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image reader comments Reader Comments January 16, 2019 "Lund Alaskan Rod Storage"

Josh Fjeld wrote succinctly; “Hey Jeff, tell Lund to make the Alaskan with center rod storage.” 

REPLY: Thanks for the note Josh and thank you too for believing that I might actually have the authority to tell anybody to do anything.  

The truth is that when it comes to buying a boat, I’m a lot like you. I walk into Ray’s Marine showroom, get a quote on my next rig and then run over to Woodland Bank for a loan. My ability to influence anything depends on the few folks who I get to talk to while I visit sport shows or during my visit to the dealer.

I would like to weigh in on your comment though because as you know, I’ve had quite a few Alaskans over the years, in fact I still have one right now.

What has helped the Lund Alaskan gain such a loyal following is the boat’s ability to carry large loads. When folks need a boat that can carry anything to anywhere, using this boat is one of the best ways to accomplish it. It is the wide open floor plan that allows the Alaskan the ability to haul cargo. So while adding center rod storage seems like an attractive idea at first, doing that would actually diminish one of the boat’s best features, its wide open floor plan.

That wide open floor plan is what attracted me to the Alaskan in the first place. As a guide, it allows me to organize a lot of gear and offers my customers plenty of room to fish. I can use any presentation I want and there is always a way to get my customers lines into the strike zone. I can ask everyone to fish of the port side, starboard side, off the bow; anyplace, it all works.

It’s true, the rod storage in my Alaskan is rudimentary compared to what’s in my Pro V, but it works. I have about a dozen rods in my boat at any given time and I only use the port side locker to store them. I have rod sleeves on every rod and I point half of the rods toward the bow, while the others are facing the stern. That system allows me to get them in and out easily, and they are always protected and safe.

Lund offers lots of other options, but in my opinion, folks who like the simplicity of the Alaskan, want a tiller boat, but still want more features like the center rod storage, the Pro Guide is the way to go.

If I ever find myself in a position to do it, I certainly will pass your suggestion along. But for what it’s worth, I am pretty darn happy with the design of my Alaskan just the way it is.

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report January 15, 2019 "My First Ice Fishing Trip To Lake Mille Lacs"

image of Jeff Sundin with Lake Mille Lacs perch Let’s see, how many times have I driven past Lake Mille Lacs during winter, without ever stopping to wet a line there? Has it been one hundred, two hundred, a thousand times, who knows? I’ve fished it during summer, but in winter I’ve been driving right past all 132,516 acres without ever stopping a single time during my entire adult life. Yes that’s right, until yesterday, I had never ice fished on Mille Lacs Lake a single time.

In my own defense, I do live pretty close to some awesome ice fishing lakes. So I haven’t really felt “the need” to drive south during the ice fishing season, I’ve been content staying closer to home.

That all changed when my friend and frequent fishing partner Jon Thelen invited me to tag along on Mille Lacs yesterday. “It’s going to be a reconnaissance trip”; Jon said. “I’ve been hearing mixed reports about the ice fishing and I just want to check it out and see for myself”.

Only an idiot would turn down an offer like that because Thelen is among the foremost authorities on the subject of fishing Lake Mille Lacs. He’s guided there, fished tournaments there and spends most of his summer weekends there, at his cabin. If anybody could put me over the right spot, at the right time, it would be him.

We arrived at the lake during early morning; it was still dark as we unloaded our snowmobiles and portable shelters. By the time we moved toward the first spot, it was light enough to see, but under a grey, drizzly sky, it was still plenty dark enough to say that we’d be in time for the early morning bite.

image of Jon Thelen with Lake Mille Lacs walleyeWe parked at the first spot, Jon walked along, cradling his Humminbird and watching the chart. “Drill your first ice hole right here, there should be some fish moving back and forth between that deep point and this shallow flat. After we get set up, we can drill some more holes along the break and move between them.”

We hadn’t been there a half hour when Jon called me over to snap some photos of his first fish. It was a fat, healthy walleye just like the one’s I’d imagined, or at least hoped that we might catch. After an impromptu photo session, I got back into my shelter and dropped my Glow Spoon back into the water. It wasn’t long before I started marking fish; I caught a couple of Tulibee and a small walleye, but the action on this spot faded.

At the second spot, there was another wave of activity, I hooked and lost one nice walleye, had a few more sightings and then caught a rather large Yellow Perch, the first one I’ve ever caught on Mille Lacs. Yes that’s right, six decades had elapsed and Jeff Sundin never caught a single perch from Lake Mille Lacs, but I have now and I’ve seen what all the fuss is about.

I’d love to make another trip down there just for perch and when the time is right, I will. But Monday wasn’t the time; we wanted to check out as many walleye spots as we could, so that’s what we did.

Fishing mid-lake bars, we spent the majority of our time focusing on water depths of 23 to 28 feet. It seemed like the fish liked the shallow side of that range the best; 23 to 25 feet is where the better strikes occurred.

I’ve had Lindy Glow Spoons tied on most of my walleye rods all winter, yesterday was no exception and obviously they work on Mille Lacs as well as they have everywhere else.

For me, the ¼ ounce, Blue Scale color tipped with a minnow head worked out best. I can’t say for sure because we were fishing in separate fishing shelters, but I think Jon was using the emerald color.

The fish were semi-active, so the best way to fish the lures was slowly. Instead of jigging sharply or keeping the bait moving, it was better to use a shorter, more subdued lift-settle-lift jigging motion. I’d say moving the spoon up and down within about a 6 inch range was the best, allowing the spoon plenty of time at rest, so the fish could make their own decision about when to strike.

I wouldn’t want to give you the impression that we had hand over fist action, we didn’t, but the day was an interesting one. Between the fish we caught and the ones we spotted on our Humminbirds, there was plenty enough activity to hold our attention. I am very happy that we spent the day there and I’d love to see what happens during a “hot bite”. With luck, that day will come sooner, rather than later!

