Lake of the Woods
Ice fishing slowed a bit during the recent cold snap but held fairly steady, overall, along the south shore.
According to Lake of the Woods Tourism, some ice roads now are open to midsize and smaller vehicles, but staying on marked trails is recommended. As of early this week, 9 to 14 inches of ice was reported in the south shore areas where resorts were traveling, and the lake will continue to gain ice with the cold snap on tap again this weekend. Anglers have been catching a mix of walleyes, saugers and the occasional eelpout in 24 to 31 feet of water.
In the Rocky Point area, Dale’s Fish House Rentals north of Roosevelt, Minn., reported Wednesday on its Facebook page access will be limited to all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles for at least another week; areas with 9 to 11 inches of ice persist near Gull Rock, the report said, and at least 11 to 14 inches is necessary before they’ll begin plowing an ice road.
Meanwhile, Springsteel Resort north of Warroad, Minn., reports 10 to 12 inches of ice in areas with little snow on the ice and 8 inches in areas with deeper snow. As a result, the resort isn’t yet allowing truck traffic through its access and won’t open the road to vehicles until there’s at least 12 inches.
In the Northwest Angle area, Lake of the Woods Tourism reports good fishing in 20 to 27 feet of water for a mix of walleyes and saugers along with the odd jumbo perch, northern pike and eelpout. “Some” crappies reportedly are being caught on the Ontario side of the lake.
Fishing has been good, and ice conditions range from 7 to 11 inches across most of the lake, the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce reported on its website. There still are places that have a “spotty” 4 inches, the report said, so caution remains the buzzword. Anglers have reported finding perch in several areas. Walleye fishing has been pretty consistent, the report said, with some anglers having their best luck shallow while others are catching fish in 25 to 35 feet of water. Jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head have produced the best results; colors vary, but orange, pink and red have been fairly consistent, the report said.
Upper Red Lake
West Wind Resort in Waskish, Minn., on the east side of Upper Red, said it now is allowing all sizes of vehicles and fish houses, and most areas on that side of the lake have at least a foot of ice. Still, the resort recommends bigger rigs not venture too far off the roads. With the cold weather, cracks that develop when the ice expands and shifts need time to “heal.” Good walleye reports are coming from 8 to 10 feet of water, with the most consistent action before dark. Anglers staying in “sleeper” houses have reported good fishing late at night as well. As always, anglers venturing to the big lake should check in with resorts and bait shops in the area they plan to fish.
Conditions have changed with the onset of cold weather, Matt Breuer of Northcountry Guide Service reported.
Breuer said the guide service pulled its rental houses onto the ice Jan. 7, finding a maximum thickness of 11 inches that required using light utility vehicles to pull houses and haul clients. By the end of this past weekend, Lake Bemidji had nearly 16 inches of ice, and the guide service was driving trucks on Lake Bemidji. Thickness ranges from 9 to 16 inches, Breuer said, and some areas that froze later still aren’t safe for trucks, but the lake will build ice with the Arctic blast on tap for this weekend.
Fishing was good for walleyes before the cold snap, Breuer said, with rentals catching as many as 25 walleyes a day. That changed when the cold front came in; perch and pike were still active, Breuer said, but the walleyes slowed a bit. Panfish action is still hot on many area lakes, Breuer said, but mobility is tough when it’s cold. Smaller lakes mostly have more than 12 inches of ice, and many are being accessed with sleds or vehicles, he said.
Walleye action was sporadic last week and slowed even more during the cold snap, Jason Freed of Leisure Outdoor Adventures reported.
