451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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While many anglers failed to fill their stringers, there were others who had no problem bringing in a good batch of eating size walleyes. Very few fish of any size have been caught. Most folks were finding the fish in relatively shallow water. Tossing jig and minnow combos along shorelines were the biggest producers, as the walleyes were chasing baits in three to six feet of water. Small crank baits were just as effective with number nine Shad Raps and Salmo Hornets taking their toll on the fish populations. Some shore bound anglers had as much success during these conditions as those in boats. A few big northerns have been reported as fishermen used suckers to lure these toothy critters from their shallow water haunts. Crappies have begun their spawning ritual as some anglers are finding them right up in the emergent weeds in as little as two feet of water.

The much anticipated walleye opener is upon us, and it's time to address all of the things that we've been putting off until now. First and foremost should be a good going over on your boat trailer. If you can't remember when you last replaced your wheel bearings, now is the time. Nothing sets the tone for the first few trips like breaking down on the side of the road just trying to get there. While you're at it, take a good look at your tires and make sure that your running lights are in good shape. Trying to do it in the dark on your way to the lake is not the time. As far as the boat goes, running lights there are important too. Make sure that you have a life jacket for everyone on board, it's the law, and the game wardens are more than willing to write you a ticket for that infraction. Remember also to have a throwable device when required. New gas in the tank is also a good idea if you haven't added a stabilizer at the end of last season. Another thing to keep in mind is to always have your drain plugs out of your boat and live wells until you are at the launch ramp.

Now, to get down to the fishing. A good majority of Minnesota anglers rely on the jig and minnow tactic at this time of year, and rightfully so, it is a very effective method. Tailor your jig size to the depth that you're going to be fishing. A quarter ounce of lead or less is fine for water less than twenty feet, then add a bit heavier jig when you drop below that level. Just make sure that you can remain in contact with the bottom without letting out too much line that will ultimately find you snagging more rocks than fish. Another very productive method at this time of year is trolling or casting crank baits. Fish really seem to key in on these larger profile baits right now as they are eager to put on some weight following the rigors of spawning. The new super lines and braids really shine when it comes to long-lining cranks. There is virtually no stretch and when it comes to a hook set with a lot of line out, this is the ticket. Be sure to add a fluorocarbom leader of at least three to six feet the end, it really does dissappear underwater. Some pros use up to twenty feet of fluorocarbom at the end of the braid so that you may trim some off during the trip to avoid retying twice as line becomes either nicked or abraded. Another tried and true method is using bottom bouncers with a spinner. You can rig these with either a single hook for minnows, or a two or three hook setup for crawlers. Either way, they are probably the most effective way pros and neophyte anglers alike score big.

The most important thing to mention throughout all of this is to just enjoy your time out there and be safe. It's always a good idea to wear a life jacket, especially at this time of year when the water is still cold. Be a good mom or dad, friend, and mentor and take a kid fishing.



 Many folks are taking advantage of the fairly mild weather patterns of late and the exceptionally good ice conditions to extend their hard water season. Ice thickness varies marginally, but most lakes still have twenty to twenty-two inches of good, solid ice. Some thinner ice is still being reported, but it remains mostly where there is some current and flowing water. If you can avoid these areas, you should have no problem manuevering around on nice, smooth ice with very little snow cover. Crappies are beginning to bunch up around deep water structure adjacent to shallow bays in preparation for ice-out and Spring spawn patterns. The most productive lakes are Birch, Fall, and Twin Lakes, although other lakes such as Bass, and Low Lakes are producing their fair share. Dead sticking minnows are working well, but small soft plastics on a jig seem to be working equally well. Sunnies too are snacking on wax worm and jig combos and in some cases, the larger ones are taking small minnow rigs targeting crappies.Lake trout action remains good on Burntside Lake and Snowbank. Most action has been attributed to jigging tube baits on both lakes, and dead sticking smelt or suckers have been working on these lakes as well. Some folks are taking advantage of the ideal lake travel conditions and have been trekking into the border lakes within the Boundary Waters as travel conditions remain excellent. A reminder that trout season ends on the 31st of March outside the Boundary Waters.

Lake trout season is rapidly coming to an end here in Minnesota and some anglers have seen some good succes catching these tackle testing fish. Burntside, Snowbank, and Basswood Lakes have definitely been placed on the list of go to places to target the species. Active jigging has proved to be the best method to achieve success. Stream trout action has been sporadic, but some anglers have managed to catch at least a few on Miners, Tofte, and High and Dry lakes.

Crappie fishing has been somewhat disappointing when compared to past seasons, although there have been some reports of decent catches. Live minnows suspended above the bottom where the fish are beginning to congregate seems to be most effective.

A word of caution. Lake ice conditions are still good on most lakes in the area, but accessing some where moving water is present can be challenging. With the advent of warmer weather,it is only a matter of time when one might have to hang up the ice gear for another season. We have been fortunate here in the north country, as other parts of the state currently have no fishable ice.

Since the close of walleye and pike season, anglers have turned their attention to trout and panfish in the area. Lake trout have been providing a good bit of action on Burntside Lake. The trout have begun to show up in relatively shallow water, from twenty to forty-five feet of water and are responding well to active jigging throughout the water column. Stream trout have been responding to small spoons and jigs tipped with wax worms on Miners, Tofte, and High and Dry Lakes.

Crappie action has begun to heat up on Fall and Birch lakes with minnows being the go-to bait, however more anglers lately have been using small soft baits rigged on a jig head. Fish may been suspended a bit off the bottom in some of the deeper spots adjacent to soft bottom bays in fifteen to twenty-one feet of water. Some nice sunnies are attacking the same baits that are being used to target the crappies.

The ice still remains fairly good on most lakes, but caution still should be taken when navigating around moving water and choke points. Ice thickness varies, but many lakes have around twenty inches of ice left on them. Anglers are still driving full size vehicles on both Burntside and Birch Lakes.