Before I go, let me add that travel conditions on Mille Lacs are much, much better than are the lakes closer to my home in the north central region. There were only a few inches of snow on top of the ice and the lake was virtually slush-free. There were some scattered patches of rough ice to steer around, but travel by snowmobile was really easy.

There were lots of pickup truck tracks on the ice too, mostly from the past weekend. While it didn’t appear that anyone had problems travelling off road by vehicle, I’m not sure that I’d feel great about driving my truck on the 13 inches of ice we measured out there. There are plenty of plowed roads out there though, so I guess that the rental operators feel pretty good about the conditions.

We’ve got a cold snap in the forecast this week and it will be interesting to see if it gets cold enough to help clear up slush problems around the Itasca Region. On Sunday, the Hippie Chick and I fished on Cutfoot Sioux and I was extremely happy to get on and off that lake without burying my snowmobile in slush. In fact, after the trip Mrs. Sundin said; “You don’t have to take me on any more trips like that one honey; I’ll be okay remembering this experience.”

I’ll be closer to home this week, so I’ll try to keep tabs on whether or not cold temperatures help re-freeze slushy areas. Feel free to get in touch with your own reports though, helping keep our fellow anglers safe is a worthy cause, I think. fish smiley image - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to wired2fish Wired2Fish "Dial-in Your LCD Fish Finder Readout for Ice Fishing"

image links to video "Factors such as depth, cone angle, battery life, size of lure used and even variances from lake to lake can affect how well your sonar is reading. Luckily, today's electronics have powerful settings to help dial in the ideal target separation to find fish and see your bait with little interference.

Grant Prokop of Thousand Lakes Sporting Goods demonstrates how to adjust the gain setting on Humminbird's ICE HELIX 7 to get the desired signal return on different sized lures or when searching for fish.

Grant prefers a small signal on lures to get the best target separation possible between the lure and fish. This has the added benefit of eliminating clutter in the water column. When searching for fish, Grant increases the gain to identify fish at greater distances and depths." View Video To Learn More >> Dial-in Your LCD Fish Finder Readout for Ice Fishing

image denotes link to fish rapper article Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism January 15, 2019

image of walleye caught on lake of the woods On the south end, anglers continue to catch good numbers of both walleyes and saugers of all sizes.

Most fish are coming from water depths of 28 to 31 feet, with an early morning, late evening bite occuring shallower. Water depths of 15 to 22 feet along many shoreline areas are best for the prime time feeding runs.

Jigging one line, deadsticking with a second using with lively minnows is the best strategy. Gold, glow red, pink and glow colors have been consistent.

Some anglers using noise and flash to attract and catch fish, but don't overlook using a plain hook and minnow under bobber; this provides consistent results too. As always, electronics are very helpful because larger fish, like this 28 inch walleye that Helen caught while fishing out of Sportsman's Lodges are suspended.

Ice gaining inches, resort ice roads open to various size rigs. Snowmobile trails on lake staked from south shore up to NW angle.

On the Rainy River, be careful on river as heavier than normal current. Some areas good ice, some not good ice. Work through local resorts for safety. Morning and evening walleye action.

Up at the Northwest Angle, excellent fishing continues. Nice numbers of walleyes with saugers, perch, pike, tulibees and eelpout mixed in. Occasional trophy.

Snowmobile trails from south shore across lake to Angle are marked and are open. Most fish coming from 17-26'. Crappies being caught on Ontario side on wax worms and minnow heads in 30'. Work through resorts and stay on staked resort ice trails."  – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image denotes link to fish rapper article Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge January 15, 2019

"A daily switch, one day the dead stick catches the fish, the next day it’s the jig stick. Having two lines allows you to try both techniques. Some days it’s the noise making that calls them into the dead stick. Other days a plain hook and bobber is all that is needed.

We are out 8 miles about 30 feet of water. Action remains steady. Nice eaters and a lot of little ones. There are a number of big fish, once you get them to bite getting them through the hole becomes the challenge. Patients usually wins in those situations.

The beginning of the week will have highs in the mid-twenties. The rest of the week will be cooler with highs around 10 below.

Settlers Point has some great openings in February and March for groups of 10-18 people with unbeatable package prices. The facility is great for keeping the group together. 9 large bedrooms and 9 full bathrooms with all meals onsite. Some rooms have fireplaces and there are two great rooms with poker table and fireplaces.

We have some great deals going on in February and March and there are some spaces open, now is the time to call and book your winter trip!" - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge

image denotes link to fish rapper article Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Ice Fishing Report January 15, 2019

"Stream Trout - Stream trout fishing was excellent for many anglers this weekend. Flashy spoons, hair jigs and crappie tubes, accounted for the majority of trout caught. Lures tipped with waxies seemed to out produce salted minnows. Rainbows were found 10-15 feet under the ice. Brookies and Splake were caught around main lakes points, downed trees and large shallow flats.

Lake Trout - Laker fishing was slow for some, but good for others. Anglers fishing in 30-50 feet of water, around neck down areas and deep humps had the most action. Red and white tubes, Soturi Disco Tumbler and plain white tubes were the top baits.

Walleye - Interest in walleyes has fallen to the wayside with trout opener, but some walleye fishing did happen over the weekend. Anglers still fishing for them are reporting slow but steady action in the evening, then followed by a second wave coming in at about 8pm. Red glowing jigs, tipped with a shiner or rainbow has been the go to setup.

Pike - Nothing to report with pike as interest in them, has dropped.

Panfish - Panfish interest too has dropped to only a handful of anglers. They have reported the some large sunfish were biting in shallow weedbeds on small jigging raps, tipped with waxies." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image reader comments Reader Comments January 12, 2019 Big Pike Chasing Crappies

image of Carl Gaalaas with big pike Carl Gaalaas was on the ice, fishing for Crappies when he caught this large Northern Pike. Gaalaas says; "I was out fishing by noon and crappies were hungry this afternoon caught about 15 little ones. They were suspended about 12’ off the bottom in about 30 feet of water.

