Brrr. We literally dove right into winter temps. Some area water temperatures are now hovering around the 40-degree mark, and we already have had confirmation of skim ice forming on waters to the far north.
In the Twin Ports we still have some time until freeze-up. With that being said, I believe we will have an earlier start to ice-fishing this year. Stay tuned for ice reports and safety advice in the coming weeks. Remember, no ice is ever safe. Until we have ice, we will still be out fishing open water.
Lake Superior angling has been nonexistent. You can literally go to any local boat access and see very little to no traffic. This is not uncommon for this time of year, with season closures in effect — not to mention deer season opening this weekend in Minnesota. Smallmouth fishing in Chequamegon Bay represents the only reports we have. Anglers are finding success drifting with sucker minnows.
Stream fishing continues to show signs of life. However, one must get to an area early because of the fishing pressure. The best tactic continues to be swinging flies or casting hardware in faster waters. Some anglers are using spawn bags and having some success. The fishing has slowed a little because of the rivers rising and getting a little dirty due to precipitation, but a few chrome steelhead are around for those willing to spend the time. Both North Shore and South Shore streams are still seeing plenty of action.
St. Louis River action has slowed a little, but plenty of fish are still around — they are just not in the same spots as they were yesterday! So, being mobile is key. Walleyes are being caught in 10 feet of water by slow-trolling crankbaits and pitching ⅜-ounce jigs with aggressive retrieves. Live bait has been the best option, but the bigger fish are liking an oversized plastic. It has been instrumental to have the right rod for the job. We have been using medium-light custom rods in the 6-foot, 10-inch version. Muskie angling is showing success for those who are spending time on the water slow-drifting oversized sucker minnows on quick-set rigs.
Anglers on inland lakes continue to get a few fish as well. Again, it is a good time of year to start and fish the usual wintering holes for panfish. Occasionally, to change things up, we go as far as bringing out our ice-fishing electronics and ice rods with ice tackle.
Muskie angling has been fair on the reservoirs north of Duluth.