451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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Smallmouth bass fishing afficianados are having a heyday in the Ely area of late. Some impressive catches of these aerial acrobats are readily striking spinner baits, crank baits, and best of all for the show, top water baits. It's always an adrenaline rush when one of these very aggressive fish hits a surface bait and expodes into the air. Most of the lakes up here in the North Country have an ample supply of these fish, and they have saved the day for many anglers who have had limited success in their pusuit of walleyes.

Speaking of walleyes, there have been some decent catches of them in recent days, and some of them have been bragging size specimens. Burntside Lake has been producing some recently in the 27 to 30" range and that has put a big smile on the face of anglers there. Other lakes in the area have been producing walleyes in the fourteen to eighteen in range, which most anglers target as the best for the dinner table. Basswood Lake has been producing fine stringers of fish, but getting a permit to fish there is akin to winning the state's lottery.

Some lake trout are still co-operating on Burntside Lake as anglers drag either flutter spoons or large profile crank baits 30 - 45' down over water depths of fifty to ninety feet. Most action has been occuring around sunken islands or sharp island points that drop off into deeper water. Bait color hasn't been an issue as fishermen are offering a variety off colors without determining anypreference by the fish.

Big pike are still slamming sucker minnows, but the biggest of the species seem to be coming from water in the ten to twenty foot range as opposed to the shallows. Spinner baits and spoons still have been catching the majority of fish as one can cover much more water than using live bait. 

The smallmouth bass action has been dominating the fishing scene in the Ely area for the past couple of weeks. Anglers are battling these hard fighting and aerobatic fish on most any lake in the North Country. Whether you fish them on sub-surface baits such as soft plastic tubes, crawfish and crank baits, or on the surface with poppers, buzz baits, or plugs, the outcome remains the same, explosive action. Some of the bass are truly awesome, stretching out in over 21" of fury, weighing in at over six pounds.

Walleyes have been fairly co-operative, with many folks filling their stringers with nice keeper size fish. Although there haven't been near as many true bragging size fish, most anglers are happy just to take some home for the pan.

Northern pike in the forty inch range are being caught on a regular basis. Many folks are using large crank baits or spinner baits to locate and land these toothy critters. Some are still relying on the tried and true method of just hanging a sucker minnow under a bobber to catch what could be a fish of a lifetime.

The crappie bite never really took off after the spawn, but some have been taken on minnows or soft plastics on a jig in ten to twenty feet of water. around rock piles or other structure.

Rainbow trout have been falling for trolled spinners and diminutive crank baits fished anywhere from just below the surface, down to twenty feet, while others are just kicking back in the boat or on the shore with crawlers suspended under a bobber. Some rainbows that have been caught recently have exceeded twenty inches.

The walleyes seem to have settled into their summer patterns. Most of the catches have come from water in the fifteen to twenty foot range. The best bait currently appears to  be crawlers and leeches, with a lesser amount of folks still using minnows. As the water heats up, minnows are much harder to keep alive without proper care. The best way to keep them alive right now is to keep them in a cooler with some ice to keep them lively longer. Some new bait coolers now have aerators built right in and these are the best way to keep your minnows alive. This is why people have been using crawlers and leeches, as all you need to do is keep them cool, with no air necessary. The best tactics are to use spinner rigs or crank baits to locate the fish, then to work the area over with a live bait presentation.

Smallmouth bass have been the saving grace as they are more than willing to attack baits in shallow water. These fish are in a post spawn mode, and are more than willing to attack baits either fished at some depth, or right on the surface. Some impressive size bass have been smacking top water baits such as stick baits or frog imitations. Soft plastic baits have been doing well for some. Try plastic crawfish or tube style baits on a jig or weighted hook to connect.

Some impressive size pike have been hitting spinner baits and large crank baits fished in and around weed edges. Spoons work well too, but you need to use these outside the weedlines unless you are using single hook rigs that are rigged weedless.

Spoons have been the lure of choice for lake trout anglers too. Many lakers have been caught on Burntside Lake and Basswood working the spoons in thirty to forty-five feet of water. They can be trolled using downriggers or Dipsey Divers to achieve the proper depth.


Walleyes are still at the head of the list for folks fishing in the Ely area. Most anglers are using either crawlers or leeches to fill their stringers with these tasty delights. The fish have begun to stage around deeper structure such as Island points and deep water reefs, but some surprising catches are coming from shallower haunts either early or late in the day. The best way to narrow down where the fish are holding seems to be dragging a bottom bouncer and spinner combo to find the fish, or using larger profile crank baits trolled along at 1.7 to 2.3 mph along the structure adjacent to deeper water.

The smallmouth bass frenzy continues as the season progresses, with fishermen using either crank baits or soft plastics to ply the wters from three feet down to fifteen feet. The top water bite can be very productive as well. Try using lures such as Tiny Torpedos, Jitterbugs, buzz baits. Spinner baits will work whether fished right at the surface or allowed to sink a bit deeper.

Some dandy rainbow trout are showing up on stringers from Miners Lake and Tofte Lake. Most folks there are using small spoons or tiny Rapalas trolled along at ten to fiftten feet. Bank fishermen haven't been disappointed either as they fish a crawler of crawler salmon/egg combo under a slip bobber at these same depths. Casting spinners like a Mepps or Rooster Tails can be productive too.

Some big northern pike have been caught along weed edges or rocky points by either using a live sucker under a bobber or tossing a spoon or spinner bait in these same areas.

The crappie action remains slower than usual, but some people are managing at least a few fish for the dinner table. Most are finding the fish suspended in the water column at ten to fifteen feet. top baits are lively minnows fished under a slip bobber or a soft plastic tail on a jig.

Burntside Lake has been giving up some decent lake trout as anglers are dragging spoons or crank baits down thirty-five to forty-five feet. Colors don't seem to be as important as putting the offering in the strike zone.

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.