I really think that this fish was watching me toss those little crappies back and finally took a hit at my demon jig #6. Hopefully the weather pattern will settle a bit for a consistent bite.

Carl, thanks for the note and for the photo. You're probably right; whether that pike was watching the fish you released, or keeping his on the rest of the fish in the school below you, it was highly likely that he had a crappie dinner in mind.

Pike frequently follow and feed on schools of suspended crappies. In fact, on numerous occasions, we've watched pike on the underwater camera as they lurk on the the outskirts of a school of crappies. I remember seeing upwards of a dozen lurking pike on a small crappie lake in the Marcell area several years ago. Have a great weekend on the ice!

image denotes link to fish rapper article Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Trout Fishing Opener Ice Report January 11, 2019

"Ice was checked straight out from the access at each lake.

Slush was present at each lake, but it was clear that it is freezing and packed trail are nicely frozen solid.

High winds the last two days, seem to have helped blow some of the snow off, but this also means some areas will have a lot more snow. Particularly near the shoreline and around islands.

Miners Lake - Miners lake had 12” of good ice with only about 4” of snow in the area of the access. Slush was present, but was not very bad and may not be even be present by opener if temps stay cold and snow stays away. Parking area was plowed.

Hanson Lake - Hanson Lake has 13” of good ice. 3” of slush was present in the area of the access, it was not a issue. Snow wasn’t much of a issue either at about 6-8”. There was exposed ice in the middle of the lake. Parking lot was plowed.

Tofte Lake - Tofte Lake had 15” of ice. Slush was present and showed little signs of freezing in the area of the access. Snow was also deep in the area of the access, but I am sure the further from shore you get the thinner the snow will be. Access road and parking area was not plowed as of 1/10.

Glacier Pond One and Two - Parking area at the county brush dump is plowed, but there are no signs of any travel to the ponds and conditions are unknown.

Ojibway Lake - Ojibway lake access road is not plowed as of 1/10. Conditions are unknown

Snowbank Lake - Snowbank Lake had 15” of good ice. Slush was present here also, but snow was not deep. Slush showed signs of freezing, but 4” of water was below the frozen slush. Good news is anglers have been fishing out there with snowmobiles and there tracks were frozen solid. If temps stay cold snow stays away, conditions out there will improve and slush will become less of a concern out there. Parking area at the main access is plowed.

Burntside Lake - Burntside Lake is reported to have between 10-15” good ice. Slush is present in areas, but with the high winds earlier in the week, some of it has been exposed and frozen. Still areas around islands has some heavy drifting. As of 1/10 Van Vac access is only plowed to the top parking area.

No roads have been plowed for vehicle travel on any of the lakes, so snowmobiles will be the best form of travel on the ice." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report January 11, 2019 "A Day Without Sunshine Like Gold on Lake of the Woods"

image of walleye A day without sunshine is … worth its weight in gold!

I’ll bet that’s the way a lot of walleye fisherman view the world; in fact, most of the time, that’s the way I see it too. It’s especially true today as I compare the fishing action on Lake of the Woods last Wednesday, a sunny day, to the action we enjoyed on Thursday, a cloudy one.

We caught fish both days, but the difference in their behavior was dramatic. On Wednesday, fish that I observed on my Humminbird were lazy and slow; they’d look at my lure for several minutes before finally deciding to strike. On Thursday, those same fish, on that same reef took one look at my bait and … WHAM!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the action was fast and furious, or that I caught a fish every time I dropped my bait in the water. What I mean is that for several hours in the morning, whenever I marked a fish, they struck almost every single time. The lull that usually occurs during midday occurred on Thursday too, but the slowdown was brief, lasting only a couple of hours before the fish began moving in anticipation of the even feeding run.

Lake of the Woods fish are some of the most “depth sensitive” fish that I’ve encountered. So it’s important to note that the fish we caught were coming out of 25 to 26 feet of water; that seemed to be the sweet spot. I’ve heard from others that the range was a bit broader for them, more like 24 to 28 feet. Either way, it’s easy to check that entire range without having to drill too many holes.

I’ve been using Glow Spoons a lot this winter and over the past couple of days I caught a lot of fish on them again. But yesterday’s extended period of activity gave me time to pull out some of my other favorites lures too. I did really well on the Orange/Green Wally Talker and the Blue/Glow Quiver Spoon was killer bait too. The heads snipped off of frozen shiners is the only meat I added to any of the lures I fished with.

Admittedly, we’ve given ourselves an advantage by using snowmobiles to travel. Our ability to find spots far away from plowed roads and easy access makes finding aggressive fish easier. But I watched the guides in Flag Island’s fish cleaning shack last night and their guests were plenty busy yesterday too. I saw lots walleye, sauger and crappies being wrapped up for their fishing customers.

In the lodge, there was a standing room only crowd and like Wednesday, there were a lot of guests having their catch of the day cooked and served to them. Others were taking advantage of the Thursday ½ price burger special as well, what they all had in common is that they looked pretty darn happy.

The takeaway form today’s report is simple. The reports you’ve been hearing about Lake of the Woods are true; the fish are biting. Weather plays a role though, so if you’re here on a bright sunny day, plan on getting up early and staying out late, the primetime bite will be a godsend. If you need a little extra sleep, wait for a cloudy day when the window of activity is larger. fish smiley image - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishrapper home page January 11, 2019 - "Weighing In On Ice Fishing Line Options "

Alan Kirkpatrick wrote; “Hi Jeff! I have gotten the opportunity to use the Lindy Glow Spoons in both 1/8 and 1/4 ounce sizes and in a few different colors. (I’ve had) some fairly good results on the Walleye at both Red Lake and Lake of the Woods so far this winter.

My question for you is with the mono (line) I use; do you recommend a direct tie on, use of a swivel, or both ways? If you could chime in on this I would surely appreciate it. Thank You! Alan
Alan, in most cases, I think a small, #10 swivel tied about 18 inches above the lure is a good idea. My friend Jon Thelen fishes with mono line too, but always uses one on his rigs both winter and summer.  I also use mono line and for me, tying direct usually works just fine.

