451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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Another fishing season is upon us, and as the hordes of anglers who have decided to start it out in the Ely area, most were pleased with the results of their journey to the North Country. People have been coming to the Ely area from across the state, and across the country to pursue their dreams of catching big northern pike and the most sought after walleyes, This year, the largest hurdle was finding good supplies of bait to entice the bite. Bait shops across the state were having difficulties find live minnows and leeches, but businesses in our vicinity seemed to be able to provide what was needed. The second hurdle was trying to secure permits for the BWCA.

 The Great Boundary Waters permit debacle of 2019 has been temporarily resolved, and hopes across the board have been temporarily lifted as many anglers were able to at least get a few of the permits that were made available through the system that has been plagued with crashes and beaurocratic ineptitude.

Basswood Lake, in the Boundary Waters was THE place to be on opening weekend, as most who traveled there were very successful. Reports of stringers being filled within the first few hours were the talk of the town throughout the weekend. Many of the walleyes were in the 15-18" range which was fine for most, but some fishermen had caught and released many in the 25" and up range as well. Minnows have led the way for live bait, followed closely by crawlers trolled on a spinner harness.

Outside the Bdub, Fall lake anglers crowded the power dam and reported good catches there, however many of the fish were released due to their diminutive size. Shagawa Lake, which was once hailed as a premier destination, left a lot to be desired when it comes to catch rates. Some caught their share, but many others struggled to get a limit. Birch Lake was doing well for walleyes with most in the 15- 18" range, and some slab crappies found their way into the boats of anglers there. White Iron Lake appears to be slowly rebounding as far as walleyes go, with not only a decent amount of "keepers" but some larger eyes as well. White Iron's saving grace has been the northern pike which have been running on the large size. Sucker minnows have been the go-to bait for these whoppers this early in the season.

Remember if you are planning a trip anywhere up North, either wear a life jacket, or keep one close at hand as the water temperatures have only been in the mid forties on most lakes right now and hypothermia can claim the the lives of even the  best of swimmers.



Lake trout are still being caught on Burntside Lake, but most are on the small side. Fish from two to five pounds seem to be the norm. Active jigging still remains the best option to connect with the fish, but a few are also being caught on tip-ups or dead sticks baited with minnows or frozen smelt. Some nice rainbow trout were still bending rods on Miners Pit and Tofte Lake.

Crappie action is beginning to heat up on area lakes. Birch Lake saw a lot of action over the weekend, and most anglers saw some success there. Live minnows were the bait of choice, but some folks were using small jigs tipped with wax worms and hooking up some slabs with them. Hole hopping anglers were using plastics on a jig and were pulling one or two fish per hole before moving on. The action should just keep improving as the season wears on.

The ice on most lakes has been around twenty to twenty-two inches, but the accesses are beginning to deteriorate as the temperatures continue to rise.

Due to the slushy lake conditions and very cold windy days, very few anglers were out on the lakes. As more info becomes available, we'll keep you posted.

As the trout season draws to a close, some anglers are still venturing out and picking up a few nice fish. The ice conditions have been improving as the warmer temps begin to melt some of the snow and slush on area lakes. Travel by four-wheeled vehicles is possible now and should continue through the end of the month when the season officially closes. Burntside Lake has seen the most activity and folks there are managing to catch a few trout up to eight pounds. Bait of choice has been hands down the white tube jigs by Gitzit or Berkley fished throughout the water column. The stream trout lakes such as Tofte, High, Dry Miners, and the Glacier ponds have been turning out decent catches of rainbows and splake. Small spoons and salted minnows are working well.

Crappie and sunny fishermen have begun to pick up fish on Birch, East Twin, Low, and Fall Lakes. There still remains some slushy areas, but travel is still possible by sled or four-wheelers. Minnows are the bait of choice for many, however, a good number of anglers are beginning to see the merits of using small plastics on a jig to tempt the active feeders. Some will tip their offerings with wax worms, just to add a little scent to their baits. Gulp plastics by Berkley have a great scent built right in to their line of artifical baits that some fish find irresitable.

If you haven't done much ice fishing this season, now is the time to get out there while the weather is mild and ice remains relatively safe for travel.

Another walleye and pike season has been put to rest for a while, so most anglers have turned their attention to the many different trout that the area has to offer. Some nice lake trout have been active up in the Boundary Waters on lakes such as Snowbank, Knife, Thomas and Basswood. Getting into these lakes can be a struggle, as most of the lakes are covered in fifteen inches of snow, so travel on skis or snowshoes are the only way in if you're not running a sled dog team. Outside the Boundary Waters you can also pick up lakers on Snowbank and Burntside. Most folks have been using white jigging tubes, small spoons, Jigging Raps, and Chubby Darters worked rather aggressively throughout the water column. For a dead stick or tip-up, most are using either frozen smelt or a live minnow fished right on the bottom. The lake trout have been most active in waters from thirty to sixty feet deep.

Stream trout have been active too, with some rainbows up to twenty-two inches being brought to the hole on Tofte, Miners, and High and Dry lakes. Small spoons like Tumblers, Tinglers, Swedish Pimples and Buckshots will do the trick. Small jigs tipped with wax worms or salted crappie minnows will work as well. One group pulled a couple of splake from Tofte Lake that tipped the scale around five pounds, which are definitely bragging size.

Crappie anglers have been few and far between, but this action should kick into gear over the next few weeks.