451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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Anglers in the area are still managing some impressive catches these days. Many of the walleyes being caught are still coming from relatively shallow water and this trend may continue for some time. Minnows have taken a back seat to leeches and crawlers, in the realm of live bait preferences, but some anglers are doing well with plastic offerings too. Whether it be crank baits slow trolled, or soft plastics jigged down a rocky point, the results remain the same. There still are a few fish out there willing to be caught.

Another fish of choice right now are smallmouth bass. With the warmer water temps, the fish are responding to most presentations, but the fan favorites are top water baits. When a smallmouth explodes on a surface bait, it really kicks in your adrenaline, and when you feel the drag scream with a five or six pound fish, it's just an awesome feeling. That's why we do it.

Crappie fishermen are having some success right now, but the action seems to be just building. As weed cover becomes more prevalent, schools should begin to congregate, making for hotter action. Some anglers are trolling safety pin type spinners with a jig and soft plastic tail or small crank baits to locate the pods of crappies. You can then work them over till the school moves on.

Lake trout trollers have been scoring as well on Burntside Lake. Some times it's even worth the hassle of the congestion at the landing at Van Vac. Lakers up to ten pounds or better are nailing spoons and crank baits. The lake hasn't heated up yet, so many of the fish are patrolling water in the thirty foot range. Downriggers are nice, but you really aren't out of the game without one. There are many rigging  techniques to get you down "in the zone" such as in-line weights, or Dipsy and Jet divers.


The walleye bite remains fairly consistent for many anglers throughout the area lakes. Some folks though are not heeding good advice and remain bewildered by their lack of success. The walleyes this season have remained in relatively shallow water for much longer than is usual. Perhaps this is due to the colder water which is pushing the bait into the warmer water near shore. Most fish are being taken in water from four to ten feet, and this isn't just true for walleyes, as the bass and northern pike are there too. In the past anglers have found their fish in fifteen to twenty-five feet, but that's just not the case this year. It will happen, but it may take a couple more weeks before that takes place. Bait used has little effect on success, as leeches crawlers and minnows all seem to be working, as well as trolled crank baits.

Crappie fishing has begun to kick in as the spawn is taking place right now. Try working emergent weed edges with either a minnow or soft plastics on a jig under a bobber. It's hardly possible to fish too shallow as some are catching crappies in as little as two feet of water. When fish are this close to the surface, stealth is of the upmost of importance. Stay well away from the schools and use the smallest offerings on the lightest line that you can adequately handle.

Many large smallmouth in the twenty inch range are being caught and this action should continue for the next few weeks. For now use a slower approach with either live bait or some soft plastics like tubes or crawfish imitations. Soon the action will heat up with bass smashing topwater presentations, or crank baits worked along drop-offs or rock piles.

Northern pike are still hammering suckers fished under a bobber, but can also be taken by soaking a frozen smelt right on the bottom in water from four to ten feet. We're on the cusp of the spinner bait and spoon action, but for now a bait rig is working best.

The fishing in the Ely area has definitely taken a turn for the better recently. Many anglers have had good success in their pusuit of walleyes, especially those who ventured into the Boundary Waters. The action on Basswood Lake was exceptional with folks fishing there releasing large walleyes over twenty inches in favor of keeping the delectable eaters in the fourteen to eighteen inch range. Local lakes closer to town were giving up some decent catches, with just the opposite scenario of Basswood as anglers had to wade through and release many under size walleyes to eventually fill their stringers.

Big northern pike have been the target for many, and folks were tossing suckers out to catch a good number of pike in the forty inch range. Other anglers were pitching spinner baits and spoons to hook up with these toothy critters and had a ball just catching and releasing these clear water monsters.

The crappies and smallmouth bass are in the throes of the spawn currently, and people have turned their attention to really shallow water in search of them. The crappies are readily taking small minnows or tiny jigs and soft baits, while the smallmouth want bulkier offerings such as 3-4" tube baits and crawfish imitations. In many lakes, you can sight cast for the smallmouth if you check the telltale signs of them fanning out beds near shore. Polarized sunglasses are a big help in spotting the beds.

A few nice lake trout up to ten pounds have been taken from Burntside Lake as trolled spoons and larger profile crank baits are worked in water from 20-30' in depth.


Fishing action remains steady throughout the area. While few are reporting full limits, many are at least getting enough for a good fish fry. Walleyes have begun to scatter as water temps begin to creep up, but many still are roaming the shallows in search of a meal. Try working the near shore waters from six to fifteen feet. Bait choice is anyone's guess as anglers are scoring on minnows, leeches, and crawlers. Location seems to be more of a concern then bait offerings. It seems best at times to just troll along until you locate the fish, then work that area over. Some are finding that slow trolled crank baits are the ticket to success, and the larger size cranks are scoring the most fish. Apparently these fish are hungry after the rigors of the spawn.

Pike anglers are being rewarded as well, with fish up to eighteen pounds coming into the boats. Many folks still using large sucker minnows under a bobber to score, but many others are using a more pro-active method of throwing large spoons, spinner baits, and cranks. Most pike are coming from relatively shallow water, so one needs only to work along the shorelines and weed adges to connect.

Smallmouth bass fishing has really been taking off too. Many are still in the spawn cycle, which makes them easier to target as the telltale signs of their nests are readily visible. Try working soft plastics in and around the nest as the bass will attempt to move anything that poses a threat to their offspring. Small crankbaits worked in these same areas can be effective as well.

Crappie fishing has picked up as they have begun to spawn. Some fish are in water barely deep enough to cover their backs. Try using a small plastic tail on a tiny jig under a bobber to score some of these most mild tasty fish. Minnows will work too. This action should continue over the next couple of weeks before the water temps rise and they move deeper.

The walleye spawn is nearly over and fishing results are showing that feeding activity levels are increasing. Many walleyes are still being caught in relatively shallow water, and this should continue until lake water temperatures rise. Minnows have been the go-to bait, but leeches are taking their toll on some fish as well currently. Most activity has been around moving water such as where creeks and rivers merge with lakes. Some anglers are finding their success with slow trolled crank baits in the drop offs leading to the shallower flats late in the day. Bait fish are moving into the warmer waters near shore, and the hungry predators are there to welcome them.

Some big pike are being caught on live sucker minnows fished under a slip bobber or dead ones fished right on the bottom. Folks have discovered that frozen baits such as smelt will take the bigger fish that don't have to expend much energy chasing bait. This scenario is playing out in shallow water close to shore as opposed to deeper water later in the season.

Some crappies are being caught, but they seem to be a by-catch of walleye anglers fishing deeper waters. If you are going to target them, look for schools to be bunched up adjacent to shallow flats, where they will be spawning in the weeks to come.

Some decent lake trout have been actively hitting in twenty to thirty feet of water on Burntside Lake. Trolled crank baits and spoons have resulted in several fish in the ten pound plus range being taken there.