Fishrapper Archives: Ice Fishing Reports For March 2016


image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Northwest Sportshow Report April 4, 2016 - Spring Springing?

Driving home across US Highway 2 this morning was like taking a trip backwards in time.
Greeting snowplows on icy roads with a temperature of 20°, made it hard to hang onto the notion that spring had sprung.
After spending most of the past week in Twin Cities looking at green grass and flowers blooming, my enthusiasm for getting home and taking my new boat out on the water was growing. Unfortunately, the availability of open water in Minnesota’s Northern region hasn’t kept pace.
Another snowstorm forecast for tomorrow means that I'm liable to spend most of this week stretching my imagination, searching to figure out ways to help you hold your enthusiasm about the upcoming fishing season.
After I get caught up on chores and clear up this stack of paperwork I left behind, I’ll get out and take a look at the lakes to see what condition they’re in.

image of snowplow on US Hwy 2 on April 4th
Greeting snowplows on icy roads with a temperature of 20°, made it hard to hang onto the notion that spring had sprung.

 

 

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Northwest Sportshow Report April 3, 2016 - "Schumacher; Passing The Torch of Tourism"

I think it’s fair to say that nearly every visitor to the northwest sport show, who’s ever looked into visiting Grand Rapids, were familiar with Wayne and Diana Schumacher.
The Schumacher’s, passionate advocates for tourism in the greater Grand Rapids Minnesota area, began travelling together as volunteers for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. Believing that it was important to broaden the scope of their efforts, the couple formed their own volunteer organization; “Grand Rapids & Deer River Area Tourism”.
Before Wayne’s passing in 2011, the Schumacher’s distributed upwards of a million information packets to folks interested in visiting the greater Grand Rapids area. And guess what, they did it all on their own dime, as volunteers.
Even after Wayne’s passing, Dianna’s commitment for promoting tourism continued and she’s been staffing the booth alone, until now.
After more than three decades, Dianna has decided to pass the torch; handing it over to the Deer River Chamber of Commerce. Today will be her last official day of duty as the highest ranking authority on Grand Rapids - Deer River Area Tourism.
If you’re here at the show, be sure to stop by booth number 737 and wish her well. Ya’ never know, if you hurry, you may get there before she runs out of cookies!

image of Dianna Schumacher at the northwest sportshow

image of kids gathered around the gamma fishing line booth

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Northwest Sportshow Report April 2, 2016 - "Something Fishy In Minneapolis"

You may not have thought of it of it, but this is one time of the year when there are experts from all over the Midwest, collectively, they know almost everything there is to know about fishing. That means there's no better time to get your list whole of fishing questions answered before you head into the store to get stocked up for the open water fishing season.
Besides that there are lodges, campgrounds, vacation destinations, boats, ATVs, gizmos, gadgets and contrivances; there's something for everybody who wants to go anywhere or do anything.
You already know that I'm here too, so if you're going to be out and about today, then do me a favor and swing in to the Minneapolis Convention Center. Pay us a visit in the Lindy Booth #835 and we can chat about the upcoming fishing season, rigging your boat, tips and tactics that will make your fishing more productive.
At 11:00 AM you can check out Jon Thelen's seminar about "Alternative Walleye Tactics" and get more inside information about how to catch more fish this summer; maybe we'll even give you a free gift.
OH, and by the way, if you do by we'll even explain why Steve Kusske has that big grin on his face!

image of Steve Kusske with Lindy Wally Demon Crankbaits

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Northwest Sportshow Report April 1, 2016 - "From The Show Floor In Minneapolis"

The CUTCO fillet knife that I'm using these days was gifted to me by good friends a few years back. I can remember them worrying that I wouldn't like it, but honestly, this has turned out to be hands down, the best fillet knife that I've ever used.
Throughout the summer, I get numerous requests from fishing customers about where they can buy a fillet knife like the one I use. I've told them that they have to find a CUTCO rep and some of them have struggled trying to find one in their neighborhood.

image links to Crank Canvas
I'm sure that some of you do already know a CUTCO representative; maybe you even have one in your family, that's great. But for anybody who's ready to choose the best fillet knife that you've ever owned, and need to know where to buy it, then pay me a visit at the sport show this weekend and I'll introduce you to Jill Sieben.
I realized yesterday that I needed to do favor and mention this lady because I see her working her tail off every season at sport shows I visit. It's a lot of work, and as long as she's here, and as long as you need a knife, well, you get the idea.
Oh, by the way, just in case you can't get down to the show, you can still get in touch with Jill by clicking this link to >> CUTCO Cutlery Jill Sieben.

Sometimes I stumble into people that make me feel like writing a story just for the fun of it. That's what happened on Thursday when I ran in the Captain Dan Fox.
During a conversation about who I was and what I do, Captain Dan said; “Well when you write your report tomorrow, be sure to mention that you ran into the world's best charter fishing captain for salmon on Lake Michigan”.
When someone makes a statement like that, you have to keep asking questions, so I did.
It turns out that Captain Dan Fox has been chartering on Lake Michigan for 40 years; that's 10 years longer than I've been at it. That's a lot of experience, and I know what that experience is worth to customers.
I asked a few folks who know Dan and by all accounts he works every bit as hard as I do and he’s really good at it.

image of captain dan fox

After spending another quarter hour chatting with Dan, I have to say that whether he is the world's best charter captain or not, there's no doubt in my mind that he's definitely qualified to do a fantastic job.
So if you're in the market for a Salmon fishing trip on Lake Michigan and you want to go with a seasoned professional. The 40 year veteran, Dan Fox should get the nod.
Oh and by the way, I saw a fish that he caught them smoke after he delivered it to a friend of mine and I have to say that fish looked awful tasty if he's as good at catching him if he is can cook and then I think you've got a winner on your hands. I'll introduce you to Dan at the show, or you can get more information here. >> Captain Dan Fox, Foxy Lady Charters