When I was out at Devils Lake a couple of weeks ago, a friend chastised me for not joining the 21st century and switching over to braided line. Admittedly, the braid is more sensitive, but the added sensitivity comes at a price, especially if like me, you prefer fishing out in the open, on the ice.

For my buddy out west, using braid is no problem because they always fish out of the door of their vehicle or in a shelter, nothing freezes up. For me though, braided line holds too much water and freezes too fast, that slows my fishing down too much.

If I did use braid, then I would definitely add the swivel and I’d use an 18 inch clear fluorocarbon leader too.

I don’t think I need fluorocarbon these days because the line I use, Gamma’s Copolymer ice line is really clear already. By the way, Gamma’s Copolymer is a very nice, very supple and if you haven’t tried it, it might be a good time to experiment.

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report January 10, 2019 "A Great Mediocre Day On Lake of the Woods"

image of walleye at ice hole Lake of the Woods treated us to what my fishing partner called “a great mediocre day” on Wednesday.

On the ice, travel conditions are pretty good; plowed roads are wide, smooth and fast. Snowmobile trails were okay, but they weren’t smooth; Tuesday’s wind formed a lot of snow drifts, so we had to take it easy.

The winds had subsided by Wednesday morning and became calmer throughout the day. So while the 3 degree air temperature still felt cold, it was manageable at least.

Slush problems are minimal up here and that’s the big blessing. I’d much rather travel at 20 MPH knowing that I won’t get my machine stuck, than to be moving faster, but living in fear of bogging down into the slush yard. The long snowmobile ride ended safely at a spot where we’d had some fun in the past.

Setting up on a submerged reef, we tried 3 or 4 locations before getting comfortable. I marked some fish at 30 feet, but the only fish that ever struck was a Tulibee. The move shallower to 27 feet did produce some fish, but they were run of the mill 12 to 13 inches; not what we were looking for. One more move, shallow again and at 25 feet, the fish sighting became more frequent and the average size was better.

I wouldn’t call the action fast, but every half hour or so, one of us would pick up a fish. The size was all over the map, the largest fish we caught was about 25 inches, the smallest about 10 inches. If we had chosen to keep all of them, fish in the 16 to 17 inch range would have given us a legal bag limit. As it A

We experimented with several lures and caught some fish on most everything we used. By the end of the day though, the observation was that larger baits worked better than smaller ones. The ¼ ounce Glow Spoon came out on top because of its ability to call fish in from a distance.

At the end of the day, the word around camp from other anglers was similar. Everybody was catching fish, but there weren’t many reports of stellar action. Many of the groups were in the lodge having their day’s catch prepared for dinner, so that tells me that they were confident that they’d catch more today.

If you add it all up, it was a darn good day, we travelled safely, nothing broke, and we caught enough fish to be satisfied. It was “a great mediocre day!”

image denotes link to fish rapper article On Lake Winnibigoshish Dixon Lake Resort January 10, 2019

"The Third River of Winnie is looking pretty good. We did not got the extra snow they were talking about. Did get a warm up that put a nice crust on the snow we already have. There is about 8 inches of snow on the ice with higher drifts here and there.

Ice is at 20 to 22 inches. Have had quite a few wheel houses out. Todd has nice roads plowed down to the clay banks and in that direction the wind sweeps it clean. Some folks are still 4 wheeling out to the pressure ridge area. Is some shush up close to shore and a few other areas so watch for that.

The water has cleared up down at the banks area, though cloudy you can see the bottom and the fish moving through. Gotten some nice northern, a few perch and a few crappies they have been slow for a week or so." Dixon Lake Resort has shelter rentals, including sleepers. Reservations 218-659-4612

image denotes link to fish rapper article From Bowstring Lake, Darv Oehlke, Bowstring Shores Resort January 10, 2019

"The bite has slowed. Both crappies and perch. Northerns not so much. Travel on the lake is ok. I have seen guys drive trucks across the lake today. But you have to drive. I do have roads plowed and access on the lake." - Darv Oehlke, Bowstring Shores Resort. 218-832-3101

image links to fishrapper home page January 9, 2019 - "Ice Fishing Rod Case Recommendation?"

image of ice fishing rod case Grant Beatty wrote; Q) “Hey Jeff, I’m getting ready for a fishing trip up on the Minnesota/Canada Border. We’re planning to do quite a bit travel by snowmobile and I need to pick up a good rod case. I remember you mentioned picking one up earlier this winter, but don’t remember which one it was. How about giving us an update, it working out for you and would you buy the same one again or suggest something else?”

A) Grant, the rod case that you’re referring to is from Ice Fishing Innovations and I wrote the original report about it back on December 10, 2018. Since then, that rod case has traveled with me to lake of the Woods, Upper Red Lake, Devils Lake, Kabetogama and a half dozen smaller, local lakes.

Every time I’ve opened the cover, my rods have been resting safely, nestled in the exact spots that I place them before I’ve begun travelling. I haven’t had a tangled line, there haven’t been any snagged lures inside and most importantly, nothing has been broken! My tackle has been organized and easy to reach as well.

One feature that I’ve really come to love is how easy the latches open and close; they are absolutely sooth and effortless to use. The importance of that feature wasn’t obvious to me in the beginning, but it is now. It’s amazing how much easier life is when you want to make a quick lure change or trade one fishing rod for another and the box opens and closes easily.

As it happens, my friend Jon Thelen and I have a snowmobile fishing trip planned for the near future too. After seeing my rod case in action, Jon decided that he really needed one for the upcoming trip.

In my opinion, you’ll be equally impressed with the Ice Fishing Innovations rod case. The fit and finish is excellent and it is built solid as a rock, it’s the perfect case for the trip you have in mind. Let's not forget that you'll be supporting a local business run by a fellow ice fisherman too; that means something to me. For More Information Go To >> Ice Fishing Innovations

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report January 9, 2019 "Ice Fishing Update"

Slush remains a problem for anglers who want to fish on the majority of small to medium size north lakes in north central Minnesota. While slushy areas did start cropping up on some of the big water lakes too, these remain a better bet for anybody heading toward the ice this weekend.

