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Cookie's Upper Red Lake Fishing Report

Our first weekend on the ice was a little slow for us. Chris in† North Dakota with his boys had some good action the first 16 hours then she just fizzled out.
†Dan and Mel had Florida for the weekend . They only managed to get 4 keepers. They did have a grand time on a grand lake and will be back tomorrow for a Christmas vacation.
†Montana had another customer that has been coming for years . Leroy his son Scott and Scotts daughter Nataly. They only managed a couple fish at best.
†California had Joe and his family Kathy,Lucy and Izec? They all ready made plans for next year same dates. Even though the fishing was slow they did enjoy there stay.
†Wayne came for old Minnesota. We played some cards, watched some movies. Wayne is a dear friend of mine that we worked together in the auto body trade. He came in saturday and sunday to help with some† truck windows plus a door on the red baron.. It will make it a little easier to go on the lake with window that are closed.. he lost 3 fish and only landed two.
†We moved Larry and Dan yesterday . They have been fishing in Kentucky our ice castle. They have gotten a few fish but nothing to brag about.
†It sure would of been nice to say limits were caught?
†Jonny boy and I got all the houses moved into a new area. There spread out so we will see what happens.
Brian and Stacy checked into montana yesterday. They have also been coming up for years. We also checked in Dan and his buddy Jerry into florida. Later today we will see if they had any† action.
†Were back to square one with the red baron as we have good fuel pressure. Sure would be nice to figure out the problem.
†I 'm going to pick up a timing light today, I'm not even sure when was the last time I used a timing light. I would guess over 20 years.
†Our ice castle Kentucky opened up for this coming weekend 24th 25th 26th?


Ice fishing tips: Stay safe with the proper gear as you tackle first ice

by Jason Revermann

Cooler nights and accumulating snow have dropped temperatures near freezing, and weíll soon be walking on water again. Take a few steps now to know youíre prepared when ice arrives.

First, pull out all your ice fishing gear and make sure it is ready to go. Rods, reels and tackle are important, but even more important is having the proper safety gear. There are a few items I consider necessities for venturing out on early ice.

For starters, an ice chisel to check ice conditions as I venture out. Having a sharp ice chisel and checking ice thickness as you progress onto the ice is your best line of defense for keeping you safe when moving.

Make sure to have a measuring device to accurately read the thickness as you go. I prefer an ice scoop bent at a 90 degree angle with 1-inch increments marked on the handle. Having a quality chisel and knowing how to use it can keep you out of nearly all disastrous situations. Click†HERE†to check out a video describing how I venture onto early ice.

Additional gear for early ice would be a good set of ice cleats on your boots to assist in walking and keeping you upright. I also choose to wear a floating ice suit that will keep me afloat if I would ever happen to break through. Having a set of ice picks around your neck or in a pocket can be extra insurance to help you get out of the water. Itís also a good idea to keep your cell phone in a waterproof pocket, holder, or in a sealed bag.

That pretty much has you covered but you can also bring a rope and a floating boat cushion to help someone else who wanders onto unsafe ice.

Ice will arrive like it does every winter, but make sure to check conditions as you go.

Good luck fishing and stay safe!


Upper Red Lake walleye regs tightened for winter season

By Minnesota DNR Reports

Anglers fishing during the winter season on Upper Red Lake in northern Minnesota will have a three-walleye bag limit, with only one walleye longer than 17 inches allowed.

Heavy winter fishing over the last four years necessitated more restrictive regulations. Winter angling on Upper Red Lake averaged 1.6 million angler hours with a harvest of 130,000 pounds annually over this period. The new regulations, which become effective Sunday, Nov. 1, lower the possession limit from the four-walleye limits in place during the 2020 open water season and the 2019-2020 winter season.

ďAnglers should remember to bring a good measuring device along with them on their trip to Upper Red Lake,Ē said Andy Thompson, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor with theMinnesota DNR. ďMany walleye will measure just above, and just under, the 17-inch size restriction.Ē

The Red Lake Nation and the Minnesota DNR manage walleye harvest on Red Lake under a joint harvest plan that the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee revised in 2015.

