451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
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Fishing Report
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Lake trout continue to captivate anglers' attention on Burntside and Snowbank Lakes. A good number of trout have been taken from both in recent weeks, and the action should continue right on through the end of the season on April 1st. Most successful anglers have been bringing fish out of the holes by active jigging, whether it be spoons like Slender Spoons PK's Flutter Fish or Tinglers and Tumblers, and soft plastic jigging lures such as tubes from Gitzit and Berkley, or other soft paddle tail baits. These are active presentations where one must keep the bait moving, and work the water column from bottom to top, with some fish chasing the baits from the very bottom in fifty feet or so, all the way up to just below the ice. For the more laid back angler, a frozen smelt or live, small, sucker fished right on the bottom under a tip-up or dead stick seems to be doing the trick.

Crappie anglers are now taking to the ice as well as temperatures become more moderate. The weather is important as anglers should stay mobile when fishing crappies, as the schools tend to move around more at this time of season rather than holding in one spot that can be fished from a portable or permanent ice shack. One can use a shack as a place to warm up, but the best way to approach the fish is to be mobile, and drill as many holes as you're comfortable doing.

Some folks are having moderate success with the local sunfish populations on lakes like Armstrong, One Pine, Johnson, Low, and East Twin. This action should heat up as well as the season progresses and temps begin to become more comfortable. Small jigs tipped with minnow heads or waxies have been working well.

While the walleye fishing continues to dissappoint, the trout fishing picks up the slack. Most anglers in the area have turned their attention to trout fishing as a good alternative recently and many have had some good success. Lakes such as Burntside and Snowbank have been turning out a few nice lakers up around seven pounds, with many more in the three to five pound range. Active jigging seems to be the most productive method, with baits such as soft tubes, Jigging Raps, Slender Spoons, and Airplane Jigs leading the way in preferred lures. Anglers are also picking up fish right on or near the bottom with smelt or live suckers fished either under a tip-up or hanging on a "dead" stick.

Stream trout fishermen are scoring some impressive numbers of rainbow trout on Miners, Tofte, and Dry Lakes with most of the action within viewing distance of the hole. It is great fun to actually see the trout come in and approach your bait, and to see how they  react to your offering. Most fish are responding to either small jigs tipped with wax worms, or to salted minnows fished from ten to fifteen feet below the surface. The viewing is as much of a pleasure in these clear waters as is the actual hook-up of a fish.

Crappies are beginning to show up for many anglers who are now turning their focus to them as the season progresses. East Twin, One Pine Fall Lake and Birch have been the most popular of late. This action should continue to gain momentum as the season wears on, as the fish begin to bunch up, and the weather improves bringing out more folks on the ice. Small minnows fished near the bottom are the bait of choice right now but as the fish become more aggressive, small micro soft baits will begin to turn more fish into biters rather than lookers.

With the walleye angler success rate at an all time low, most fishermen and women have turned their focus on the trout fishing in the area. Lake trout have become the number one target for those looking for some action, and for the most part have been rewarded with some decent catches. Burntside Lake leads the pack with some fish around the five to seven pound range being taken there. Number one method has been a run and gun approach with tube jigs and small spoons being the best tactics for putting fish on the ice. A close second has been to lay a smelt right on the bottom under a dead stick or tip-up.

Rainbow trout have been a hot topic as well on lakes such as Tofte and Miner's Pit. Most fish have come by either using a small jig tipped with a wax worm or dead, salted minnows in shallower depths. Try fishing down from six to fifteen feet beneath the ice for best results. Some folks have picked up a few nice splake from Tofte using these same methods in shallow water close to shore.

Crappie action has been light as is usual at this time of the season, but should gain momentum in the next few weeks. Best bets have been on Birch, East Twin and Low Lake.

A good number of lake trout and stream trout have been caught in the area lately. Many anglers are fishing for rainbows and splake on lakes such as Tofte and High lakes from early a.m. through the afternoon. Tiny jigs tipped with a couple of wax worms have been working well, as do smaller salted minnows. Most fish are being taken within fifteen feet of the ice up to just below the hole. Many trout will cruise just under the ice, picking up insects that may have collected on the underside of the ice throughout the night. Lake trout have been lighting up anglers sonar units, but have been slow to respond to jigs for some. A smelt fished right on the bottom fished under a tip-up can be an effective presentation. Some anglers  have been putting lake trout on the ice up to eight pounds or so.

Some crappies have begun to respond to live minnows fished near the bottom in depths between twelve and twenty-one feet on East Twin and Brch lakes. This fishing action should continue to improve as winter wears on. Some of the best action should be closest to ice out, but some decent catches will appear a month or so before that actually happens.

Trout fishing seems to be what has been drawing most anglers to the lakes in this area recently, and with just cause. Limits of rainbow trout have been caught recently on lakes such as Miners, Glacier Ponds Tofte, and High and DryLakes. Most folks are fishing these beauties from just under the ice to depths of fourteen feet. Baits of choice have been varied, from wax worms and soft plastics on tiny jigs to fresh salted minnows. Remember, that only dead minnows are allowed on designated trout lakes. The best fishing times have been during mid-day, with a minor surge in activity at daybreak.

Lake trout too have been the pescatorial species of most die hard fishermen, and are targeting these fish on lakes such as Burntside and Snowbank, with decent numbers coming from both. Some hearty souls have been traveling to the Boundary Waters to Knife, Thomas and Basswood lakes with moderate success there as well. While no true giants have been coming to the scales, many three to six pounders have been caught with a few approaching ten pounds. These waterways have only minimal snow cover and decent ice beneath it, so travel by light truck, sled or four wheeler appears to be no problem. This past weekend has shown that Burntside has even been a good destination for larger wheel houses.

Walleye fishing has been a bit disappointing, with meager stringers coming from Shagawa, Birch, and Fall Lakes. Anglers there are finding that it is much better to move often to attain the best results. Minnows on a dead stick will work, but a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head will tempt the more aggressive into biting. This is where it pays to have good electronics and use them to locate roaming schools of walleyes that are chasing schools of bait fish. Think of how you would approach a lake in the open water season. Would you just drive out on the lake, pick a spot and anchoer there for the day? Probably not. Most likely you would move on if you haven't been connecting with fish at a given spot. Same holds true for the ice fishing.

Most  lakes are sporting at least sixteen inches of ice, but it's best to drill as you go when approaching choke points and moving water. Remember that no ice is ever considered safe. Taking the little time and effort to drill a few holes as you go can save you many dollars and perhaps even your life in the long run. Be safe and good fishing!