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

Fishing traffic has been extremely light recently, due mostly to the travel conditions on area lakes. The slush pockets are everywhere, so most folks are limited to getting around on foot. There is a limited amount of mobility on snowmobile trails, but even some of these have become deteriorated. Those who are moving around have been tapping into some nice fish though. Trout have been co-operating on lakes such as Burntside for lake tout and Tofte, High, Dry and Miners for rainbows. Salted minnows are working as well as small jigs and wax worms for the rainbows and ciscoes and airplane jigs and spoons for the lakers.

Crappie fishermen are just starting to venture out and within the next week or so travel with four wheelers should be possible, as the snow depth continues to diminish due to the warmer temps. The plus side to all this of course is that those who do venture out should have lakes pretty much to themselves.

The ice conditions remain an obstacle for all but the most adventurous of anglers. Foot travel still is the most viable option. Some snowmobilers are getting around on the lakes, but many of them have become mired in the extensive network of slush pockets. Keep this in mind if you choose to travel that way and stick to the well-traveled trails as most of them are hard packed and free of slush. There is security in numbers and help may often come in handy, so cruising in pairs is just plain good advice.

There are fish to be caught, and trout have been the target lately. One need not move too far out on the lakes, as most trout are captured in close proximity to shore. Lakes such as Miners, High, Dry, and Tofte are seeing the most traffic here locally. Small spoons or jigs tipped with wax worms or a minnow head are best for active jigging, but some rainbows splake and browns are gulping salted minnows dead-sticked or under a tip-up. A few twenty inch class lake trout have been caught recently from Burntside lake and have been landed using white tubes, spoons and ciscoes. The fish have been moving higher in the water column now and are hanging out in thirty to forty-five feet of water.

Crappies are a lesser target right now as it takes some moving around and that, in the deep snow, is a real chore. As the snow begins to settle and melt with the advent of warmer weather, conditions will change and become to be more tolerable.




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.

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.


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.