OUTDOOR REPORT: Area fishing, skiing and smowmobiling report
Lake of the Woods
Walleyes continue to be spread out over the mud of Big Traverse Bay in 22 to 24 feet of water or 27 to 30 feet, with the best bite taking place in the afternoon hours and short flurries throughout the day. Good reports are coming from Knight and Bridges islands in 29 to 31 feet, with a lot of small walleyes and saugers in the mix. More fish are heading toward the south shore, staging for the spawning run, so there’s some evening action in shallower water. Tullibees are plentiful in deep water, and northern pike are hitting sucker minnows in 10 to 12 feet.
On the Rainy River, walleye fishing remains consistent near the airport in Baudette, Minn., and Wabanica Church during the evenings in 16 to 19 feet. The Long Sault Rapids near Birchdale, Minn., are starting to open, and there’s open water on the Rainy near the mouth of the Big Fork River, about 22 miles upstream from Birchdale. At the Northwest Angle, walleyes, saugers, perch and pike are biting in 22 to 24 feet. Crappie reports are good for mobile anglers fishing in Ontario waters.
Lake of the Woods Tourism also released a report on the status of ice roads along the south shore:
- Adrians: Open to full-sized vehicles and wheel houses.
- Cyrus: Closed to full-sized vehicles (creek starting to flow); snowmobiles and ATVs only.
- Morris Point: Open to vehicles, closed to wheel houses.
- Zippel Bay: Open and including wheel houses
- Long Point: Open to vehicles, closed to wheel houses.
- Bablers near Rocky Point: Closed to vehicles; snowmobile and ATV only (pressure ridge).
Find the perch, and fishing continues to be “off the charts,” according to the latest report from Perch Patrol Guide Service. The key is locating the fish and staying on them. Ice continues to be more than 40 inches thick, and vehicle travel will remain an option as long as the accesses stay in good shape. As a general rule, look for the perch to be in deeper water, 30 to 45 feet, where small jigging spoons tipped with waxworms, spikes, minnows or minnow heads are the best option for triggering strikes. Look for walleyes in 12 to 20 feet of water early and late in the day and pike in the shallows, where smelt or herring fished below a tip-up is a good bet.
Fish continue to move down the west shoreline of Lake Winnipeg — finally, the shallow-water aggressive walleyes the lake is known for — reports fishing guide Jason Hamilton. Concentrating on depths of 3 to 6 feet of water under the ice around shoreline structure has paid off the past few days, Hamilton said, and rattle baits have been the best producers. Gold and orange seem to be working especially well, Hamilton said, but color plays less of a factor this time of year because the fish are hungry. The snow is saturating, and slush is still a factor, so anyone venturing onto the ice should have a tow rope, a GPS and a compass in case trouble occurs. Hamilton says anglers also need to be aware of fog as the weather warms, making GPS and compass navigation even more important.
Perch are hitting minnows or small jigs tipped with waxworms on the 28- to 42-foot mud areas of Lake Bemidji or in 22 feet on Lake Plantagenet. The deep water off the main-lake bars on Bemidji is producing eelpout, as well. Crappies are suspended over 32 feet on Wolf Lake and over 30 feet in front of the inlet on Big Turtle Lake. On Turtle River Lake, crappies and sunfish are both suspended in 15 to 18 feet.
Bluegill reports have been best off Gull Lake and Pimushe Lake in 14 to 18 feet of water, while crappies are suspended over 20 to 25 feet on Blackduck Lake. Perch action has been best in 5 to 10 feet on Blackduck and Island lakes.
Cass Lake area
The snow has melted enough that vehicle travel is an option on area lakes. Perch action continues to improve on the northeast corner and south-end access areas of Pike Bay in 6 to 8 feet. Perch also are being found on Cass Lake on the north side of Star Island and along the west shore in 6 feet. Look for areas with sand and grass to hold bigger fish.
Perch reports have improved and so have travel conditions throughout the lake. The best action is taking place in 5 to 7 feet north of Cedar Point, Goose Island, Trader’s Bay, the Hardwoods and Duck Point. Finding big numbers of tullibees has been difficult, but a few fish are biting early in the morning in the deep water off Stony Point. A few crappies are being caught in Shingobee Bay, but not consistently.
Look for bigger perch on the main-lake bars in 14 to 18 feet of water or on the shoreline breaks and points along the west side in slightly shallower water. Being mobile and fishing a series of holes has produced better numbers of keeping-sized perch on small jigging spoons and minnow heads.
Look for sunfish and crappies on the outside weed edges of Little Detroit Lake, Deadshot Bay, Floyd Lake, Tamarack Lake and Lake Melissa in 10 to 12 feet of water. Crappies and tullibees are being found suspended over 40 feet or deeper on Long Lake near Vergas, Minn., along with Loon Lake, Lake Sallie and Rose Lake.
Park Rapids area
Look for bluegills in the Mill Pond area on Straight Lake in 12 to 14 feet of water. Fish Hook Lake is giving up bluegills in 10 to 13 feet, while Big Mantrap Lake is producing crappies during evening hour, and most of the fish are suspended over 25 to 28 feet.
Downhill skiing report
- Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: 12- to 36-inch base, groomed, 1 inch of new snow. Skiing and snowboarding hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Snow tubing hours: noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Info: bvskiarea.com.
- Frostfire Ski Area near Walhalla, N.D.: 12- to 25-inch base, all runs open. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Info: frostfireskiarea.com.
- Turtle River State Park near Arvilla, N.D.: Trails are officially closed for the season, as is the warming house. Trails will reopen for summer use once they are dry enough to sustain foot and bike traffic.
- Hayes Lake State Park, Minn.: Trails are in poor condition with a 7-inch base; local snow depth 10 inches.
- Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.: Trails haven’t been groomed since March 4 and are in poor condition, with an 8½-inch base. There have been no skiers on the trails; local snow depth 18 inches.
- Old Mill State Park, Minn.: Trails are open but in poor condition and will not be groomed the rest of the season; 8-inch base; local snow depth 18 inches.
Snowmobile trails report
- Northeast Trail (Cavalier, Pembina and Walsh counties): The Border, Moonlighter Gorge, Nekoma Trailblazers, Gorge Bypass, NESCA, Tri-County and Tetrault Woods trails all are open but no grooming is planned, Snowmobile North Dakota reported Thursday. Elsewhere in northeast North Dakota, the Lake Region, Red River North and Red River South trail systems all are closed for the seasons due to lack of snow. Info: (701) 328-5377 or snowmobilend.org.
- Beltrami Island State Forest East near Baudette, Minn.: Trails are groomed and in good condition with a 14-inch base. Some snow melt has occurred, especially in open areas. Local snow depth 22 inches.
- Big Bog State Recreation Area near Waskish, Minn.: Trail base is still decent with a 12-inch base, and the groomers have been actively maintaining the routes from Waskish to Kelliher, Baudette and Fourtown, Minn. Local snow depth 22 inches.
- Hayes Lake State Park, Minn.: Trail is in fair condition with a 5-inch base and six miles groomed; local snow depth 10 inches.
- Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.: Trails are groomed and in good condition with an 8½-inch base; local snow depth 18 inches.
- Old Mill State Park, Minn.: Trail is groomed and in good condition with an 8-inch base; local snow depth 18 inches.