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

Reminder: Fishing licenses from 2013 expired Feb. 28th this year as opposed to April 30th of previous years.

Crappie and sunfish along with various trout species are now becoming the targets of choice for anglers still in search of a good fish fry. With difficult travel conditions on most lakes this season please keep in mind that there are still slushy patches underneath the frozen crust of area lakes which will prevent many folks from traveling too far from the beaten path. Where there are still ice roads that have been plowed we ask that you refrain from drilling holes within the roadway. Flooding can and will occur and prevent future travel on the road as the weight of the snow adjacent to the roads will cause water to rise from the holes.

Fair crappie and sunfish numbers have been reported from Bass, Birch, Fall, and Low lakes here locally. Most anglers are using small minnows on a dead stick and jigging with small spoons or jigs tipped with wax worms or minnow heads.

Some nice rainbow trout are being taken from Miners and Tofte Lakes, but no ice roads are present there so travel will be on foot or with snowmobiles. High and Dry lakes are beginning to see more fishermen trying their hand at rainbows, browns and brook trout. Small spoons such as Buckshots and Forage Minnows are becoming increasingly popular when tipped with either small salted minnows or wax worms. Remember that live minnows are prohibited on designated trout lakes.

Walleye and pike fishing is still allowed on Canadian border waters such as Basswood Lake through April 14th when walleye season closes there.


Another walleye and northern pike season has drawn to a close, but it's not time to hang up the short rods and tip-ups just yet. We are on the cusp of some great crappie, sunfish, and perch fishing before the ice gives way to open water fishing. If this season is anything like last year, we still have a couple of months to fish the hard water.

Crappies, some reaching two pounds or more are there for the taking. Deep water is the best target area until the water begins to warm, so concentrate your efforts to the deepest holes on your lake of choice. Bear Island Lake just south of Ely is one such gem of a panfish lake. Bragging size crappies and sunnies roam the deeper pools of this lake down to thirty-eight feet. This is where lightweight braided lines make a huge difference for catching fish rather than going home with an empty creel. The small diameter line falls quickly with even the most diminutive jigs, with little or no stretch to keep you in contact with these light biters. Small spoons such as Forage Minnows and Buckshots tipped with a couple of wax worms or minnow heads are excellent choices for probing these depths.

Stream trout and lake trout too can make these seemingly never ending winter days a much more pleasant experience. Burntside and Snowbank Lakes are well known for lakers up to twenty pounds. Spoons, Chubby Darters, and white tubes on a jig can fool these hard and hearty fighters into coming home with you. Another good bait alternative is using a ciscoe fished right on the bottom. Raising and lowering your line from time to time will assure you that the bait will not be residing in a crevice between the rocks or boulders on the bottom. Currently most lake trout are being taken from thirty-five to fifty feet of water, and will gradually head shallower as the water begins to warm. Rainbows, brook and brown trout, and splake can be tempted to bite in six to twenty feet deep. Small spoons or jigs tipped with minnow heads or wax worms can be deadly on these beautiful and tasty fish. Tofte, Miners, and High and Dry Lakes are top choices for trout right now.

Fishing participants are on the lower end of the spectrum recently due to limited travel conditions on most area lakes. Travel remains limited to few ice roads that were plowed early in the season, but sled travel is still an option, when venturing off the beaten path.

Walleye reports still are mostly positive, however the size of these caught is still on the small size. Lake trout have still been fairly active on Burntside Lake, but reports out of Snowbank are few. Basswood Lake is the best option for size and number of fish caught, but the only way to get to them is on skis, on foot or by dogsled.

Decent pike catches have still kept some anglers busy chasing tip-ups in five to fifteen feet of water while using live suckers or ciscoes fished right on the bottom. The coming weekend promises a warming trend into the teens, so traffic should pick up.

Bring the family along to enjoy the Ely winter festival and view the snow carvings in Whiteside park . The event runs through February 16th.

Good catches of walleyes have been reported lately. Anglers fishing in water 18-20' have had the most success. Only a few road accesses are available, but just a short walk beyond is paying off for some folks. Walleyes up to  20" have been reported and most are falling for Buckshot and Forage minnow spoons tipped with a minnow head or wax worms. There are others just using a live minnow under a bobber fished within a foot or so off bottom.

More big pike are coming to the hole when freelining sucker minnows up to 8" long. Concentrate your efforts on areas that have a drop-off from 6-20', or former weed edges. In many of these cases it is just a short walk from the roads.

Limited amounts of crappie and sunnies have been taken from Bass, One Pine and Johnson , and East Twin. Small jigs tipped with wax worms or minnows are doing the job in 8-12' of water.


Fishing action has slowed somewhat or less fishermen and women are out on the ice. Some of this may be due to the fact that ice travel is very limited as a result of heavy snow and slushy conditions. Walleye bite remains consistent, but over all catches seem to be on the small side. Buckshot and Forage Minnow spoons still enticing the walleyes to bite when tipped with a minnow head and dead sticking minnows under a bobber is perhaps the easiest way to entice otherwise slow biters.

Trout action remains fairly steady with good catches of rainbow trout coming from Miners, Tofte, and High Lakes. Small dark jigs such as black ants tipped with wax worms seems to be the best method to get them to bite. Lake trout action has slowed as well, this is undoubtedly due to the ice conditions where maneuverability is severely restricted.

Still some pike are being caught using either suckers or ciscoes as bait.