451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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Trout fishing has been dominating the angling scene even as the walleye and northern pike season is winding down, Walleye and pike season ends on the 24th of February this year, so if you desire these species of fish here in the North land, it's time to get out there and get in on the action. Many of the larger lakes have seen very little activity, but those venturing out on some of the smaller, out of the way lakes have been producing some decent catches. The fish seem to be a bit lethargic, so most are relying on a dead stick or tip-up to do the job. Fatheads or crappie size minnows seem to be the most productive.

The lake trout action on Burntside Lake remains steady, although most are reporting that the lakers are on the small size with two to three pounders being the norm, although some lakers are tipping the scales in the eight to ten pound range. White tubes have been responsible for the best success rates, with a lively minnow fished right on the bottom becoming a close second. Try your hand at working the entire water column in waters from thirty-five to sixty feet of water. Some nice rainbows are being caught on Miners Pit and Tofte Lake. Small dark colored jigs tipped with either a salted minnow or wax worm will work, however the hole-hopping fishermen are scoring some larger trout on small spoons.

Crappie action is picking up momentum on lakes such as Birch, Fall, and East Twin. Tiny jigs tipped with a minnow or wax worms have been working well. Jigging Raps and Jigging Shad Raps in size two or three have been taking some nice size crappies as the most aggressive fish are striking them usually on the first drop down the hole. There are times that the continued jigging action draws the attention of the fish and they just may strike a minnow fished near by. Try tipping the Raps with a couple of wax worms to add some scent and to encourage the fish to hold on long enough to get a good hook set.

Trout action remains steady throughout the Ely area, with the best reports coming in from Burntside Lake as anglers pursue the lake trout there. The lakers are running on the small side with three to six pound fish being the norm. Active jigging small spoons, rattling plugs and tubes seem to be the most productive. The white tubes are probably accounting for the highest success rate. When fishing them, it pays to work the entire water column as the strikes can happen anywhere from the lake floor to just under the ice. Some are catching a few lakers using live bait whether they be shiners, rainbow chubs or small suckers. These live bait rigs perform best when fished tight to the bottom. Tofte Lake has been producing some dandy rainbow trout up to twenty-three inches. The time of day doesn't seem to have any bearing on the fishing action. What's more important is to rule out non-productive holes, and just keep on moving around untill you mark the active fish. Depth has been a key factor as most action has come from six to twenty feet of water, which helps to eliminate a major portion of the lake right off the bat. One angler reportedly caught three nice splake on Tofte with the largest being six pounds.

Crappie reports have been minimal, perhaps due to the ice conditions of the past couple of weeks, however that appears to be changing as folks are able to drive most anywhere on the ice since the cold snap that we've had. Birch Lake heads the list for great crappie fishing as the length of this lake allows anglers to be spread out and explore the miriad of bays and structure along its length, The population seems to still be good, however the size of the crappies has become smaller over the past couple of years. This is not to say that you can't catch a few of those slabs that approach sixteen inches, it's just that the numbers of the bigger fish has slumped a bit for now. Small minnows on a dead stick work very well, but many more anglers are now finding that small jigs tipped with soft plastics such as Gulp minnows or white or yellow twister tails have been doing the job of bringing fish out of the hole.

A reminder, stay within 200 feet of any dead stick or tip-up that you may place out on the ice, and be sure to have your current fishing license on your person whenever you are fishing. When trout fishing, it is imperative that you also have a trout stamp.

The ice condions are slowly improving due to the below zero temps of late. Many lakes have up to fourteen inches of ice, and the slushy spots have frozen over as well. Some travel could still be difficult, in places where a crust had formed on top of the snow, but for the most part folks have been moving around using sleds and four wheelers with few problems. Some access points have seen some roads plowed and this should open up more opportunities over the next couple of weeks.

Trout fishing has dominated the scene since it's opening on the 12th. Lake trout on Burntside and Snowbank Lakes have been co-operating, with some fish in the five to eight pound range being taken. Active jigging with small vibrating lures, white tubes, and Jigging Raps have been working on active setups, and smelt or suckers fished on the bottom under a tip-up has resulted in a few fish too.

Stream trout have been very active on Miners and Tofte Lakes, with a few anglers coming in with limits of really nice rainbows and splake. Small jigging lures like Forage Minnows and small spoons have caught some bigger fish and small jigs tipped with wax worms or spikes and mousies have been producing good numbers.


The extreme cold temperatures of late did little to dissuade many anglers from their quest to find some fish for the dinner table. Several good reports have been coming in from the local trout lakes that have many anglers optimistic.Lake trout up to eight pounds have been coming forth from Burntside Lake, and that shows that the fish population remains stable there. If last season was any indication, then this year should prove to be as fruitful. White tubes and Jigging Raps have been doing an exceptional job of luring these hard fighting fish to bite. Some are also using spoons and doing moderately well. Stream trout have been coming on stronger as the lake conditions continue to improve. Miners Pit and Tofte Lake are still the top two as far as success rates go. Rainbow trout up to twenty-three inches have been coming to the hole in Miners and Tofte Lake has given up a few splake in the five to six pound range. Tiny jigs tipped with wax worms or small spoons worked in relatively shallow water have been working well. Glacier Ponds have also been in the sights of anglers seeking nice rainbow trout.

The walleye fishermen seem to have little success lately as most local lakes have seen a decline in the number of keeper size fish. Although, with some determination and a whole lot of hole hopping, there's still the opportunity to come away with a stringer of fish for the pan. Northern pike action has been steady, but few fish over the forty inch slot have been reported. Suckers fished along saddles and weedy drop-offs were still the best place to target these toothy, hard fighting creatures.

Lake conditions are just now becoming safe to travel as ice thickness has been around fifteen to sixteen inches and any slush that was covering the surface has been frozen with the recent advent of sub-arctic temperatures.

This season's trout opener is off to a less than idyllic start as lake conditions continue to frustrate anglers in the area. With a foot or less of ice on most lakes, topped with a foot or more of snow, travel has been restricted to sled, four-wheeler or on foot. The influx of wheel houses, that in the past has been the norm, was down to a few and those were left in either the resort and hotel parking lots or just parked at the landings. Some local anglers were starting to plow some roads out, but have been slowed by the slush that has made its way through to  the surface.

Some anglers that did brave the conditions were rewarded with a few trout. Burntside Lake was the headliner for lakers, with a few nice fish in the six to eight pound range. A few of those caught were within walking distance of the public access at Van Vac. Aggressive jigging has been the most productive method as is typical at this time of year. The most popular of baits have been white tubes, Chubby Darters and Little Cleo spoons. Dead stick and tip-up fishermen were having some success on frozen smelt or minnows fished right on the bottom.

Steam trout anglers were doing fairly well as they jigged tiny spoons or jigs tipped with spikes or mousies in the upper fifteen feet of the water column. The most productive holes seemed to be less than ten feet deep near the shorelines. The best approach was to slowly lower their offerings from just beneath the ice to the bottom and back. This could be indicative of the trout feeding on small insects rising from the lake bed, so keep your lure selection on the tiny size for now. This is almost surely to change as fish become more aggressive.

Panfish anglers have been doing fairly well on some of the smaller lakes. Although travel has been difficult, a good number of crappies and sunnies are being taken. Some of the sunnies have been around the eight or nine inch range which is more than an acceptable size for the pan. Small minnows and wax worm tipped jigs have been the ticket for bringing them out of the hole.

Walleye and pike have been slower to respond lately with folks only reporting moderate activity. The walleyes have been taking small buckshot spoons tipped with a minnow head or a full minnow set below a tip-up or dead stick. Small suckers have been the go-to bait for the pike.