Minnesota Outdoorsman - Minnesota Fishing and Hunting Reports


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Check out this comprehensive guide for choosing spinning reels:

  • Spinning Reels 
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    On the south end...  Ice conditions on LOW are excellent.  Some great walleyes and saugers caught this week.  Fishing was up and down with cold fronts, -31 air temps, etc.  Plenty of fish for fish frys, some trophy walleyes, big sturgeon, some jumbo perch, an occasional pike, crappie or tulibee and plenty of sauger in the mix.  Most anglers fishing 25 - 30' if on structure, 30' - 36' over mud.  Resort houses continue to follow fish and are moving constantly.   Best colors gold, pink, glow red and UV glow colors.  Both jigging line and deadstick with a live minnow producing based on mood of walleyes.  Electronics very helpful.  Watch for suspended walleyes.  Rattles and noise effective.

    On the Rainy River...   The river is frozen over with some snowmobile traffic on marked trail.  Current has dropped some, but still strong.  Extra caution is always needed on the river.  Thin ice near International Bridge in Baudette and thinner ice on stretches of the river.  Work through resort if ice fishing for safety.

    Up at the NW Angle...  Good fishing continues with a mix of walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, pike and eelpout.  Cold fronts can affect bite from day to day, adjust to mood of fish.  Downsize if finicky, keep minnow active on deadstick.  Snowmobile trails from south end to Angle groomed and in good shape.  Stay on trails as there are ice chunks on lake.  Fish houses on LOW on the ice through March.  A complete list of lodging and ice fishing options available at www.LakeoftheWoodsMN.com/Lodging

    The early ice fishing formula for 

    success with 

    "Tackle" Terry Tuma

    by Terry Tuma

    With the arrival of hard water, “Tackle” Terry Tuma answers some questions for fishing multiple species through holes in the lakes the next several months. Catch a live seminar with “T3” next weekend at the St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show at RiverCentre.

    Q: Will jigging spoons catch winter crappies and sunfish?

    “Tackle” Terry: Most winter panfish anglers will avoid spoons because they consider them strictly walleye lures. They shouldn’t!

    Size, color, vibration and action is key to catching aggressive and lockjaw pans. Work more aggressive presentations for periods of high panfish activity levels. I do this by intensifying lift-drops coupled with short pauses and holds with my Rapala jigging spoons. Slow down the movement for those tough biters with fewer, shorter lift-drops and increase hold times.

    Lures in sizes of 1/12 and 1/16 ounces are both attractors and triggers. Tease the slabs by adding one waxworm on each tine, or a minnow on one tine hooked parallel to the dorsal fin. Drill two holes 2 to 3 feet apart for both stubborn crappies or sunfish and rapidly pound bottom in one hole which becomes an attractor. Trigger with a dead stick, bobber system or small, slower presentation in the other opening. This is a one-two approach that will produce winter walleyes, too!

    Q: When should I set the hook with jigs for ice walleyes?

    “Tackle” Terry: On all water bodies, a heavy thump indicates a walleye has inhaled your bait, so set the hook quickly. If you feel ticks, fish are just nipping baits, so hold off. Gently and slowly lift the jig up an inch to force the walleye to bite up. Another approach is to drop the rod tip down to create semi-slack line and let the fish chew the minnow for a few seconds. Stinger hooks are a last resort, though I try to avoid them. Finally, be sure your hook gap is wide and hooks are sharp!

    Q: How do you hook minnows under bobbers for ice crappies? And what about size?!

    “Tackle” Terry: Place your hook parallel to the dorsal fin point-forward for a natural look. Hook it near the tail to imitate an injured baitfish for reluctant biters. Pin minnows (1-inch long or less) usually are my best producers. That said, always keep crappie minnows, small fatheads, and shiners in the bait bucket.

    As for size, that really depends on mood, water clarity, light levels, and “matching the hatch.” Always replace the bait after you catch a crappie. Likewise, use a new minnow after 8 to 10 minutes to refresh scent and movement.

    Q: Where should I cut off minnow heads and how often should I change them in ice fishing scenarios?

    “Tackle” Terry: You’ll see an excellent  increase in scent and taste by changing heads every five to 10 minutes, especially for non-aggressive walleyes. This may determine whether a fish bites or not. Always pinch off the head between the dorsal fin and gill plate instead of cutting. That added “meat” and jagged skin edge boosts the scent, flash and movement factor, which intensifies the strike response!

    Q: How do you adjust when marking ice sunfish on electronics but you can’t get them to bite?

    “Tackle” Terry: Raise or lower your lure to the fish in water column, then try subtle jigging, hold, or draw it up 2 to 3 inches above band to coax bites. Do not waste more than 30 seconds working these fish. Target different ones.

    If this reoccurs, change lure size, drop speed, color, or design. Experiment with one, two, or three spikes and waxworm size, too. These fish are curiosity seekers and not active eaters. Fish usually are negative to neutral if change-ups produce, assuming you started with legitimate bait and lure selections.

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