451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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The trout fishing opener had a less than stellar turnout this year, undoubtedly due the the arctic temperatures which had the thermometers registering around minus thirty degrees here in the North Country. Those folks who did venture out had moderate success, much in part that many anglers stayed in their shacks, rather than moving around in the frigid wind. Burntside Lake fishermen reported that the fish were not as aggressive, with tales of many fish that happened to dislodge the hooks easily, as they were not striking as aggressively as is typical of the species. Travel conditions on the lake were good though, with many areas having an ice road to navigate on. The recent snowfall hasn't had much of an effect for travel as it is mostly light and fluffy. Tofte Lake traffic was minmal with very few fish being taken there.

Walleye success has been hit or miss as of late. Some anglers fishing in water depth from twelve to sixteen feet of water doing the best. I doesn't seem to matter whether you"re fishing with a dead stick or actively jigging, both tactics seem to work equally well.

Crappie action has been slow, but should begin to build momentum as the season wears on. Birch, East Twin, and One pine Lakes are showing the best results at this time.

With the recent sub-zero temperatures most of the area lake have a good foundation of clear solid ice covering them Shagawa Lake which has seen the most traffic recently has sixteen inches of ice on most of the surface. There are exceptions though, such as parts of the lake that has moving water or necked down place between the islands where there is some current flow. This lake has had some pickup truck traffic of late and there are several ice shacks present there.

Walleye fishing seems to be slow to moderate, with the best action occuring after dark. Live minnows on a dead stick seems to be the preferred method for most, but many of the more successful anglers are using small spoons tipped with a minnow head ad slowly jigged starting on the bottom and worked up through the water column. For best results, change the minnow head often, as once the bait gets washed out, they become less effective.

Crappies are beginning to co-operate on some of the smaller lakes and small minnows under a bobber have been working well. Many folks are now using some of the micro plastics as they can be fished faster, with less down time rebaiting hooks when the bite is on.

Northern pike have been the target of many, whether it be by spearing, or by the use of tip-ups. The best action seems to come from using dead bait such as suckers or frozen smelt fished right on the bottom. This could be due to the extremely low temperatures, or the fact that the fish have to expend less energy chasing live offerings, or a combination of both.

Trout season has opened in the Boundary Waters on December 31st and many people are making the trek up into the remote lakes there with good success. Trout season opens outside the Boundary Waters on the 13th of January and quite a few folks have been gearing up for that opener. which should be great this year in light of the favorable ice conditions.

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.

More and more anglers are heading out on the ice recently and have been met with moderate success. Ice anglers and spearers have been racking up some impressive catches of northern pike from the areas local waters. Most have been working near shore waters in depths from six to twelve feet. Pike have been readily hitting dead or frozen sucker minnows and smelt fished right on the bottom. It appears that they aren't interested in chasing live bait as they are vacuuming them up from the lake bed.

Walleye fishermen have had some decent catches recently, although many are stating that a good number of those caught are undersized fish and are reluctantly releasing them. Some of the keepers though are of good size fish up to twenty inches. Buckshot spoons or jigs tipped with a minnow head or minnows on a dead stick have been paying off.

The crappie bite has been slow to materialize, but a few folks have been connecting with some slabs in the thirteen inch range. This fishery should improve as the winter season wears on.

The ice conditions vary widely, with some open water still being reported. Best places are the shallow, protected bays. While most people are using common sense, there are exceptions, as there are the few with total disregard for safety that are driving full size vehicles out on ten inches or less of ice. There are no fish out there worth risking your life for. Every year there are reports of lives being lost through the ice. Go out, have fun, but please exercise caution, and return safely.

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.