The DNR will determine next yearís open water harvest regulations after the winter fishing season. An Upper Red Lake Citizen Advisory Committee reviews walleye harvest totals and regulation options and provides recommendations for regulations for the state waters of Upper Red Lake.

Upper Red Lake fishing regulations are available at†



My winter fishing has changed in recent years. I used to spend hours staring at my flasher, waiting for ďmarksĒ to appear. I now prefer to actually see whatís going on below the ice, by direct eyesight or through the use of an underwater camera. Whether chasing panfish or larger predator species, sight fishing is a recipe for winter fun!

While I continue to use my Marcum flasher when employing a ďsearch and destroyĒ approach, once Iíve located a hot travel route, Iíll get comfortable inside my portable house and set up for the show. I often have one of my kids fishing with me, as they all love sight fishing. Iíll auger three holes, two to fish through, and one for the camera, a Marcum VS 825SD. Iíll situate the holes in-line so the camera can view both lures.

Panfish Fun
Most often, my sight fishing takes place while targeting panfish. Sunfish and perch are generally active during midday hours, the best time for viewing underwater. These fish are not typically camera shy either. In fact, panfish species will even act curious about the camera. Crappies often become active late in the afternoon and can be caught on camera too.

A great location to set up camp for sunfish and crappies is along the outside edge of a deep weedline, as they often travel these edges. Sunnies and crappies eat small stuff, particularly in winter. NorthlandísBro Bug Jigtied toBionicģ IceorFluorosilkhas been a fine combo for both species. Iíll add a real waxworm or anImpulseģ Helium Waxyflyand jig aggressively until I see fish on the camera. Then, Iíll hold the jig still. At that point the fun begins! Itís a game if eye-hand coordination. Winter sunfish and crappies bite very light in many cases. I set the hook when I see the bait disappear. Even with the aid of a camera, Iíll often miss fish. Many will bite again. It can be quite a cat and mouse game!

For perch, I like to find a flat with active fish before setting up. A small jigging spoon adorned with part of a minnow or a couple waxies is the ticket. Spoons show up well on camera too. Again, Iíll jig aggressively until I see fish on the screen. Then, Iíll just make the spoon quiver. Perch will also pick at the bait but bite multiple times.

Seeing is Believing

The author often sight fishes for winter bluegills and crappies with his kids. Panfish are often curious about his underwater camera. Photo courtesy of Marcum Technologies

Predator Rush
For an adrenaline igniting experience, thereís nothing better on ice than sight fishing for larger predator fish. Pike and walleye can be caught in plain view or on camera.

Iíll target pike on shallow flats, in which case I can often forgo the camera and simply peer down the hole from within my portable shelter. I usually just fish one line also. If I think Iíve found a spot that warrants some time, Iíll cut double holes, two ten inch holes side by side, and then chisel the ice out between them. This gives me a better field of view. When fishing shallow water, itís paramount to keep light from entering the shelter. Iíll bank the edges with snow and tightly close all doors and windows. This makes it easier to see into the water. Fish are less likely to spook as well. My favorite set-up for pike is Northlandís newPredator Rigbaited with a dead smelt or live sucker. This ďquick-strikeĒ presentation is generally reserved for rigging below tip-ups. For sight-fishing however, I rig it on a medium-heavy action spinning rod, spooled with 10 or 15 poundBionicģ Braid. When using dead bait, Iíll occasionally jig the presentation just enough to get the Baitfish Image attractor blades to flutter and reflect light. Pike are weird. One day they will power in and strike viciously. The next day theyíll glide in every so-slowly, nose the bait, and swim away.