Better access to wind helped blow snow off of the surface of larger lakes before the January Thaw. That was apparently enough to minimize flooding in open areas. Smaller waters, protected from the wind weren’t so lucky, deeper snow became more severely flooded, making travel difficult.

At Northern Acres Resort on Bowstring Lake, Dave says; “Bowstring’s northwest access is horrible; better stick with snowmobiles.”

On Cutfoot Sioux, Bryan Harris at Eagle Nest Lodge draws a distinction between Big Winnie and Cutfoot saying; “Cutfoot has a bunch of slush and only has about 10" of ice under the snow and slush.  I think there's more ice in McAvity Bay and, of course, there are no roads up here.  Several resorts on Winnie have been plowing roads and they have decent ice out there.”

Pat O'Reilly, Northland Lodge added; “Roads out of High Banks Resort are great! Travel off road is tough though and Tamarack Bay has a lot of open slush, be careful out there!”

Over on Leech Lake, Tim from Spirit of the North Resort said this; “Ice is great on Leech Lake! Hopefully we will not be getting any more snow for a while!

Be careful around ice heaves, with the snow’s weight there is some flooding around them! Over all it is wonderful out there! Pine point and Trappers Landing both have great plowed roads. Come enjoy Leech Lake with us.”

Further north, we arrived at Lake of the Woods yesterday afternoon. The conditions that greeted us were harsh; the wind was blowing at about 20 MPH and the air temperature was 12 degrees.
That was a bit of shock to my system after preparing for the trip in the 35 degree weather at Grand Rapids. That said the colder temperatures have apparently been an advantage up here. Travel conditions on the lake are reported to be good. The plowed roads are in excellent condition and slush on the ice is minimal, off road travel for snowmobiles is smooth sailing, we’re told.

I’ll know a lot more about that later, after we spend the day fishing, watch for an update tomorrow.

image links to fishrapper home page January 9, 2019 - "Gearing Up To Fish Bowstring Lake"

image of Lindy Frostee Jig Darin Chambers wrote; “Jeff, some friends and I are coming up to bowstring at the end of the month fishing.
I’m just checking to see if there are any “must haves” in our tackle box, lures that you would recommend.  We already have Frostee spoons, lindy glow spoons and teardrops jigs. 

We will be fishing for mostly crappie and perch (I hear that bowstring is a tuff walleye lake in the winter) and hopefully a few northern.  Thanks for the time and any input would be greatly appreciated.”

A) Darin, you’re already off to a good start. The #4 Frostee is one lure I would never be without on Bowstring, in fact I was just on Bowstring last week and in this photo, you’ll see the Frostee I was using at the time. By the way, its cousin, the Frostee Jigging Spoon is also a good choice and so is the Lindy Quiver Spoon the spoons and blade type baits cover your bases when fish are feeding on minnows.

On Bowstring, you’ll catch a lot of fish over soft bottom areas that contain marl. Many times fish in these areas will be feeding on small bloodworms. Situations like these often call for smaller lures with smaller hooks that can be covered with a single wax worm or spike.

Tungsten is the way to go for fish when they’re feeding on bloodworms or other small insects. I like Lindy’s Tungsten Bug and Tungsten Toad in these circumstances. For perch, colors like orange/black and green/black are suited well. For crappies, the yellow/pink, red/glow and blue/glow are my favorites, but throw in a couple of your own favorites too.

Keep an eye on the reports over the next couple weeks, Bowstring comes up fairly often and that will help you dial in patterns that are working closer to your arrival. Don’t worry too much about being fully stocked up before you get here either, all of these baits are readily available at the local shops near Bowstring.

Good Luck on your trip! fish smiley image - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image denotes link to fish rapper article Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge January 8, 2019

image of women with big walleye "Great start to 2019! We are at least 8 miles past Pine Island and continue to be on the move. This past week had some great action, with plenty of big Walleye and nice keepers. Of course, nothing beats a fresh Walleye dinner or appetizer.

An active jig stick and a strong minnow on the dead stick has been very productive. The Drop Shots continue to do well on the dead stick and Rippin Rap is a good active jig weapon.

Another roller coaster forecast for this week, we will have to wait and see what actually happens.

Settlers Point has some great openings in February and March for groups of 10-18 people with unbeatable package prices. The facility is great for keeping the group together. 9 large bedrooms and 9 full bathrooms with all meals onsite. Some rooms have fireplaces and there are two great rooms with poker table and fireplaces.

We have some great deals going on in February and March and there are some spaces open, now is the time to call and book your winter trip!" - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge

image denotes link to fish rapper article Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism January 8, 2019

image of rick rone and joe henry with big walleye "On the main basin, walleyes and saugers being caught in depths from 19 to 31 feet. Most anglers are fishing 27 feet or deeper.

Jigging one line, deadstick second with lively minnow, keep jigging line moving. Plain hook and minnow under bobbers was a good presentation this week. Morning/evening bite in 13-18'. Electronics very helpful with some larger fish suspended.

Gold, pink, glow colors, and blue hot colors. Some big pike 40+ inches this week. Ice ranges from 14-20" where resorts are fishing. Resort ice roads open to various size rigs. Snowmobile trails on lake staked from south shore up to NW angle.

On the Rainy River, stretches of the river and bay ice unsafe with heavier than normal current. Work through local resorts for safety. Morning/evening walleye action in Four Mile Bay.

Up at the Northwaest Angle fishing is excellent. Nice numbers of walleyes coming through with an occasional trophy. Sauger, perch, pike, tulibees and eelpout mixed in too. Most fish coming from 18 to 26 feet of water. On the Ontario side, there are some crappies being caught as well.

