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

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.

Walleye succes recently has been a hit or miss opportunity on many of the local lakes. Some anglers are reporting good catches of "eyes" in deeper sections of water as the temps begin to fall, in some cases such as on Snowbank Lake down to fifty-five feet. Anglers fishing the same lake have been relegated to just a few keepers in the fourteen to sixteen inch range fish while plying relatively shallow waters. Action on the Prairie Portage end of Basswood Lake has been slow, while those fishing the Pipestone end are having much more success.

Pike and smallmouth bass action on the other hand has been very good on most lakes as the leaves begin to fall. Live bait such as suckers fished either under a float or slow-trolled in five to fifteen feet of water has been the way to go for some, but just as many anglers have been whacking some really nice fish trolling or casting spinner baits and larger crank baits.

Crappie action remains good with some reaching the sixteen inch mark. Birch Lake leads the pack in giving up some hefty stringers, but some of the smaller lakes like Johnson, East Twin and One pine are still producing good numbers of keepers too.

The much anticipated hard water season is upon us. Lakes in the area all have at least a couple inches on them and some have decent, walkable ice. Smaller lakes such as One Pine, Johnson, Robinson , and Armstrong have had some angler traffic already and the rest are soon to follow. Without a lot of snow cover the ice is steadily building, and should continue to do so, as temps remain in the single digits and below zero temps at night.

It should go without saying, but early ice should be approached with extreme caution. Always let someone know when and where you're going and when you expect to return. Safety should be your number one priority. It is advisable to wear a life jacket, inflatable vest, or one of the many affordable flotation suits that are becoming more popular of late. An ice chisel, or spud bar as many folks call them, should always be a part of an early season anglers arsenal. Drive the chisel into the ice ahead of you every few steps to check for thickness. If the bar goes through, back out, don't proceed thinking that the ice will get thicker. If you should go through, you'll be happy to have included a good, accesible, pair of ice picks. If you don't think your life is worth the few bucks that picks cost, at least carry a screwdriver in your pocket to gain some purchase on the slippery, wet ice to pull yourself out. Remember also to try to swim your way onto the ice rather than trying to push yourself up onto it. Every year people die from falling through the ice. Don't be a statistic, be smart, be safe, and live to fish another day. 

Check back with us often as creel reports will be available as more anglers hit the ice.

Good luck and good fishing!

Crappie fishermen have been dominating the scene lately as the fish are beginning to bunch up in deeper water. A good number of anglers are scoring big on lakes like Fall, East Twin, and Birch lakes. Most crappies are suspending three to eight feet from the bottom, and can readily be caught by dropping a minnow there. Some folks are using small spinners or diminutive crank baits to locate these roaming schools of fish, and this has led to a better understanding of just where these silver slabs are concentrating.

Walleyes too are beginning to put on the feedbag, and they have sunken to somewhat deeper water. Anglers are plying the holes adjacent to flats, where the fish are feeding at night. Trolling or drifting spinners tipped with crawlers or minnows are scoring some nice fish, and this action should just continue to get better as lake temperatures remain on the decline.

Pike and musky anglers are nailing some giiants as they ply the waters along weed edges with plus-size crank baits and large tandem spinner rigs. Some are finding these giants in deeper water as well, down to twenty-five feet or so. Keep in mind that these fish are becoming increasingly aggressive as teperatures fall, so speeds of 2.5 mph and more are not out of the question.

Smallmouth and large mouth bas are still on the agenda for many people fishing the local lakes. Keep in mind that bass fishing season remains open here in the Northeast quadrant of the state until February. Tactics are as varied as plying the waters with crankbaits, tube jigs and spinners all remain viable methods of catching these aerial acrobats.