Of the different fish species I target on ice, walleyes are the most aggressive. When chasing winter walleyes in clear water, I like to set-up on predetermined hot-spots, discovered over the years. With the camera set up, I use vibrating lures to increase the strike zone and call fish from a distance. TheBuck-Shotģ Rattle Spoonhas been my favorite for years. However, Northlandís newRippin Shad, is getting a lot of play too. Iíve found that sitting tight on a precision spot and using vibrating baits, will at times, produce more walleyes than moving around. For me, sight fishing for walleyes and employing rattling lures compares to stand hunting and rattling for whitetails.

Through sight fishing, with and without the use of an underwater camera, Iíve learned more about fish behavior and had a lot of fun. Seeing is believing!

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A proven pattern for hooking gargantuan pike during early ice

Northland Bionic Bucktail Jig
Yet another tape-measure pike falls to aNorthland Bionic Bucktail Jigand live sucker minnow. This jaw-dropping specimen was caught by Northland Pro Staffer Scott Glorvigen.

Up above, I tiptoe across the frozen shallows maintaining a low profile. Stealth is a big part of the game. Down below, however, itís more like lions in the Coliseum tearing and tossing-down everything with blood running through its veins. Thatís what itís like in early winter when northern pike slash through the shallows with hearty appetites and an equal amount of recklessness.

These apex predators spent most of late autumn roaming the basin, tracking along offshore humps and deeper secondary breaks. With the flip of a switch, though, they head straight for the shallows Ė 4 to 12 feet of water Ė when the surface water solidifies. And thereís no secret to the gravitational pull. Itís about gorging on the bounty of available forage.

Panfish are standard fare. Bluegills, crappies, and perch are already making use of whatever green weeds are left. There, they find food, and, allegedly, sanctuary from threats. Pike disrupt the peace, however, ferreting through cuts and openings, as well as cruising along the edge picking off the careless. Ultimately, panfish only find safety in numbers, some brethren sacrificed for the whole.

On certain lakes and reservoirs the summons comes in the form of whitefish and or tullibee (ciscoes). Their reproductive ritual begins in the late fall and finalizes sometime after first ice. Perfect timing for pike.

So the foodstuffs are up in the shallows, but located randomly. Weeds have already been noted. But make sure your focusing on the greenest and thickest vegetation available. That could mean a lush garden grove. In other situations itís a thick spot amongst an acre of spindly brown weeds. The most reliable weeds are found in shallow bays that are adjacent to the main lake.

River mouths are another natural draw. Pike are suckers for moving water. Suckers, the actual fleshy baitfish, are common there. Take heed that ice quality on and around river mouths is several notches thinner than what the main lake offers.

Although pike activity is at its seasonal peak, there are good, better, and best times to fish. Morning and evening are no-brainers. With that said, historically, Iíve nailed the majority of my larger fish Ė 10-pounds plus Ė during mid to late morning, say from 8 to 11 am. The last hour and a half of the day is next in importance, but a distant second.

Weather is a factor as well. Invariably, I pound more pike on cloudy days than those marked with sunshine. Pike roam more freely. They loosen their range and donít stick as tightly to cover. In response, I spread the field, which means running Frabill tip-ups while maintaining a rigorous jigging schedule. Depending on the stateís legal allotment of lines and how many partners Iím sharing the ice with, it can be half-dozen tip-ups sprinkled about a 200 foot radius.

The only thing that bests cloud cover is cloud cover on the leading edge of imminent precipitation, either snow or one of those bothersome early winter mists. Pike go bonkers before a front.

Now about that tiptoeing and black-ops stealth I mentioned earlierÖ Yes, early winter pike are ferocious feeders. Thatís to your advantage. But on the flipside, youíre operating in shallow water with only a thin veil of early ice. The ice, in fact, is often transparent. To the fish, youíre silhouette is as apparent as the old tire and boulder on the bottom you just walked over. Complicating matters, my preferred technique positions me directly over their heads.

Jigging really scratches their itch, though. When pike are on the move an energetic jig is irresistible.

Pre-drilling puts the angler in position to operate stealthily. Drill your holes 15 minutes to a half hour before show time. To really take advantage of the morning bite, pre-drill in the darkness, before pike take their morning swim.

