451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
  • 218-365-6930

For many of the anglers heading out for trout opener, conditions were excellent, with mild temperatures, reasonably good ice conditions, and fish that were eager to bite.Burntside Lake led the way for angler success, with numerous lake trout in the three to six pound range and a few eight and ten pound range fish coming into the hole. White jig and tube combos were by far the bait to use, along with Jiggin' Raps, Chubby Darters, and Buckshot spoons which were also producing. A few anglers also caught some nice walleyes while working relatively shallow water around twenty to twenty-five feet. Rainbow trout were active on Miners Pit and Tofte Lake with some nice splake thrown in on Tofte. The rainbows were hitting small jig and wax worm combos and small jigging spoons. A few folks were using salted minnows with some success as well.

Walleye fishing elsewhere in the area was a bit disappointing, as many small fish were caught and released, with only a few solid keepers being taken.

Crappie fishermen were still managing some limits from Birch and East Twin, with lesser amounts from, Fall and Bass Lakes.

As the thickness of the ice improves, more and more anglers are heading out on area lakes. Most lakes have at least ten inches of good, solid, clear ice, but some areas that have moving water can have as little as four inches. Some bays that are protected have as much as fourteen inches.

Walleye fishing has produced some decent numbers of fish, but most are on the small side, with few keepers being reported. Pike fishing on the other hand has been more productive and many anglers are targeting them these days. Suckers and shiners are proving to be the preferred bait.

Many anglers have been chomping at the bit to get in on the trout season which opens on the 14th of January this year. Hopes are high that conditions will be conducive to safe travel by then. The two lakes that will be seeing the most traffic are Burntside and Snowbank Lakes for lake trout. Due to the ciscoe shortage of late, perhaps more anglers will take a more pro-active approach to targeting this very desirable fish. Many will find just how productive active jigging with baits such as Jigging Raps, Chubby Darters and white soft bait tubes can be. Some jigging spoons such as Kastmasters, Little Cleos, and Buckshots by Northland tackle are favored my many folks too. Stream trout species such as rainbows, splake and brookies will provide action as well on lakes nearby like Miners, Tofte, Glacier Ponds and High and Dry. Small jigging spoons and ice flies tipped with wax worms will work there.

We cannot stress enough that it's always a good idea to check ice thickness as you travel as it can vary widely.

The area lakes have seen light to moderate traffic, due primarilly to the variable ice thickness. Some lakes have twelve to fifteen inches of ice, mostly in protected bays, while other lakes still have some open water. Shagawa Lake has possibly seen the most activity with ten to fourteen inches there. Some permanent shacks have started to appear, but with that, some close calls around thin spots. Always check the ice thickness as you travel, as ice thickness can vary considerably. The walleye bite has been sporadic, with mostly small fish coming to the hole. Fall Lake has seen an uptick recently as anglers working the drops in fourteen to twenty-one feet have been connecting with some good size keepers. Some of the smaller local lakes have been turning out some decent sunnies, crappies, and northern pike. Spearing has begun to rebound in the past few years, and has been met with some good success as pike to forty inches have been reported.

The calendar may indicate that this is January, but the ice conditions relate more to November. A number of reports of vehicles through the ice have been coming in from around the state, with one right here in Ely on Shagawa Lake. We cannot stress enough how important it is to check the ice thickness as you go to assure yours and everyone in your party safe passage. Ice thickness can vary widely from one portion of the lake to the next. Run-off from land, underwater springs, even underwater rockpiles along a current seam, can all erode ice or prevent it from forming altogether. We are finding ice from four to twelve inches on the same body of water right now.

With that said, there are more folks venturing out on the ice, and reports are beginning to trickle in. Some anglers are managing to catch a few nice keeper walleyes, but as many of them state, there's more small walleyes that are being released. Buckshot spoons have seen the most action, when tipped with a minnow head. Work this lure with a jigging motion from right on bottom to a few feet up. If you have a dead stick set up with a minnow on it, jig along the side of it and quite often when you attract the fish with the lure, it can turn it's focus to the live bait, if it doesn't smack the lure first. Jigging Raps are also producing for some. Start out with the #9 size first, then work your way down if the fish approach but do not bite.

Northern pike have been the target for at least half of the fishermen out there. Suckers fished under a bobber has been working for most, but some people are having a ball fooling them with blade baits, Rattlin' Raps and spoons.

Panfish have been responding to small crappie size minnows or jig and wax worm combinations. Try working around submerged weed edges as some of them remain green and alive due to prolonged light exposure.

More and more anglers are venturing out as most lakes are sporting at least walkable ice. Ice thickness still varies widely, so caution while traveling should still be first in your mind.

Shagawa Lake reports 7-8" of ice, and there are a few permanent shacks in place there already. Some of the smaller lakes such as One Pine, Johnson, Armstrong and Robinson have 9" of ice on them. Birch and Fall Lakes thickness varies quite a bit with some spots on the main lake with 3-7" of ice while some of the bays have 7" or more.

Fish reports have been few and far between as traffic has been light. Vermillion Lake has been the best producer of keeper walleyes with some nice whitefish thrown into the mix. Shagawa has been turning out some walleyes, but most are on the small side, while the perch have have been near the jumbo category. Sandy Point has seen the most action recently. Some of the smaller lakes in the area have been turning out some decent crappies and sunnies. Wax worms have been the go-to bait for the sunnies when affixed to a dark colored jighead. The crappies have been hitting on small Buckshot spoons tipped with a minnow head or a small crappie minnow on a dead stick.

Pike fishermen and spearers have been having good success near weedy flats. Perch colored jigging lures such as Chubby Darters and Lindy Darters have been producing well for the active anglers, while light colored decoys or live suckers have been luring the pike to the dark houses.

It is still a good idea to drill holes as you travel as no fish is worth risking your life for. More ice is coming, count on it.