451 West Sheridan Street Ely, Minnesota 55731
Fishing Report
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While the big walleyes remained elusive for most this past holiday weekend, most anglers managed to get some nice stringers of eating size walleyes up to twenty inches or so. Most had success trolling spinners with either leeches or crawlers attached or just jigging minnows in shallow water. Fall Lake led the way in numbers of fish, and the power dam was the place to be judging by the amount of boat traffic there.

Big pike were on the hunt as good numbers of them were reported around the forty inch mark. Live suckers fished under a bobber were working well for some folks, while others were using frozen smelt or alewives fished right on the bottom to connect.

A few lake trout are also being caught by some trolling deep diving crank baits on Burntside Lake. The fish seem to be holding in twenty to forty feet of water near deeper drops.

The crappie spawn has been put on hold due to the fluctuating water temperatures, although a few nice slabs have been coming out of Birch Lake.

In spite of the drop in temperatures and the scattered showers, many anglers were having some great success on various lakes surrounding the Ely area. Plenty of walleyes were being caught. although no true giants, many respectable stringers were noted with good eating size walleyes in the fourteen to twenty inch range. Jig and minnow combinations have been the winning combo for most, while others had some good luck trolling crank baits in relatively shallow waters near shore.

The bigger success stories have been coming from folks fishing either live suckers or frozen smelt and alewives targeting huge pike. Many pike have been in the forty inch range with a few nearing the fifty inch mark. Most activity seems to be in shallow water as the pike are on a feeding binge after their spawn.

Lake trout too have been cooperating and slamming either trolled spoons or crank baits in water from twenty-five to forty feet. They appear to be more aggressive as the water temps are rising ever so slowly.

The crappie bite has been put on hold temporarily as the water temps dropped just as they were beginning to stage for their spawning rituals, although a few have been captured incindentally by walleye fishermen working near shore waters.

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.



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.

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.