Northland Bionic Bucktail Jig
Bro says the White Cisco flavoredNorthlandBionic Bucktail Jigaccurately mimics foodstuffs such as whitefish, ciscoes, suckers and lake shiners. Photo courtesy of Northland Fishing Tackle (

Finally, itís fishing time. Lurched over a hole, I ready the rig, which was tied-up the night before. Thereís no finer opening act than an oversized jig fitted with a live sucker minnow, either. My preference is theBionic Bucktail Jigfrom Northland Fishing Tackle. Hand-tied with genuine bucktail, the Bionic Bucktail creates a full-figured and vibrant target. In clear water, I opt for White Cisco, as it mimics most native baitfish. In darker conditions, Yellow Perch is a better choice.

Next comes a 4-inch sucker minnows or chub Ė they are the ideal length and shape for jigging pike. Lip-hook the minnow with the forged single hook. The rear of the jig features a ďstingírĒ hook, a treble tethered by teeth-resistant steel. Donít stick the treble in the baitís posterior. Itís a common practice, but Iíve stung more pike with it floating freely alongside the minnow. My theory is that the lightest part of the rig Ė the stingír in this case Ė is the first to find a pikeís jaw.

The action is more of a swimming and dumbed-down-darting than classic jigging. Donít snap it. Instead, smoothly but confidently pump the jig in 1 to 2-foot motions. Iíll operate from top to bottom in clear conditions. Pike arenít bashful about rising to the underside of the ice. In darker water, Iíve found most fish operate within 4-feet of the bottom.

Not just any old rod will do, either. Put away the panfish stuff. Remember, youíre tangling with muscle-bound fish in a relatively small space. Itís fist to fin combat.

Ice Fishing - Northland Fishing Tackle
Bro opts for the Yellow Perch patternedNorthland Bionic Bucktail Jigwhen fishing stained water or the forage-base is known to consist of perch and or sunfish. Photo courtesy of Northland Fishing Tackle (

A guiding buddy of mine and northern pike nemesis, Paul Nelson, developed a pike-specific rod for Frabill. Itís quite the fish tamer. Found in the Ice Hunter series, the 32-inch, medium-heavy stick yields the perfect balance of a firm but playful tip with the backbone of a brontosaurus.

For battling in tight-quarters I recommend spooling with a superline, not monofilament or fluorocarbon. Youíll appreciate the toughness and resistance to shredding. I look forward to testing the new Performance Fuse from Sufix.

It takes angler skill to bring down fish of this magnitude as well. Expect violent runs and very dynamic directional changes. To win, you must wear the fish out, no horsing it in. Pulling back too hard nearly insures that the jig will tear free. Maintain pressure, letting the drag do what itís designed to do. As a failsafe, I back-reel with the drag-system covering my behind. If the fish runs exceptionally fast, lock down on the handle and the drag takes over Ė beautiful 2-part harmony.

Icing a submarine-sized pike in the shallows isnít like walking and chewing gum. Plan that the fish will appear horizontally Ė wide head in the hole and numerous inches of body tucked beneath ice. Keep the rod loaded, applying constant pressure while turning the fish. Obviously, itís nice having a ďnet manĒ. As the snout rises, prepare for the snatch and grab. Know that youíre going to get wet. In fact, to reduce the risk of breaking off, I take the fish while itís vertical, its movement restricted in the hole. As a bonus, the fish is less likely to flip-out and injure itself.

Once on the ice, itís a quick photo Ė titans only Ė and the head goes back from where it came. Hold and pump the fish a few times until itís self-powered. High-five your partner, or do that faddish knocking fists move, and itís on to another screensaver quality pike.

About the author: Brian ďBroĒ Brosdahl (Max, Minnesota) is a professional fishing guide and renowned ice fishing expert. For nearly two decades heís been sharing his insights and innovations with the fishing public. He can be reached

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