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Northwest Sportshow Report March 31, 2016 - " Showing The Showable"

The first day of the northwest sport show was fairly quiet and subdued. That gave me a little time to walk the show floor snooping around for interesting gadgets and fresh ideas.
One item on my wish list was to locate some good storage containers to house my supply of Lindy's new lineup of crankbaits. I found out that the folks at Crank Canvas were thinking about that too and they’ve done their best to make that job easier for all of us.

image links to Crank Canvas

They've developed an interesting array of simple but effective storage packaging for crankbaits that allows anglers to put multiple lures into a small roll-able package. Once you roll up the Crank Canvas, it can be neatly tucked away inside of just about any storage space in your boat.
For me, the days of sifting through piles of plastic boxes only to find a hodge-podge of tangled lures appear to be over. If you happen to be visiting the show, I’ll walk you over and introduce you.
More big news at the show this year is the improvements of electronics and the development of new charting and mapping technologies.
As much as I'd like to claim being an expert on all of them, I simply cannot keep up. So the best I can do right now is tell you that all of the major players have developed tweaks to existing products  and have introduced new product lineups too.
For Midwestern anglers who have become accustomed to choosing between Blue or Yellow logos on our electronics, it's apparent that other major players in the industry have intentions to change the number of choices.
I'll do my best over the next couple of days to highlight some of the more interesting developments and bring that to you later, after I’ve had ample time to study.
I'll be at the Lindy fishing tackle booth for most of every day between now and the show close on Sunday. So why don't you stop by and chat with me about those new crankbaits I mentioned, along with the new 1 inch Li’l Guys that we have on display. This new little lure will be a game changer for Walleye fishermen on Midwestern lakes this summer.
While you’re here, we can talk about the upcoming fishing season or you can show off photos from your ice season too.
Oh and by the way, if you were teased by comments about my new boat a couple of weeks ago, but you haven't had a chance to see it, this would be an excellent time to let me walk you down to the Lund boat both; you can take a peek at it there.

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 25, 2016 - Rainy River: Water Levels Fall, Temperatures Rise, Walleye Prepare For The Party

Following the tidbits of news that flow over "Social Media" pages, I can't help but notice that there are more than a few  folks tripping over each other to be the first ones to deliver "new, news" about fishing the Rainy.
That's great, I love it that so many people are interested in this fabulous fishery. One concern though is that sometimes in our effort to be first in line with good news; we unwittingly pass along tidbits of bad information.
You don't have to do that very often before your credibility goes down the drain and so occasionally, in my opinion, I’m comfortable lagging behind the crowd just a bit.
I think Walleyes are that way too, they don't mind showing up late to their own party. So just because the river water is flowing and landings are open, doesn't mean that the fish are in as big a hurry to be at the party as we are to have them there. It doesn’t have to mean that there’s a problem, it just means that they take their own sweet time getting ready.
I recall the 2012 season and the super early ice out at Winnibigoshish. The big lake was ice free on March 30 and everybody, me included, anticipated an early spawning run of Walleye at the egg harvest station at First River.
The nets were set, the crews were ready and all systems were green for go. The problem was that the Walleyes never got the memo and except for a handful of "Green" females, the early run didn't happen.
Later, just about the time when folks began scratching their heads, worrying that there was a problem, the fish showed up, they arrived on their schedule, not ours.
Despite our sense of urgency, conditions at the Rainy remain unfavorable for any sort of massive spawning run. That combined with the fact that Walleye eggs are still not fully developed, means that the fish don’t need to be in a rush; they’ve got all spring.
The good news is that surface water temperatures are raising slowly, although they have yet to cross the 36 degree mark, they are up from 32 degrees that occurred on March 18. Water levels are receding slowly and stream velocity is trending downward, running just below 1 MPH.
Water clarity has improved somewhat, but remains murky caused by the disturbances of both a spring snowstorm and ice out on the Little Fork River last week.
The forecast shows a moderate warming trend heading our way and barring any more major snow or rain events, water temperatures will continue to trend upward. When we start seeing temperatures crossing the 40 degree mark, we'll start seeing better numbers of fish migrating toward spawning territory.

image of Rainy River Walleye
As water temperatures rise into the 40 degree range, Walleye will begin moving toward spawning territory. ETA? Soon.

image links to article about pre-spawn walleye
Photo Jason Halfen: "While fish numbers in spawning areas will slowly increase during this time of year, it's important to recognize that the spawn may be several weeks away." Read More >> Pre-Spawn, Rainy River Walleyes

In the meantime, Sturgeon fishing has been fairly good on the Rainy and typically remains good for several weeks before they begin to spawn. If you're on the fence about making a trip, this could make taking a chance on driving up a little more palatable.
Closer to home, ice fishing remains a viable option for folks in North Central and North East Minnesota. I'm still hearing good reports from Perch fishermen and I've seen some nice photos of Panfish lately too.
I hope you'll understand, it's really hard for me to advise anybody to go out onto the ice right now. But if you're willing to do some homework and if you're willing to walk to your fishing spot, there are still opportunities on the ice this weekend.

image links to article about marine batteries

Terry Brown and Edwin Evers talk about the most important item in the boat.