The snowmobile trails from the south shore across the lake up to the northwest angle are marked and are open. Work through resorts and stay on staked resort ice trails."  – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image denotes link to fish rapper article Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Ice Fishing Report January 8, 2019

"Lake Trout - Lake trout fishing in the BWCA has been excellent. Lakers are being found anywhere between 30-80 feet of water. Blade baits, tubes and dead smelt laying on the bottom, we’re the top baits over the last week. Deep humps, main lake points and deep water near shallow bays were the places to fish.

Stream Trout - Stream trout fishing inside the BWCA was also good for many anglers. Flashy spoons fished in 15 feet of water or less, near weedbeds or downed trees proved effective for many anglers. Waxies, salted minnows or salmon eggs have been effective on trout.

Panfish - Crappie fishing remains consistent for many anglers, but slush is starting to limit their ability to move and stay on fish. Crappie remain deep in 24-30 feet of water. To locate fish, anglers need to punch holes until fish are marked. Fish have been easy to catch after found, but will often move after a few have been caught. Anglers able to keep moving with the fish have been reporting the best catches. Waxies have been the best bait as of late. Chartreuse, Pink and Red are excellent colors for jigs.

Walleye - Interest in walleye’s has fallen this last week as many anglers switched to trout or have had slush become a issue in the area they were fishing. Still some anglers are going out and finding walleyes in 20-30 feet of water. Best time remains during that last hour of light and late into the night. Shiners or rainbows have been catching the majority to walleyes. Jigging minnows and spoons have been working on active aggressive fish.

Pike - Pike fishing has remained good to excellent for many anglers, but again slush has made fishing some spots a challenge. Heavy suckers or Alewife’s remain the bait to have if you want a big pike. Lite suckers and smelt result in better numbers, but smaller fish. Shallow bays and weedbeds are the area to target for pike." — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report January 7, 2019 "A Perchy Pattern For Crappie"

image of crappies on screen of ice helix 7 I’ve had a chance to get some crappie fishing under my belt over the past several days and its felt good. As much as I like walleyes and walleye fishing, I spend so much time in hot pursuit during my guiding season that it’s nice to have an occasional break during my off season.

Whenever I’ve located fish, I’ve been able to catch them, but only on their terms. Some parts of some days have definitely been better than others and there’s no rhyme or reason to the timing their pattern.

On Thursday, I found my first school of fish at 9:30 AM and caught a half dozen in just a few minutes. After that, the school went dormant, they didn’t move, but they just stopped feeding. I moved a little further up the line, found another school of fish, caught and released a couple, but then struggled to get another strike. After more exploration, I decided that it was gonna be a long day, I’d seen more fish, but they had lockjaw; until high noon.

That’s right, for whatever reason, the fish decided that the best time to feed was smack dab in the middle of the day. For about a half hour, I moved back and forth between several spots I’d found, caught a fish or two at each of them and then they quit again; until 2:30 PM.

That’s right, for whatever reason, the fish decided that the next best time to feed was mid-afternoon, well before prime time. Look at the photo of my Humminbird and notice the time that nice looking school of crappies began to feed aggressively. They acted like it was prime time and I moved back and forth between several spots I’d found, catching a fish or two at each one of them until they quit again; this time forever.

That’s right, for whatever reason, the fish decided that they didn’t need to feed during prime time. The period from 3:30 to 4:30 PM featured a screen filled with baitfish and small schools of crappies moving through at random intervals, but not a biter in the bunch.

image of crappie feeding on perch minnowsMy best guess is that the crappie’s erratic behavior had something to do with the baitfish that they were feeding on. Gigantic schools of perch minnows moved in and out of range throughout the day and when they did, crappies took after them with a vengeance. Look close at the photo and you’ll see that this crappie had a rather large perch minnow in its throat. It was not uncommon for some of those fish to cough up 2 or 3 perch while I unhooked them.

When crappies are feeding on minnows, their behavior is a lot more nomadic than it is when they find insect hatches. Insects have a much harder time moving away from predators than minnows do. So crappies, most panfish for that matter tend to stay put for longer periods of time when they’re feeding on insects.

The takeaway from this report out to be that if the fish are feeding on minnows and you know it, then you should be prepared to fish all day long. You should expect to have short spurts of action, followed by lulls when you and the baitfish lose track of each other.

Every lake is different, but depth trends from one lake to another can be very similar. Where I was fishing, the maximum depth is about 28 feet and my key depth was 23.5 feet of water. The fish were relatively far away from the deepest holes, relating close to the lakes breakline.

Let’s say that the maximum depth on your lake is 35 feet deep and there are fish feeding primarily on minnows, then you might expect a similar trend. Try fishing away from the deepest holes, tighter to the breaklines, that’s where it’s easier for fish push schools into corners and trap them there. fish smiley image - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to trails end resort Bowstring Lake, Geiger's Trails End Resort January 7, 2019

"Anglers visiting Bowstring Lake over the past few days enjoyed reasonably good travel conditions. The ice is about 16 inches thick now and we’ve been able to make some progress with the roads. Bill has been opening up longer stretches of passable territory and they lead in a wider variety of directions.

Caution is advised, there are patches of slush, some of them large, including a few areas where water creeps across our roads. There have been some pickup trucks on the ice, but so far we’ve discouraged anglers with big rigs towing wheel houses. The cold snap that’s predicted for this week should help push the ice into more favorable condition for larger rigs.

According to reports from visitors, it sounds like travel conditions on Bowstring are still better than they are on many of the smaller lakes in our area. There have been folks on the ice using snowmobiles and ATV’s are getting around with few problems.

Crappie fishing has been good, but spotty. It’s not that hard to find a school of fish, they show up on our electronics throughout the day. Feeding patterns have been odd, they bite whenever they want, sometimes right in the middle of the day.

Perch have been active at times too, sometimes moving through the same areas with crappies, but most times they have been more isolated.

Key depths are 23 to 26 feet for both perch and crappie. Walleyes when we find them, are located shallower, 12 to 18 feet has been  a more reliable range for them.

