451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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As the weather begins to cool, many of the sought after species in the area becoming more active. Walleyes are beginning to move off the reefs and sunken islands and are foraging in and around deeper mud flats. Try dragging a spinner and crawler combo in twenty feet of water or more. Anglers on Vermillion Lake are saying that some of their best action has been in thirty to thirty-five feet of water. Spinner rigs are working for some as are crank baits with some weight ahead to get them down to that depth if you don't have downriggers or Dipsy's. Crappies are beginning to bunch up too as the water cools. You should find them suspended somewhere around half way down in water depths of twenty feet or more. Minnows will work under a slip bobber, but a Beetle Spin or tiny crank bait trolled along at that depth will help you to locate the schools before you set up for bobber fishing. Some big pike are into their fall feeding pattern and are slamming both spinner baits and spoons fished around weed or rice edges. Smallmouth bass continue to engulf top water baits cast along shore lines and rock piles early and late in the day with mid-day action coming from a bit deeper water with soft plastics and cranks.

Those fishermen who have been putting in the time seem to be doing very well out there lately. The walleyes have been staggered throughout the water column, coming out of twenty feet of water all the way up to four to six feet. Most are using crank baits, such as Shad Raps and Flicker Minnows, but many are relying on live offerings with crawler harnesses being their go-to bait. A few have found that working a slip bobber and minnow combo around reef and island edges was the thing to do. Bass fishermen have been having one heck of a good time whether using sub-surface baits, or ripping top water baits near weed beds or island points. Hula Poppers, Jitterbugs, and Rapala Skitter Pops were working well in the shallow bays. Pike anglers are plying the waters with large spinner baits and spoons, and are cashing in on some healthy specimens up in the upper forty inch range. Panfish are definitely on the menu for quite a few folks, with sunnies up to a pound in weight and occassional crappies up to sixteen inches. Best fishing for them has been late evening with the crappie bite continuing into the darkness.


The walleye bite remains steady for most anglers who are putting the time in on area lakes. While not fast and furious, one can expect to catch enough fish for a shore lunch, or dinner at home. Crawler harnesses seem to be the primary way to catch them lately. Choose a spinner that coincides with the color of the water that you are fishing. Neutral tones like gold, silver, and white work best best in clear water lakes, and bright colors such as orange, chartruese, and fire tiger, work best in bog stained lakes. Crank baits too are working when plying the waters around sunken islands and reefs. Keep in mind that as the season progresses the bait fish population is growing in size, and it's not unheard of to use cranks up to six inches long.

Crappie fishing has been good for many, with fish up to fourteen inches being reported. Simple minnow and bobber rigs are working well, but many folks are discovering just how effective a tiny jig with a one inch Gulp minnow soft bait can be. These plastics work well, and one needs not rebait after every fish, so you can cast right back and stay in the action, which can be non-stop for several minutes or more before the fish move on.

Some large northern pike are falling for spoons and spinner baits fished along weed lines or rocky points. A large crank bait can be trolled or casted in these same areas to provide a great rod bending experience. For those that prefer a more laid back approach, try fishing a sucker minnow under a bobber either around the weed beds or just off the dock.

Walleye action remains steady on most lakes in Northeast Minnesota. Tactics have changed somewhat, with many anglers reverting back to fishing with minnows and crawlers now that the availability of leeches has dwindled due to seasonal changes. Many saavy anglers are working larger profile crank baits around sunken island and reef edges as well, with continuing success. Fish are holding in slightly deeper water throughout mid-day periods, and moving into the shallows during low light conditions early and late.

The smallmouth bass action has been awesome, with top water baits getting smashed by these aerial acrobats. With all the rocky shorelines available, there's plenty of bass holding structure all around the norhtern tier waterways. Some bass fishing afficionados are using soft baits on a jig or drop-shotting these offerings around sunken rockpiles and doing quite well.

Panfish have been the way to go for those wishing to gather a good quantity of filets for a fish fry. Sunfish are very active and will take anything from worms, minnows or artificial offerings whether sub-surface or top water. It's a blast at this time of year to have some jumbo sunnies and crappies slurping up popping bugs or flies from the surface, and young or old anglers alike get caught up in this frenzied action.

Bragging size pike have been smashing baits on Shagawa and Birch Lakes recently. Large crank baits and spinner baits are doing the trick when fishing there. Shagawa also has a developing herd of muskies up to fifty inches in length that are surprising even walleye anglers trolling crank baits.


Most successful anglers are rediscovering the merits of going "old school" by using crawlers on a spinner rig to get in on the walleye action. Good numbers of fish are being taken while trolling these rigs over and around sunken reefs and deep island points throughout the area. Some are also having success with larger size crank baits such as Flicker Minnows and Shad Raps in the number eleven size. This makes sense as this time of year most of the minnow hatch size have grown to these proportions.

Crappie action too has picked up some steam and chub minnows that are slightly larger than the standard crappie minnows have been accounting for fish up to fourteen inches. Most of these fish have been holding suspended over deeper water.

Some nice lake trout have been caught on Burntside Lake by anglers trolling spoons and large crank baits in water down to fifty-five feet. Trolling speed anywhere from two to three mph has rewarded these folks with fish up to ten pounds. White, silver, and orange seems to be the best colors for spoons, and silver shad and glass minnow colored Rapala Husky Jerks are the best choice in cranks.

Some huge smallmouth bass are also falling for crank baits for some, while others can't resist the explosive action of the bass smashing top water baits worked early and late in the day. Try surface poppers or the old reliable Arbogast Jitterbugs for some awesome visual action.