"One of the most crucial parts of a tournament angler’s arsenal isn’t his rod and reel or a secret bait. It isn’t even his boat or his engine. One of the vital ingredients to success in fishing is batteries. We all get wrapped up talking about lures, rods, reels and line, but without a high quality battery for our boat, we are dead in the water.
I have seen some shoddy battery installs over the years. No battery trays, no covers especially on the positive leads and inappropriate gauge wire used for ... Read >> Most important item in the boat

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 22, 2016 - A Walk On The Beach

For curing a case of cabin fever, there's nothing like a walk along the shoreline on Lake Superior. I've known that since I was a little kid, when our family ventured up the north shore to beat the heat during summer.
I always wondered why we never packed the fishing gear, that just wasn't meant to be part of those vacations. It’s too bad that I didn't ask more questions, it took until last spring for me to get it through my head that while one walks, carrying a fishing rod, could actually make landing a Trout or Salmon feasible.
It feels like you’re hoofin’ it to the Crappie hole; rigged with 6 pound test line, a small jig, bobber and a jar of waxworms. The difference is that the fish that snaps up the little morsel is liable to be a 5 pound trout or a nice Coho Salmon.
If I talk too long about it, it will sound like I think I’m an expert, but I’m not. So how about if I just say that an average guy, like me, can go into the garage and come out with a rig that will work.
We used the same 7 foot, light action rods that are routinely used for Lindy Rig fishing in the summer. The 2000 series spinning reels are spooled with 6 pound test line and to make long casts easy, we rigged up ¼ ounce size Thill Wobble Bobbers. We set the bobber stops at about 3 feet deep, tied on small Marabou feather jigs in the 1/16 to 1/8 ounce size range and tipped them with a couple of waxworms.
The only difference between our rigs and the ones that the local experts were using is that they had much longer rods; most were 9 feet or even longer. That said, the Wobble Bobbers allowed us to cast almost as far as everyone else, if we were at a disadvantage, it would be related to controlling the fish, not getting into the right territory.
There are other ways to present bait to these fish too, and all of them are equally simple.
Some anglers were using live night crawlers fished just above the bottom on floating rigs. The modified lindy rigs were credited with capturing some of the fish that we saw in angler creels. Next time I go back, I’ll give it a try myself, especially if there’s a wind that makes using the slip floats tricky.
There were lots of folks casting and retrieving spoons too. While we never saw anyone catch a fish this way, the anglers who were casting all looked convinced that they were gonna get struck sooner or later.
I KNOW, you’re asking; “did you hook a fish?” Well it took a while, but eventually our patience paid off, a nice Kamloops Rainbow Trout did strike. I wish that I could tell you how delicious it was, but whenever we got it close to the rocks, something got tangled, and I couldn’t get the fish close enough to touch and one time I tried just a little too hard to get it closer and … That just makes us want to go back for a re-match and as soon we can, we will.
Luckily, the “Hippie Chick” captured an image of the fish as I was reeling it in. For me, the photo is even better than having the fish, an ultimate reminder of how fun a walk on the beach can be!

image of rainbow trout on surface of water
The Rainbow Trout on the surface appears to be heading for the creel. That is unless he catches a lucky ... Clcik to enlarge photo by "The Hippie Chick".

image of Thill Wobble Bobber
The Wobble Bobber allowed making long casts and added action to the baits too.

image of Fuzz E Grubs
Marabou jigs, 1/16 to 1/8 ounce size are standard for pre-spawn trout. The Fuzz E Grubs I have on hand for Crappie and Walleye work on trout too.

image links to article 15 fishing knots every angler should know

15 Fishing Knots Every Angler Should Know - Jason Sealock

"Here are 15 proven fishing knots we think will make you extremely versatile in bass fishing. These knots will give you a lot of options for joining lines, creating loops on lures, snelling, or just getting stronger connections and quick solid knots when you’re in a hurry to get your lure back in the water. We've illustrated how to tie each fishing knot, and made it easy to view on your phone out in the boat. So be sure to bookmark this link for later and share it with your fishing buddies." Learn More >> 15 Fishing Knots Every Angler Should Know

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 19, 2016 - Ice Conditions: Bowstring Winnie Round & Cutfoot Sioux