Walleyes have been less aggressive during the cold front, requiring anglers to really hone in on those peak periods and stay mobile in search of active fish. Most walleyes still are being caught throughout the Main Lake in 12 to 16 feet of water, Freed said, a pattern that has held true with reefs, shoreline breaks and points. Anglers accessing the ice from the south end of the lake have been heading out to reefs and dropoffs around Pipe and Pelican islands; on the west end of the lake, Traders Bay, Stony Point and Pine Point all are seeing action. Walleye fishing has been decent in Walker Bay, where “eater” fish have been more prominent, Freed said. Best action is in 18 to 28 feet of water near shore, as well as dropoffs and points. Ice on Walker Bay varies from 4 to 6 inches in some places to 11 or 12 inches in others, Freed said, so anglers should proceed with caution.
Perch fishing has been good, with better fish coming on both main lake rock-to-sand transitions and depressions in shallow sand or weed flats. With the abundance of small perch in the system, Freed recommends upsizing tackle to target larger perch. Panfishing remains good on area lakes for crappies and bluegills, Freed said, with both species showing up in typical midwinter areas such as basin edges and mid-depth soft bottom flats. Freed recommends targeting “dishpan-style” lakes with tungsten jigs or small jigging spoons tipped with soft plastics or maggots.
• Turtle River State Park near Arvilla, N.D.: Cross-country ski trails are open and in good condition; snow depth was 2 inches before Thursday’s snowfall.
• Grahams Island State Park near Devils Lake: Cross-country ski trails are open and in good condition; snow depth 8 to 10 inches.
• Icelandic State Park near Cavalier, N.D.: Ski trails are open and in fair condition; snow depth 12 inches.
• Northeast Trail (snowmobile—Cavalier, Pembina and Walsh counties): Trails are in the process of opening and grooming is underway; snow depth 12 to 14 inches. Info: snowmobilend.org.
• Red River North Trail (snowmobile—Pembina and Walsh counties): Trails are open and some of the trails were groomed Tuesday; snow depth 10 to 12 inches. Info: snowmobilend.org.
• Red River South Trail (snowmobile—Grand Forks and Walsh counties): Trails are in the process of opening. The West and East loops are open and will be groomed by this weekend, the Alberta Clipper Loop is open and will be groomed next week, and the Turtle River Trail remains closed. Info: snowmobilend.org.
• Peace Garden, North Central and Lake Region snowmobile trails: Closed due to lack of snow or poor ice conditions. Info: snowmobilend.org.
• Lake of the Woods: The Northwest Angle Edge Riders snowmobile club reported all lake trails now are marked, including both the inside and outside portions of the Northwest Angle Trail south to Warroad. Groomers need at least 16 to 18 inches of ice to operate, so it likely will be a couple of weeks before any of the lake trails are groomed, the club reported.
• Hayes Lake State Park south of Roseau, Minn.: Good snowmobile conditions, 6 miles groomed; no groomed ski trail; local snow depth 11 inches.
• Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.: Snowmobile trail is good with 3 miles groomed; no groomed ski trail; local snow depth 10 inches.
• Lake Bemidji State Park: Cross-country ski trails are fair and partially groomed, while snowmobile trails are poor; 1-inch trail base; local snow depth 4 inches.
• Old Mill State Park, Minn.: Snowmobile trails are listed as fair with a 2-inch base and 1 mile groomed; no groomed ski trail; local snow depth 10 inches.
• Zippel Bay State Park north of Williams, Minn.: Ski trails aren’t groomed but will be groomed for candlelight ski events set for Jan. 22 and Feb. 20; 6.8 miles of ungroomed ski trails are available. Snowmobile trails in the park are listed as poor; local snow depth 8 inches.
Downhill skiing report
• Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: 12- to 30-inch base, machine groomed, 1 inch new snow, making snow. Skiing and boarding hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday; tubing hours 4 to 8 p.m. today and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday through Monday. Info: bvskiarea.com.
• Frostfire Ski Area near Walhalla, N.D.: Snow base about 15 inches, 6 inches of new snow, making snow when needed. Open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays and Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Info: frostfireskiarea.com.
• Detroit Mountain near Detroit Lakes, Minn.: 13- to 25-inch base, groomed, 1 inch of new snow. Info: detroitmountain.com.
— compiled by Brad Dokken