We're watching the weather today, snow that was forecast to fall in the region overnight hasn't hit yet. What we are experiencing right now is some freezing rain and drizzle. We'll try to post an update later, once we see how much precipition rolls into the area today." - Bill & Erin Charlton, Trails End Resort

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report January 3, 2019 "Lake Winnibigoshish Ice Access Map"

image of lake winnie map "On January 2, 2019, while answering a reader question about ice fishing locations on Lake Winnie, I promised an update about lake accesses and travel conditions. The accompanying map, along with numbered descriptions should give anglers a fairly good idea about where they can go and where they can't go this weekend.

The word from resort owners and rental operators around the lake is that every road onto the lake is either already open, or will be open this weekend. Travel conditions on the plowed roads are generally good, but I'll reiterate yesterday’s comments about off road travel on the big lake.

Snow on Lake Winnie's ice is hard packed and ranges in depth between 12 to 15 inches. There are areas of slush under the snow, particularly in areas where anglers have drilled holes for fishing. If you’re depending on a pickup truck for travel, stay on plowed roads and/or well travel user developed pathways. If you’re travelling by snowmobile or ATV, steer clear of ..." Learn More >> Lake Winnibigoshish Ice Access Map January 3, 2019

image links to fishing guide jeff sundin Jeff Sundin Fishing Report January 2, 2019 "It's O-Fish-All, The New Year Has Begun!"

image of the Hippie Chick with big CrappieI and The Hippie Chick rang the New Year in right on Tuesday. We spent the afternoon on one of Grand Rapids’ smaller lakes, catching crappies while a stunning sunset shone through the window of my portable ice fishing shelter.

This was the first time I’d been on the lake since the snowfall that arrived early Monday morning and wasn't sure what to expect. There's about 2-3 inches of fresh snow on top of the 10-12 inches that had already fallen late last week. Since I wasn’t sure what travel conditions would be like, I loaded the snowmobile and fully expected to use it.

When we arrived at the lake, I was surprised; there was already a user developed, plowed road that led most of the way to a reasonably good fishing area. There were half dozen pickup trucks on the ice, along with a dozen or more un-occupied permanent shelters. Obviously folks had been taking advantage of their holiday time way from work.

The air temperature was - 3 degrees and looking at that plowed road gave me ideas. It was a lot warmer inside the truck than it was outside, so I decided to drive out, save some loading/unloading time and be comfortable.

While we may have been warmer by driving onto the lake, saving time was the last thing I did. Driving fairly close to a fishing spot wasn’t a problem, but figuring out where to turn the truck around was. By itself, the snow was deep enough to cause trouble diving. But the hard packed berm created by the snow plow added another layer of complication and I came very close to high centering the truck on it.

Luckily, we made the turn and got situated, but I was nervous doing it. But then we still had to drag the portable shelter across that same berm and then through a foot of snow to get set it up. Behind the snowmobile, my portable is actually portable, but draggng it through deep snow by hand, that’s not as much fun.

image of jeff and susan with big crappieLong story short, if I was doing the same trip again today, I would save myslef some trouble and definitely use the snowmobile instead.

By the time we got set up, it was close to 3:00 PM and panfish were already on the move. In fact Susan had a nice crappie to her hole before I had even wet a line; it looked like we were really getting into a bonanza! In a way, we did, there was always a fish or two on our screens and they were fairly aggressive, something bit every few minutes. But we had to work a little to trigger each strike, nothing came super easy.

We experimented with lures, colors and sizes and I’m not sure if there was an “O-Fish-All” best one. We picked up some fish using the smallest size Tungsten Bug, we caught others on a #6 Pink/Glow Tungsten Fat Boy and by days end we were both using the larger, #4 size Frostee Jigs.

For bait, we only used wax worms and didn’t try minnows or artificial tails; the waxies were handy and they worked.

I can’t remember the last time I passed up a chance to photograph a stunning sunset, but on Tuesday I did. As you can see by the photos, there was a warm glow shining into the portable. It was gorgeous all afternoon and the later it got, the prettier it was. But between the fish biting, the warmth of the heater and the company I was keeping, I was more content staying inside this time. Next time, I’ll brave the elements and walk back outside for the sunset, especially if the temperature is above zero.

Now that the holidays have passed, there’s more ice time on my schedule again. In fact I’ll probably be fishing most every day this week and the Hippie Chick was inkling clues about wanting to fish again next weekend too. As always, fresh reports will be posted often so that you can be in the loop. fish smiley image - Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

image links to fishrapper home page January 2, 2019 - "Ice Fishing Pointers For Lake Winnibigoshish?"

Eric Haken Emailed; Q) “Hi Jeff, I am a deputy sheriff here in Windom, MN and my dad is the retired sheriff.  I got him hooked on ice fishing and am taking him up to Winnie sometime next week. He's never really gotten into a good walleye bite or crappie. 
I will be pulling a 26 foot Ice Castle up there and I am not familiar with the lake at all. So I’m just looking for a point in the right direction to try and get him on some fish.
I have all the electronics including the new Garmin Panoptix and I am not looking for a guided trip, just wondering if you can point me in the right direction?

A) Greetings Eric, Generally speaking, you're headed in the right direction for both Walleye and Crappie. Unfortunately, it's doubtful that you will find both species in the same place, at the same time.

Walleye fishing on Winnibigoshish is typically very good during early January and most of the better fishing will be found out on the "main lake". Deep water structures like humps and bars produce good action during the early morning and again at sunset. I look for inside corners, tips of points and gently sloping breaklines where structures with sand or gravel taper down into the deeper, soft bottom basin. Key depths range between 24 and 30 feet, more often than not, I settle in somewhere around 26 feet of water.

Jigging lures like Lindy's Rattl'n Flyer, Quiver Spoon and Glow Spoons are all good choices. Rig one rod for jigging and tip the treble hook with a minnow head; work these baits steadily. Rigging a dead stick is a good idea too, the size #2 Frosty Jig tipped with a whole, live minnow will give neutral and negative fish a longer time to decide whether to strike. Fish that don't strike your jigging spoon will often grab the 'dead stick" instead.