Fresh in from a tour of four of the areas more popular ice fishing lakes. The take away from what we were able to see is that if you want to ice fish this weekend, you can. Whether or not it is safe, or even if it’s a good idea, will be left up to your discretion.
I am urging you to be extremely cautious, because while it’s obvious that there are still folks on the ice, conditions are sketchy to say the least.
Our first stop was on the north side of Lake Winnibigoshish near Bowen’s flats. There was one rig parked at one the landing and we could see the group of anglers who had hoofed it to the fishing hole. Despite having had a four wheeler on the trailer, they had chosen not to use it.
They had walked out across Bowen’s Flats about ½ miles and whether or not they were catching any fish is anybody's guess. They seemed content out there and were walking around at a brisk pace across the ice. This was the only activity that we could see from this vantage point.
We drove up the shoreline where Bill walked out, chopped some holes with his spud. The ice is soft and there are some slushy spots out there so we would suggest using extreme caution if you decide to venture out that way.
Next stop was at Cutfoot Sioux Lake, near the Williams Narrows Campground, where we found another group of fishermen making ready to get onto the ice.
This particular group had chosen to go ahead and use their four wheelers.  We were able to chat with them as they prepared, and we did watch them go out onto the ice using their ATVs; it appeared that they had a little trouble.
Our own inspection of the ice at that landing revealed soft spots near the shore, but the ice seemed fairly good once we walked out 50 yards or so.
If you’re careful, this landing will probably be good through the weekend, as before, I can only urge you to use extreme caution. If you plan to fish that lake, particularly if you choose to use an ATV for travel, steer clear of narrow areas, dark spots and cracks.
The third stop on our tour was Round Lake, where we checked the ice at south east landing.
Again, there were a couple groups of fishermen on the ice, but apparently everyone on that lake had chosen traveling by ATV to their spots. All of the anglers that we saw on the ice were traveling on foot.
There were rigs parked near the landing that had trailers with ATVs in them, but the ice fishermen decided not to go that way.
The ice looked Okay for walking, but there was some sloppy, soft ice right at the landing. Like the first two lakes, we did not have the opportunity to talk to any fishermen about their fishing. It’s anybody’s guess if the fish are active, but if you care to give it a try, most of the lake is yours for the taking.
The last lake that we checked was Bowstring which has been popular all winter long.
Our first stop, the northwest landing near Northern Acres Resort had a couple of trucks parked. Although there were numerous ATV Trails going out through the slushy ice, these trucks did not appear to be large enough to have delivered them to this landing.
We could see about a dozen ice fishermen on the lake, most of them were walking, but there were a couple of ATVs out there, maybe originating from Trails End Resort.
Again, we did not have the opportunity to talk to any of the fisherman. But it was clear that if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can fish the lake from this landing.
Finally, we drove around to the landing at the north end of the lake where we found another large group of ice fishermen. The report here was concerning. Part of their group had chosen to go fishing, while the others decided to return to the parking lot for some tailgating after they experienced breaking through the ice with their trailer. Thinking that we were headed out onto the lake, they cautioned us to avoid any area that appeared wet, or Grey or remotely questionable.
One of the fishermen said that he had already broken through the ice several times on a smaller lake yesterday. I don’t blame them for being spooked about giving the lake any more encouragement.
The upshot of our tour was surprise at how many people were still ice fishing. We expected to see a few, but the traffic was significant.
I can’t imagine that I could get enthused about risking a trip onto the ice this weekend. But if I was thinking about ice fishing this weekend, I would absolutely be wearing my Arctic Armor float suit FOR SURE.
If you don’t have one, then I strongly suggest wearing a life jacket, just in case you find one of those soft spots. Rope, cleats, ice picks … you know the drill; make sure you have the safety gear covered.  
If you choose to go out there, good luck and have a great time! Above all though be safe!!

image of ice conditions at Bowstring Lake
The landing at Bowstring's northwest corner near Northern Pines Resort.

image of ice conditions at Bowstring LakeWe could see about a dozen ice fishermen on Bowstring lake, most of them were walking, but there were a couple of ATVs out there.

image of ice conditions at cutfoot sioux
At Cutfoot Sioux, this group of anglers chose to use ATVs; apparently without problems.

image of ice conditions on lake winnie

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 18, 2016 - Weathering the Weatherable

The winter storm that struck the Northeastern 1/3 of Minnesota, along with work that directed me away from the office, forced me into a news slow-down this week. In its wake, overnight lows in the teens are locked into the Itasca area and most Rainy River Walleye anglers have little choice but to wait for the next warm up.
The question is, are there any places to fish while we wait for Ol' Sol to warm the warmable? Yes, there are.
Anglers across the southern half of Minnesota already have access to lots of open water.

image of the Deer River
I spied accessible lakes everywhere along my drive between Redwing and Pine City on Wednesday. All that a fisherman needs now is a nice day and the desire to get outside. Panfish, Perch and Crappies are available to entertain us while we wait for the Walleye season.
By the time I reached Moose Lake, I was looking at frozen water again. Except for rivers and streams, opened by running water, most lakes across the Itasca region remain frozen, at least mostly frozen.
The obvious next question is whether or not an angler could safely drill some holes and ice fish this weekend?
Most folks have already given up on ice fishing, and gathering reports isn't going to help gather the answers. Nope, there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to get in the truck and go for a ride.
My pal Bill Powell knows that too and so we are teaming up this morning to go out on reconnaissance. In a few hours, we’ll have some better ideas about whether there are still opportunities for ice fishing this weekend. If you can bear with us and check the report this afternoon, we'll have a better idea of what we can and can't do this weekend.
image links to fishing article

March 2016, Humminbird Autchart Now Available on Helix Models; Follow the 'Birds For More Fish

Mapping the Far North - "With decades of guide experience under his belt, Fishing Hall of Famer Tom Neustrom has seen fishing technology come and go. But he's bullish on user-generated lake mapping via Humminbird LakeMaster AutoChart Live. "It's probably the single most important fishing tool to emerge since GPS. The fact that it comes standard in Humminbird HELIX 9, 10 and 12 CHIRP units is big news for anglers of all walks," says Neustrom. "When AutoChart Live came out, a lightbulb went off ... this is going to crack the code of uncharted Canadian waters. Now I can create my own map in real-time, right on my Helix units. It helps me ..." Learn More >> Follow the 'Birds For More Fish

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 15, 2016 - The Contrast Between Changing Seasons

The power of an image amazes me; a single picture of open water could make it appear that spring has sprung. An angler could be tempted to roll the garage door open, hook up the boat and high tail it for the landing.
A photo of an ice fishing shelter set up over a productive Crappie hole could be equally convincing, giving the appearance that the ice season is still going strong. Someone could say "grab your cleats and get the waxworms, we're heading for ... >> The Grand Rapids Area Fishing Report March 15

image of the deer river

Rainy River Ice Out Report March 12 courtesy Lake of the Woods Tourism lakeofthewoodsmn.com

Checked the river this afternoon and found open water as far to the east as you can see from Birchdale landing so about 1-1.5 miles to the east. Looks open slightly on the Canadian side so it shouldn't be long for that landing to be open. Franz Jevne landing is open water as far as you can see west and east. Franz Jevne landing has about 25-30 yards of ice left on shore but boats are already being pushed off into the water. A couple more days and it should be open up to Birchdale Landing. Lake of the Woods Tourism lakeofthewoodsmn.com

image of small boat on the rainy river

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Fishing Report March 12, 2016 Boat Show Time!

