451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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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!


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.

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.

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.