Crappies can be caught on Winnie, but typically won't be found mixed with the walleyes. They are sometimes caught in the shallow water flowages on the lake’s fringes. This may force you to decide whether walleye fishing is more important than crappie fishing and vice versa.

You could abandon the mid-lake walleye structure on Winnie and set up over deeper water in Cutfoot Sioux. Or you could set up in shallow water near Third River where you may well find a mix of perch, pike and panfish, but catching significant numbers of walleye is unlikely.

Having all of that equipment is a blessing, but at the same time, it’s a hindrance. The problem you’ll run into is accessing good fishing spots with your Ice Castle. While there are several rental operators that provide really nice plowed roads onto Winnie, there are few, if any providing road service on Cutfoot Sioux. With a foot of snow on the ice, I would advise against going “off road” with your wheel house.

In my opinion, your best bet would be to focus on the big lake and make it a walleye, perch and pike weekend. That way you’ll have a better chance at keeping yourselves busy and you’ll only have to find one or two spots to park that wheel house.

A few years back, I published a map of access points on Winnibigoshish and today, I’ll dust it off, make some updates and add it to the report. Check back again for a re-vitalized version of that map, it will be helpful for you this weekend.

image denotes link to fish rapper article Lake of the Woods, LOW Tourism January 1, 2019

image of woman with big walleye "On the main basin, there are good numbers of walleyes and saugers being caught of all sizes.

Most anglers focused in 25-31' of water, but during the morning and evenings, there is a shallow water bite in 13-18 feet of water too. Jig one line, deadstick the second. Gold, glow red, yellow and orange hot colors. Electronics very helpful, especially with some of the larger fish being suspended.

Every resort ice road is different but pickups and wheel houses of varying sizes allowed on various ice roads. Ice ranges from 12-20" where resorts are fishing. Snowmobile trails on lake staked from south shore up to NW angle. Please stay on marked trails, don't go off on your own and exercise safety precautions as ice conditions vary.

On the Rainy River, stretches of the river and bay ice unsafe with heavier than normal current. Some walleye action in Four Mile Bay early and late in day. Most river fishing currently being done by locals who know ice.

Up at the Northwest Angle, the ice road is open from Young's Bay to Flag Island, but no further as of yet. Snowmobile trails from south shore across lake to Angle are marked and are open. Stay on trail for safety!

Excellent fishing with good numbers of walleyes being caught. Most fish coming from 18-24'. Crappies being caught on Ontario side. Work through resorts and stay on staked resort ice trails."  – Lake of the Woods Tourism, (800) 382-FISH

image denotes link to fish rapper article Lake of the Woods, Border View Lodge January 1, 2019

"We continue our trek North to deeper water. We are around the 31 feet mark which seems early in the season to be this deep. We have had many great catches this past week. Even the girls from down under in Australia got in some ice fishing action!

Of course, the gold and glow red are important, but mostly something that glows regardless of color. An active jigging rig is important.

This weeks forecast looks like a roller coaster, lows to -20 and highs at 34. We will have to wait and see what actually happens.

Settlers Point has some great openings in February and March for groups of 10-18 people with unbeatable package prices. The facility is great for keeping the group together. 9 large bedrooms and 9 full bathrooms with all meals onsite. Some rooms have fireplaces and there are two great rooms with poker table and fireplaces.

We have some great deals going on in February and March and there are some spaces open, now is the time to call and book your winter trip!" - 1-800-776-3474 Border View Lodge

Fish ED January 1, 2019 "Catching Walleyes During The Dog Days Of Winter"

image links to crappie fishing videoHere's the thing, even during these cold fronts, even in these " Dog Days" of winter, walleyes still have to eat.
Catching fish consistently is just a question of adapting to what a fish really wants and figuring out what you need to do to trigger a strike.
During mid-winter, you sometimes have to get a little bit more subtle and play the game the walleye's way. Find out what he's comfortable with and match your presentation to his mood.
Don't let the dog days of winter keep you off the ice! This week on Fish Ed, host Jon Thelen shows you how to still put tons of walleye on the ice, even when conditions are brutal.
Watch as Jon explains the adaptations you need to make to keep putting good walleyes, and big walleyes on the ice. View Video >> Catching Walleyes During The Dog Days Of Winter

image denotes link to fish rapper article Ely Area, Arrowhead Outdoors Ice Fishing Report January 1, 2019

"Panfish - Crappies and Sunfish fishing has remained good to excellent for many anglers this last week. Crappies are being found in 25-35 feet of water and are hitting tear drop jigs, tipped with wax worms or small soft plastic. Pink glow, Chartreuse glow and Red glowing jig are working best.
Some sunfish are found mixed in with the crappies, but have generally been located in 20 feet or less. Sunfish too are preferring waxies the most, but small soft plastic baits are catching their fair share of fish too.
Both fish have been biting best during the day with some lakes having the bite shutdown by noon.

Walleye - Walleye bite has slowed some for many anglers the last week, but some good fish are still being caught. The best time remains that last hour of light, but a second wave of biters moves back in around 8pm. Rainbows and shiners under a bobber and/or a jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head and actively jigged has been working best. Red glowing baits remain the best glow color at night. 20-30 feet of water, main lake points and around sunken islands have been best.

Pike - Pike fishing has ranged from “OK” to excellent. Live heavy suckers have been getting the most hits, but more often then not, a simple Alewife under a tip-up, has resulted in the biggest fish for the day. Shallow bays, with weeds, has been best.

Lake Trout - Heavy snow just before lake trout opener in the BWCA made many people think twice about going out and many just stayed home. Reports are very limited, but for the truly hardest core laker anglers that went out, only found ok fishing. Dead smelt on the bottom in neck down areas, worked best.

Hope you have a happy New Year! Steven Renneberg" — Arrowhead Outdoors, 218-365-5358