I mentioned that my new boat is going to be quite a departure from what I’ve been running and I can hardly wait to tell you all about it! But You KNOW that there are certain things that should only be talked about when you’re face to face. That’s why I think it’s a great idea for you to stop in at the IRA Civic Center for the boat show this weekend.
Yes, if you stop by the Ray’s Marine Boat Show, then I’ll tell you all about it and guess what, it's already here and you can even see it for yourself!
Don't forget, there's a free fish fry today too, so stop by and we'll bend each other's ears with stories about fishing, boats and electronics and outboard engines. Hours are 10 AM to 7 PM today at the IRA Civic Center, 1401 NW 3rd Ave, Grand Rapids, MN 55744 >> Ray’s Marine Boat Show

image of ice conditions in northern minnesota image denotes link to fish rapper article From The Marcell Area, Frontier Sports, Paul Larson (March 12); "Last weekend signaled the winding down of the 2015-2016 ice fishing season, has begun. The weather cooperated for the most part with Sunday’s temperature reaching fifty, light winds and lots of sunshine. By Monday the snow had started to melt and there were quite a few patches of water on the ice but four wheelers and snowmobiles made it through just fine. Now it appears that we’re on the verge of what could be the last weekend of good ice.
The areas of water that were on the ice earlier in the week have for the most part sunk down into the cracks and the ice is high and dry. A cool down into more seasonal temperatures is forecast for next week but this weekend we’ll see temps in the fifties again. Rain is expected on Sunday and that could mean four wheelers and you’re shanks mare will be about the only way to get out on the ice. To be safe, ice creepers will be a necessity. Fishing wise, the reports I received this week seemed to favor water depths in ten to sixteen foot range for both Perch and Crappie while the Sunfish tended to be a little deeper. The bite has been very light and dead sticking an ultralight rod with a very sensitive tip like the 13 Fishing Tickle Stick was the most effective way to detect a bite. Even then I missed a lot of fish. For me and a lot of other anglers, plastics imitating blood worms, on tungsten jig heads were the ticket. The plastics were more productive than either minnows or waxies. With only a few weekends left of the season we should all do our best to get out as often as we can. Before long spring will be upon us and of course the opener is not that far off. Have a fun and safe weekend, and don’t forget the ice creepers!
The tackle department and bait shop are fully stocked with what you need to have a successful fishing outing in this area and we hope you drop by on your way to the lake." Frontier Sports features a complete and fully stocked Sporting Goods department and Bait Shop, Gas, Grocery, Deli and Gift Shop. Frontier Sports is an authorized LIVE TARGET and SAVAGE GEAR dealer. Frontier Sports 218-832-3901 or Email .

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 10, 2016 - Soggy, Saggy, Soupy

I mentioned yesterday my willingness to be swayed by Mother Nature; to leave the ice auger behind and focus on “Big Tiller” engines and smooth riding boats. Well, I made it through the morning, but by mid-afternoon, I couldn’t help myself, I had to go for a walk on the ice.
Honestly, I’ve had enough fishing on larger lakes where long rides to the fishing holes are required. It seemed like a good idea to poke around on smaller waters, but would mean walking, not driving to the fish.
When it comes to hoofin’ it, nobody has more get up and go than my friend Bill Powell, so I called and asked if he’d come along; he did.
Just to satisfy your curiosity, we would not have needed to walk, at least not yet; an ATV would have been okay on the ice. But please take what I’m about to say seriously, ice conditions are deteriorating fast and just because the ice is “Thick” doesn’t mean that it is “Strong”. On Wednesday there was a noticeable change in the strength of the ice, its integrity has been diminished by drainage of surface water.
Over the past few days, most of the images I’ve shared with you featured standing water on the ice. By yesterday afternoon, the surface of the ice was dry, the water was gone. The ice that was clear and solid a short time ago is now soggy and saggy. As I walked between ice fishing holes, I could see that there was movement of the water in the holes. At 250 pounds, nobody will ever call me dainty, but I’m still a lot lighter than a pickup truck and if I can move the ice by walking, then I’m leaving the truck on shore.
Bill echoed the report about soggy ice too; he mentioned drilling wet holes on other small lakes he’s visited. “By the time I get the holes drilled half way, they are already filled with water” he said.
I issued a plea to area resorts on Wednesday for help with reports about ice conditions on their lakes. Here’s what I have so far and with luck, there will be more coming in today.
OH, by the way, the fishing was good enough for us guys, but I wouldn’t call it stellar. We experienced the same small fish phenomenon that I’ve mentioned recently. We caught decent numbers of Crappies, many of them were within “eater” range, but there were lots of really small ones too there were a few larger specimens, which gave us reason to grin.  
Luckily, the water was shallow, 18 to 22 feet, so all of the fish were easily released. All except for one, I’m not sure why that one couldn’t swim down the hole, but I do know that he was delicious.
By this time tomorrow, I’ll be washing and ironing my gas station shirt, making ready to spend the weekend at the Ray’s Marine Boat Show. That, coupled with a weather forecast that’s fit for Orlando, makes me think that if I get onto the ice today, it will be my last hard water adventure of the season.

image of Jeff Sundin with nice Crappie
Many of them were within “eater” range, but there were a few larger specimens, which gave us reason to grin.  

image of Bill Powell ice fishing

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image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 9, 2016 - Clearing The Clearable!

