AREA HUNTING AND FISHING REPORT: Mixed waterfowl results in Devils Lake
LAKE OF THE WOODS
The best fishing right now is in and outside of the Lighthouse Gap area, Morris Point and Zippel Bay. A jig and shiner minnow has been most productive in 16 to 26 feet of water. The water temperature on the Rainy River near Wheeler's Point was 46.6 degrees Thursday morning, and the fall shiner run should continue to improve as water temperatures cool.
There haven't been many people fishing the past week, but those who venture out are having success. According to Devils Lake fishing guide Mark Bry, the key is to focus on areas with current and fish either live-bait rigs or jig vertically with minnows in 15 to 28 feet of water. Most of the walleyes are "eaters," Bry said, with the occasional larger fish. Drop-offs that lead into shallow bays also are worth exploring, as a lot of fish are holding on the deeper edges of those areas, Bry said -- usually right on the drop-off. Bry suggests starting in 10 feet of water and working out to as deep as 24 feet.
UPPER RED LAKE
There hasn't been any fishing on the big lake because of strong winds since last week. Once it settles down, a jig and minnow should provide steady walleye action along the shorelines in 4 to 7 feet of water. Hunting reports have been good, with decent grouse numbers and a few more ducks and geese moving into the area.
Walleyes are biting when the wind isn't keeping people off the lakes. A jig and minnow is a good bet for walleyes on Lake Bemidji in 20 feet and Lake Plantagenet in 15 to 18 feet. On Cass Lake, look for walleyes scattered on the breaks from 6 to 30 feet of water. Muskie activity also has been hampered by the wind, but look to Bemidji and Plantagenet in shallow water. There's been a definite push of diver ducks into the area, and grouse hunting reports have been favorable.
Crankbaits or a jig and minnow are producing walleyes in 8 to 12 feet of water on Blackduck Lake. Look to Island Lake for walleyes in 11 to 16 feet, and Gull Lake is kicking out bluegills on the 10-foot weedlines. Duck hunters are seeing more divers in the area, and grouse hunting has been good in select spots -- there seem to be pockets of birds to be had.
The jig-and-minnow bite has started on the wind-driven points in 6 to 10 feet of water. Depending on wind direction, Pine, Stony, Little Stony and the Hardwoods all are points holding fish. Muskie reports have been minimal, duck hunters aren't seeing much for new birds in the area, and grouse hunting has been decent for people who get off the main trails.
The wind kept most people off the lake last weekend, so reports have been limited. Once the weather calms down, look for walleyes on the points and shoreline breaks in 6 to 9 feet of water. A jig and minnow will work best, and the same areas should give up perch.
Before the strong winds arrived, anglers were catching walleyes with minnows in 15 to 30 feet of water on Lake Melissa, Pelican Lake and Big Cormorant Lake. Crappies are suspended over 20 to 25 feet of water on lakes Melissa, Severson and Big Floyd. Large sucker minnows are producing muskies on Big Detroit, and duck hunting has slightly improved with the recent influx of a few new birds into the area.
AREA WATERFOWL UPDATE
- Devils Lake area: The week was a mixed bag of results for waterfowl hunters in the Lake Region, reports Mark Fisher, biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Devils Lake. Some hunters did very well with limits; others had very poor luck. Mallard numbers seemed to have peaked for now, he said, but the birds remain scattered throughout the area. Manitoba and Saskatchewan still report huge concentrations of mallards, pintails and snow geese. Snow goose hunters are finally finding birds in good numbers in the Lake Region, Fisher said, as tens of thousands of snows seem to have migrated into the area last weekend. Large Canada goose and tundra swan prospects remain very good, Fisher said, as does diver duck hunting for lesser scaup, redheads and canvasbacks. Many of the "other" dabbler numbers in the area are dropping, and hunters hoping to bag gadwall and blue-winged teal are having tough luck, as many of these species are moving out of the area daily. Corn harvest remains well underway, water conditions still are excellent, and area wetlands still have little or no ice. That can change overnight, Fisher said, so hunters should check weather reports daily.
- Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area near Middle River, Minn.: Aerial surveys the past two weeks have shown duck numbers to be relatively steady. Ring-necked ducks again are most abundant, while dabbler numbers have fluctuated. Some scaup are present, but not in big numbers. Lots of swans are present, and Canada geese are steady. Thief Lake had 1,000 Canada geese Wednesday, down from 1,400 at last count, and 8,500 ducks, down from 7,000 at last count. Thief Lake's water level is 6 inches below target.
- Roseau River WMA near Pinecreek, Minn: The water level on all three pools remains 6 to 12 inches below full pool, and access to all pools is good. The Roseau River is still very low, and navigating a boat on the river is problematic at best. There has been no sign of any significant push of new birds into the area, and Canada goose numbers are fair to poor. Wednesday's aerial survey tallied 100 Canada geese, down from 350 at last count, and 1,000 ducks, up from 350 at last count.