all sizes with some large fish measuring over 28 inches being taken. Evening hours have been best. On the morning of Nov. 6, the water temperature at Wheeler’s Point public access at the mouth of the Rainy River was 36.8 degrees so it won’t be long until ice forms. Up at the Northwest Angle, some of the harbors are inaccessible due to ice. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
The small shallow lakes are freezing over so anglers are concentrating on the larger lakes. Anglers fishing from boats will want to concentrate on early ice locations and presentations. Fish the weedlines for walleye and suspended panfish. Panfish anglers are having success using slip bobbers with wax worms or crappie minnows. Walleye anglers are taking fish when trolling shallow-running crank baits at night. For northern pike, hit the weed flats using live bait rigs with chubs. Anglers looking with trophy pike and muskie will want to troll tullibee-colored baits. 800-247-0054; www.parkrapids.com
Otter Tail Area Lakes
Ice is forming on some of the lakes, but some anglers continue to head out in boats. Anglers waiting until ice is stable and thick enough for foot travel will want to consider winterizing their boats. Everyone is enjoying the impressive and unmistakable presence of the trumpeter swans that are passing through Otter Tail Lake Country in vast numbers. If you’re heading outdoors, please remember to wear blaze orange. 800-423-4571; www.ottertailcountry.com
Isle/Onamia – Lake Mille Lacs
On Nov. 3, the DNR 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 web page at mndnr.gov/millelacslake. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Lanesboro – Southeast Bluff Country trout streams
As of Thursday, Nov. 2, fisheries staff reported that most area streams and rivers were clear with a normal water flow. The streams were in great condition and the trout were colorful and spawning. On Oct. 31, midges were hatching. Maps of all the designated trout streams that are open from Oct. 16 to Dec. 31 can be found under “Area Highlights” on the Lanesboro area fisheries webpage. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
Anglers may obtain fishing licenses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by dialing 1-888-665-4236, or accessing DNR License Sales.