I can honestly say that I'm not ready for the ice fishing season to end. After what seemed like an endless wait to get the season started, Mother Nature tried to make up with us by delivering a couple of months of tremendous fishing.
Now that travel conditions had really gotten good, just when we are really having a blast, Mother is apparently willing to dish out a doseage of "tough love", pulling the rug out from under us. In fact I thought I heard a voice that said; “no-no Jeffrey, no more ice for you, it’s time to put that auger away.”
I suppose she's right, I’ve had enough play time on hard water; it’s time to focus on the upcoming open water season.
Now I can't promise that you won't see any more pictures of me sneaking out onto the ice, I might need another day or two to to get it out of my system. But I am reading the tea leaves, and I see that it's time to get working on "Clearing the Clearable".
The down time will actually come in handy for me, allowing ample time to get the new boat rigged and ready for open water.
For those of you who have the time and the inclination to stick with the ice fishing season a bit longer, most of the lakes in the Itasca area are still fishable and have solid, albeit wet ice.
If I had written this before I left the house yesterday, I would have said that I didn't expect to see a lot of action on the ice. It turned out that would have been an understatement of mammoth proportion.
On Tuesday, I gave myself a tour of the area and as I drove north heading for Winnie, there were dozens of rigs heading south, trailers in tow and heading home.
As I rolled into landings at a variety of lakes, I was amazed at how completely abandon they all look now. Obviously, the panic about an early ice out really lit a fire under folks who had permanent shelters on the ice. Except for an odd, lonesome wheel house scattered here and there, most of the lake’s surfaces that I spied were free of any ice shelters.
There were handfuls of fisherman, a few at each lake and some of them were still driving trucks. Most of them appeared to be in safe territory for the moment, but most of the landings are showing signs of wear and tear. Barring an unforeseen cold spell, I doubt that landings at most lakes will hold up for truck traffic until the weekend.
Judging by the conditions at some ramps, some folks may try to tough it out in their pickup trucks through the upcoming weekend. But I don't think it would be wise for me to signal that I think this is a good idea. I agree with many safety minded anglers and I fear that the accesses will have completely deteriorated over the next few days.
I’ve heard second hand reports that resorts and rental operators on Lake of the Woods are considering road closures by this weekend too. I will do my best to confirm these reports today and get them posted for tomorrow morning.
Oh, by the way that reminds me; I mentioned that it’s time to get the new boat rigged up. This rig is going to be quite a departure from what I’ve been running and I can hardly wait to tell you all about it!
But You KNOW that there are certain things that should only be talked about when you’re face to face. That’s why I think it’s a great idea for you to stop in at the IRA Civic Center for the boat show this weekend. Yes, if you stop by the Ray’s Marine Boat Show, then I’ll tell you all about it. I think that maybe you can even see it for yourself if it's ready by then.
Finally, before we give up on ice fishing, I’ve wanted to remind you about something that I do during this time of the season.
Before the bait shops and tackle stores take down all of the ice fishing lures, I go in and get stocked up on some of the jigs that I’ll need for fishing next fall. If you’ve followed my fishing reports during September and October, then you’ll recall that heavy ice jigs like the Tungsten Toad and Lindy’s Ice Worm are deadly for open water Panfish. The trick is to get stocked up on ‘em now, while they’re still available.
By the way, I’ve noticed some smoking hot deals on portable fishing shelters too and if you’re thinking that you’ll need one for next winter, then I’d suggest doing a bit of bargain shopping before it’s too late.
image links to fishing comments from reader Reader Comments March 9, 2016; "Hi Jeff, After reading your report the other day about someone not liking you fishing in their so called spot I just figured I would send you a note telling you how much I appreciate reading your fishing reports and the fishing advise you have given me.  It’s too bad a few bad eggs have to try and ruin things for the rest of us but there will always be a few bad eggs I guess.
I will not name the lake but there is one small lake in the Duluth area that really turned on for Panfish and the word got out.  The other day there was 75 people all piled in one small area pulling out crappie after crappie.  This has been going on for a few weeks, many people were talking about how they have been there every day for weeks and their freezers are full.  It’s too bad people have to treat a resource like this; I am sure it will take years for this small lake to come back.  The one good thing was the DNR had heard of the bite and they were out checking the lake.  The DNR officer told me the damage has already been done to this lake.  I guess its human nature but it sure it tough to watch." (Name Witheld By Request)

image links to enlargement of ice conditions on leech lake
"I'm so lonesome I could ... the single wheelhouse remaining on Bowstring Lake's north end, near Trails End Resort.

image of ice conditions at Pine Point on Leech Lake
The road out from Pine Point at Leech Lake. Cub Reporter, Staff #004 says; "Only a few more days left over here."

image ofice at boat landing
Except for an odd, lonesome wheel house scattered about, most of the lake’s surfaces that I spied were free of any ice shelters.

image of ice conditions at leech lakeBarring an unforeseen cold spell, I doubt that landings at most lakes will hold up for truck traffic until the weekend.

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 7, 2016 - Melting the Meltable

It's a foregone conclusion that we are still going to have at least some ice to work with for a couple of weeks. But for folks who have become used to driving on the lakes with pickup trucks things are changing faster than they would like I'm afraid.
On Sunday we managed to drive out to the sunfish hole with a little trouble. Although the ice was water covered, is still solid and 24 inches thick.
The issue is that the rapid snowmelt and standing water on the surface of the ice will damage the landings and restrict access to many of the most popular fishing spots.

image links to enlargement of ice conditions on leech lake
Although the ice was water covered on Sunday, is still solid and 24 inches thick. ATV's will soon be the best way to reach the best territory.

