451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
218-365-6930
Fishing Report
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More fishermen and women have been heading out on the ice recently and they have had some success. Walleyes and pike have been responding well for anglers working along the drops in seven to twelve feet of water. Most walleyes are striking dead sticks with a lively minnow on them, but a fair number have been hitting small spoons or glow jigs tipped with a minnow head. The pike have been picking up frozen smelt fished right on the bottom. Some crappies and sunfish are also being taken by folks tipping small jigs with wax worms and small minnows.

That being said, we must reiterate, that you should absolutely test the ice as you go this early in the season. Case in point, one angler failed to heed the warnings and was lucky enough to be around to enlist some help retrieving his ice shack on Tuesday that had broken through the ice on Shagawa Lake. Ice near shore may be adequate, but as you venture out, ice thickness can change dramatically due to currents and upwellings on the remainder of the lake surface.

There is no SAFE ice! That being said, there are places to fish here locally that have six to eight inches of clear, hard, ice. Most of the smaller lakes in the area have enough ice to support four wheeler and foot traffic. Lakes that have any size or depth to them still have areas of open water so if you feel you must get out, play it safe by drilling holes as you go. Some nice walleyes and perch are being caught on Shagawa Lake, and early morning and late afternoon seem to be the best time to target them there. One Pine and Johnson Lakes have seen some traffic and there have been some decent crappies and sunnies coming through the holes. If you're inclined to do some foot travel, Range Lake has been doing well with both panfish and walleyes throughout the day.

Just when you think you have the walleyes figured out, they change things up. Some anglers were reporting that the walleyes had gone deep, as that's where they were catching them. Lately though, they have been getting caught all throughout the water depths. Some in thirty feet of water, some in seven feet. Go figure. The best advice right now is to keep watching your sonar till you mark some fish and then go after them. Most are still using crawler harnesses, but a good number of fish are being caught using crank baits fished just above the bottom. Jig and minnow combos should start to produce once again as they had done in the Spring.

Crappie anglers are beginning to converge on Birch Lake as the action there is beginning to heat up. We still don't have the big schools bunching up, as the water temps are still a bit high at sixty four or five degrees, but this is soon to change as evening temperatures begin to fall. Crappie minnows are still the bait of choice, but safety pin spinners with a jig and soft tail make a good search tool as you slow troll to find the concentrations of fish. Watch for marks that are suspended mid-way in the water column, as this quite often represents the presence of crappies.

Many folks are chasing pike too at this time of year. The biggest fish of the season seem to get active at the onset of cooler weather. Big suckers fished right on the bottom will fool them time and again, but this can also be the time to dig out your biggest crank baits and work over the deeper weed edges and rockpiles to bring some giants to the net. This action should continue right up till ice begins to form.

Walleye action remains steady for the most part with fish holding in twelve to twenty feet of water. Reports of lake turnover are at best premature. Water temps are still in the upper 50s. Bait of choice these days has been spinners tipped with a crawler slow trolled along the bottom, although some folks still rely on a jig and minnow to tempt some into biting. Best lakes for results have been Fall and Birch, with a few good reports coming from Basswood in the Boundary Waters.

Northern pike are still on the prowl, and they're hungry. Try fishing spoons and spinners along deeper weed edges. Some fish over forty inches have been taken recently, although most have been in the two to five pound range.

Crappie action has been heating up as well. Cooler temps are triggering a Fall pattern where they start to bunch up. Fall and Birch have been leading the pack, but smaller lakes like Armstrong, Johnson, and East Twin have been turning out good stringers of crappies, and some fat sunnies.

The cooling water has pushed some of the walleyes down deep. Try working crawler harnesses along the drops in the deepest part of the lakes. Some folks are reverting back to a jig and minnow combo with success as well. Color of jig or spinner blades are not as important as location. If you're not marking fish, move on. Some walleyes are still roaming some shallower water late in the day as water temps begin to rise in the evening. Slip bobbering a minnow late in the day in ten to fifteen feet of water can be very effective.

Crappies are beginning to bunch up. Search for them to be suspended around mid way in the water column. Trolling a small safety pin spinner and jig like the Beetle Spin or tiny crank baits can lead you to the schools. Once located, you can readily catch them either on a live minnow suspended under a slip bobber or use one of the many small plastic baits on a jig, such as the one inch Berkley Gulp minnow.

Pike are starting to put on the feed bag too as winter approaches. Large crank baits, spoons, and spinner baits are working well. One can also use larger sucker minnows either suspended under a bobber, or just take a dead or frozen one and lay it on the bottom. Really big pike seem to prefer to take this easy meal as opposed to chasing at times.

Lake trout are beginning to move up a bit in the water column as lakes cool. Try trolling spoons or cranks in forty to fifty-five feet of water.