Anglers who have ATVs or anglers who can walk out on small lakes should have no problem finding a place to fish. And despite the apparent early arrival of spring, we should never discount Mother Nature’s ability to send us one more cold snap. Once the surface of the ice becomes dry, air temperatures dipping into the teens could bring the entire ice fishing season back to life again.
Let's just say that's what happens, that would be great news for Panfish anglers because Bluegills and Crappies are beginning to turn up in shallow water again.
On Sunday, we noticed that most of the traffic on the lake was still centered on deeper water, a hole that dropped into about 30 feet. As we watched anglers hole-hopping the deep water, decent numbers of Sunfish cruised the shallow flat in water depths of 7 to 10 feet.
 As the sun dipped onto the tree line, other Panfish anglers in the neighborhood lifted fish out of their holes steadily.
I can’t say that the fish we caught we all large ones, in fact most of them were on the small side, averaging 7 to 8 inches. There were just enough larger fish to keep us interested and by sunset, we had enough for a meal.
Tungsten Toads tipped with waxworms was the best bait early and as the fish became more active, they accepted artificial tails in lieu of live bait.
I’ve still got fishing on the agenda for most of this week, but between the forces of nature and the arrival of the boat show season, my days on the ice could be numbered.
That reminds me, I’ll be on the show floor at the Ray’s Marine Boat Show at the IRA Civic Center, Grand Rapids this weekend March 11 thru 13, 2016. The show hours are Noon to 8:00 PM on Friday March 11, 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM Saturday March 12 and 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Sunday March 13.
I along with other top pros will be on hand to answer questions about boats, outboards and electronics; oh and yes, we can even talk fishing too!
This is your best chance of the year to see all of the models under one roof, so get your questions ready and make a point of stopping by.

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 4, 2016 - Crashing The Party?

Remember when you were invited to a party and thinking that you'd be among friends, decided to go, only to discover that nobody at the gathering really wanted you there? Yeah, I KNOW, it stinks, I've been at a few parties like that myself, and in fact one of them was just yesterday.
Being there wasn't all that much fun, but I still learned a lot, so I'm glad that I was.
Honestly, I'm still not exactly sure why, but I guess that somebody didn't like the idea of me fishing on their "Top Secret Lake". That by itself was surprising to me because I thought that these folks were friends of mine.


image links to fishing report

A bigger surprise might have been that they hadn’t considered that I've been fishing that lake, that exact spot since before they were ever born.
The biggest surprise of all though was their unfortunate display of behavior; we don't need to go over that right now. I'm gonna let that water go under the bridge because they maybe just got a bad tip from advice columnist, Vinnie Testosteronee; he gives out bad advice sometimes.
The fact that you're reading this report proves that you already KNOW that I go out of my way to share information. Fishing tips and techniques that help you find and catch more fish. You also KNOW that you can't count on me for GPS coordinates, not the location of my "Top Secret Spot", and most times, not even the name of the lake I'm fishing.
What I try to do instead is help folks who will meet me half way. I cater to anglers who are willing to do some of their own thinking. When they combine what I know with what they already know, then it makes the puzzle about where and how to fish easier to put together. I've shared advice about everything from fishing patterns to rigging boats, I've done it happily, with enthusiasm and it helps.
You could be wondering; "why would anybody get up every day at 4:00 AM to do that, why do you write all of these reports and share 'em with the world?"
The answer is simple, I do it because it's good for fishing and I believe that if I help my fellow anglers, then my fellow anglers will eventually help me.
They might not call me with a hot tip about where to catch a lunker, but eventually they will help. It could be as simple as them supporting my favorite bait shop, if they buy their minnows there, then their purchase will help my friends stay in business. If the bait store stays in business, then I will always have a place to get fresh bait. 
See what I mean? Just by going fishing at all, they have actually helped all of us without even knowing it. If you broaden the view, then every single dollar spent on anything during any fishing trip helps everybody who loves fishing. Do the math, take the equation as far as you like, it adds up to millions!
I depend on fishing to make my living so I KNOW how important it is to keep the sport alive and healthy. I understand that without their support, I might not be able to keep my own business going. Most folks don't make a living fishing so maybe they haven't thought of this yet, but the simple truth is that without all of us, fishing won't be good for any of us.  If we want to see our grandchildren enjoy the tradition of fishing, then it's going to take the entire angling population, pulling together to keep the industry healthy.
I'm just one tiny cog in a gigantic machine, but I'm trying to pull my weight. I'm doing my best to be good for fishing and I'm hoping that somewhere along the line; it benefits you, even if you don't realize it.
So if you happen to see me on the lake, trust me, I'm not there to hurt you and it’s not necessary to throw a temper fit. Instead of doing wheelies around the ice shack or spinning your wheels to throw rocks at me, try waving or maybe even sharing a smile. Believe me, it's not that hard, you might even start to like it. image of smiley fish

image of Humminbird News Release; Humminbird® SmartStrike® Coming to HELIX® 9, 10 and 12 CHIRP

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Here's how it works: SD card-based cartography product SmartStrike allows anglers to quickly run searches for various target species by entering criteria like season, time of day, water conditions, cloud cover, wind, depth, structure ..." Learn More >> Humminbird Smart Strike

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 2, 2016 - Ice Travel Conditions Improve, Fishing Pressure Intensifies

I remember once showing up on the final day of a spectacular 75% off fishing gear sale. Naturally, the really good stuff was already gone and we who arrived late had to settle for the scraps.
Fishing on Tuesday reminded me of that sale, there were still fish to catch, but the larger specimens have been noticeably thinned out. The smaller fish that remained were still catchable, but they traveled in smaller packs and were finicky biters.
It was a combination of last weekend's warm weather and good travel conditions that triggered the rally. Judging by what we saw on the ice yesterday, I'd say that folks did a really good job of covering territory. Captain Kirk would have been hard pressed to "boldly go where no man had gone before".

image of ice fisherman bringing crappie up from fishing hole
Finding a smaller number of higher quality fish made switching to an offbeat lake a good idea on Tuesday.

For me, it was good news because the late arrival of this ice season wasn't too good for area businesses. With what appears to be an early spring steaming toward us, they can use all of the help they can get right now.
Fishing pressured lakes does present anglers with a dilemma though; should I stay, settling for smaller size "leftovers" on the most popular lakes, or is this a better time to strike out and try to find some overlooked territory.
For me, the satisfaction of finding quality fish, even if there are fewer of them, outweighs playing it safe. So on Tuesday we took a shot at what we hoped would be fish of higher quality, even if there were fewer of them. That's how it worked too, during a 3 hour search; we caught a total of 8 Crappies. Some of them were much better than what we'd found in the morning, making it feel like we'd done really well.
For what it's worth, the fish on both lakes showed a strong preference for minnows. A Frostee tipped with a whole minnow produced fish when other baits barely got a sniff. I did pick up a couple of fish using a Tungsten Toad tipped with wax worms too, so I'd be sure to have some of those packed for the next trip too.
Assuming that I could do anything I want, I'd sharpen my ice cleats, grab a pail to sit on and play out the rest of the ice season by hoofing it onto the ice wherever it looks the most peaceful.
If travelling by truck and producing the greatest number of fish was my priority, then I'd start thinking big. I’d fish on Leech Lake, Winnibigoshish, Lake of the Woods, any lake with enough real estate to provide an angler with abundant opportunity for finding fresh territory.
Perch that have eluded anglers by roaming the depths will soon be pushing toward spawning territory. So will Walleye and Pike up on the border, barring a major snowfall, vehicle travel will continue be an option for at least a couple of weeks, maybe longer.

image links to press release about humminbird onix 10

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Lake Superior Ice Stacking [Video]; Lake Superior put on a beautiful show in Duluth, Minnesota.

"We had to share this beautiful footage shot on February 13, 2016 by Dawn M. LaPointe. If you appreciate the power of beauty of Mother Nature, this is definitely worth sharing with your friends.
Here's what the original post on Radiant Spirit Gallery's Facebook page said; "While shooting in Canal Park, I noticed the ice had pulled away from shore and ..." View Video >> Lake Superior Ice Stacking

image links to video about ice stacking up on lake superior

image denotes fishing report submitted by Jeff Sundin Ice Fishing Report March 1, 2016 - Freezing the Freezeable!

An exploratory mission led me on a tour to check the ice and do a little fishing this Monday. I have to admit that after getting a healthy dosage of warm spring like weather, I can’t say that I was too happy about fishing in single digit temperatures again.
The good news though is that this cold snap has really made driving on the lakes a lot easier.  Throughout my travels, the pickup truck rested high atop the re-frozen slush that formed during the thaw. I did hit one stubborn pocket of slush, so we still have to pay attention to where we drive, but for the most part, we can now go wherever we want to.
It wasn’t my intention to do a lot of fishing on Monday, but I did wet a line for a while. Between my own experiences and what I learned from friends before I drove out, the trend in Perch, Crappie and Sunfish location appears to be deeper, rather than shallower.
I fished shallow water for an hour and my Humminbird revealed very few fish. During that time I failed to get a single strike. Conversely, I drove out to deeper water, drilled one hole at 19 feet and began seeing fish as soon as my transducer settled in the water. A few minutes later I had a fat Perch flopping on the snow, there were more fish down there, but like I said; I didn’t want to catch ‘em today; I just wanted to know where they were.
For what it’s worth, I tried 3 baits and of the 3, the fish showed a definite preference for my 1/8 ounce Glow/Red Frostee Jigging Spoon tipped with waxworms.
Over the next few days, “catching” will gain importance over “prospecting”, so you can count on more accurate first hand reporting throughout this week.
I doubt that you need to be reminded, but I wouldn’t want you to forget and find yourself in an embarrassing situation. So here’s a quick reminder; the 2015 fishing season ended yesterday.
We all need new fishing licenses today and whenever we fish inland waters, we’ll need to remind ourselves that Walleye, Pike and Bass are now off limits until this spring.
Frequent readers have seen this before, but one really slick way to manage your fishing and hunting licenses if to buy them online and print multiple copies. No, you can’t share ‘em with your friends, but you can keep copies in strategic locations; that’s what I do.
I just printed 5 copies, and then laminated them for protection. I put one in my wallet, one in my truck, one in my boat, one in the snowmobile and I have still one more ready for whenever my new boat rolls in this spring. I’m all set; I’ve protected myself from having a forgetful moment, which in my line of work, would be bad for business!

image of big perch with frostee jigging spoon in mouth
On Monday, Perch showed a definite preference for my 1/8 ounce Glow/Red Frostee Jigging Spoon tipped with waxworms.

image of minnesota fishing license
A really slick way to manage your fishing and hunting licenses is to buy them online and print multiple copies. No, you can’t share ‘em with your friends, but you can keep copies in strategic locations

Do You Know that you can even post your own helpful hints to our fishing reports page on facebook? YES! You Can! You don't have to tell us your secrets, just go ahead and brag a little when you get a whopper! Click >>> Fishing Reports Minnesota .
And ... did you know that Jeff's Thursday Morning Program is available for two weeks after the air date? Yes, you'll never need to miss the show. Click the image and then select the 6:00 hour on Thursday. Scroll in to about 6:20 AM and you're in business! Link to KAXE Audio Archive