OUTDOORS REPORT: Area fishing and skiing report
Lake of the Woods
A mix of walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch and tullibees is coming off the reefs in 26 to 32 feet of water. The same mixed bag of fish can be had on the mud flats in 16 to 20 feet or 24 to 31 feet. Start working the bays with sucker minnows for northern pike in 6 to 8 feet. Fishing on the Rainy River remains best during the morning and afternoon hours near the mouth of the river. At the Northwest Angle, walleyes, saugers, pike and perch are hitting on the 24- to 29-foot mud/reef transition areas.
According to this week’s report from the Perch Patrol Guide Service, the schools of perch seem to be getting larger, and they recently had a day where 26 clients all had their perch limits by 1 p.m. Perch are hitting in 36 to 48 feet of water, the report said, with most of the fish hitting Northland Buckshot Rattle Spoons and Hali’s tipped with either minnow heads, wax worms or perch eyes. Staying on the move to find active fish is crucial, and it’s still possible to go pretty much anywhere with four-wheel drive trucks, the report said. Access is as good as it’s been in years. Don’t forget the auger extensions, the report advised, or you’ll be in for a long day.
“Slushy icebox,” is how fishing guide Jason Hamilton describes the big Manitoba lake these days. Lots of new snow and the short warm-up early last week have created some difficult conditions, Hamilton said. New pressure ridges and cracks formed, resulting in slush that is 3 feet deep in areas. The recent frigid weather has frozen the slush, Hamilton said, but the next warm-up will result in some potentially dangerous conditions. Fishing adjacent to deeper ice ridges has proved fruitful for suspended walleyes, Hamilton said. Use slower-falling baits to maximize the time in the upper part of the water column. Also, Hamilton said, anglers should make sure the transducer on their electronics is right under the ice and on the widest cone setting to help see fish. Bring straps, anchors for winching and an 18-inch auger extension for the lake.
Upper Red Lake
Fishing for walleyes and pike on Upper Red and other Minnesota inland waters closed Sunday, but there were scattered good walleye reports over the last weekend of fishing for those who were able to get on the lake during the tough weather conditions. Many houses have been pulled off the lake, while others are scrambling to get their houses off before more wind and snow hits.
The main roads on most lakes have drifted over in spots, but if you can find a spot to get off them, you can get around with a truck. Crappie and sunfish action has been slow, likely because the cold weather has kept most people off area lakes. The only bite worth noting is taking place on Lake Bemidji, where perch are hitting on the mud flats in 40 feet of water.
Travel on most lakes is spotty; some plowed roads exist, but you have to look out for drifts off the roads. Gull Lake is giving up crappies and sunfish in 20 to 34 feet of water, and Island Lake continues to produce perch in 8 to 14 feet. On Rabideau Lake, crappies are being found suspended over 20 feet.
It’s very difficult to travel anywhere on the lake without a snowmobile. Last week’s wind closed the roads that did exist, and there hasn’t been much plowing taking place since. The Pine Point area does have a road being kept open, but fishing reports have been limited.
Roads have been plowed to rental houses, but traveling off those roads is difficult in some locations. On the west side, perch action has been very good on top of most of the main-lake bars in 15 feet. Along the south side, the 12-foot shoreline break is providing steady perch action.
This area didn’t receive a lot of snow last week, but the wind did cause most road systems to drift over. Anglers were starting to get out on a limited basis early this week along the weed lines of Little Detroit Lake and Deadshot Bay for panfish. A few people have been locating pods of suspended tullibees over the deepest holes on Long Lake, Loon Lake and Star Lake as well.
Park Rapids area
The area didn’t receive much snow last week, but the wind closed most roads that were being used. At this point, travel is limited to a few lakes including Straight Lake, where bluegills are being found in 12 to 14 feet of water, and Tenth Crow Wing Lake, where crappies and sunfish can be had in 10 to 12 feet.
Downhill skiing report
- Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: 12- to 36-inch base, machine groomed, 2 inches of new snow; skiing and snowboarding hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today (please call ahead because of the subzero temperatures), 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; snow tubing hours 4 to 8 p.m. today (call ahead because of the cold), and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Info: bvskiarea.com.
- Frostfire Ski Area near Walhalla, N.D.: 12- to 25-inch base, “lots” of new snow in the past two weeks, making snow when needed; open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, but checking ahead is advised during the cold snap. Info: frostfireskiarea.com.
Cross-country ski trails
- Turtle River State Park, N.D.: Trails were last groomed Feb. 21, and there are no plans to groom again until new snow falls. Trails are in fair condition, but some spots are poor as snow conditions continue to deteriorate.
- Grahams Island State Park, N.D.: Trails are open and in good condition and were scheduled to be groomed again Thursday; snow depth 20 to 22 inches.
- Icelandic State Park, N.D.: Trails are open and in excellent condition and were scheduled to be groomed again Thursday; snow depth 10 inches.
- Hayes Lake State Park, Minn.: Trails are in poor condition, with a 10-inch base, and likely drifted in open areas; no additional grooming is planned this winter; local snow depth 14 inches.
- Lake Bemidji State Park: Trails were groomed and tracked Sunday and are in excellent condition with an 11-inch base and 10 miles groomed; local snow depth 22 inches.
- Red River South Trail (Grand Forks and Walsh counties): All trails are open but won’t be groomed this weekend because of the cold and wind; 6- to 8-inch base; local snow depth 10 to 12 inches. Info: (701) 328-5377.
- Red River North Trail (Pembina and Walsh counties): All trails are open and will be groomed this weekend; 6-inch base; local snow depth 10 to 12 inches. Info: (701) 328-5377.
- Northeast Trail (Cavalier, Pembina and Walsh counties): Trails are open but no grooming is planned this weekend because of the snow; 5- to 7-inch base; local snow depth 14 to 16 inches. Info: (701) 328-5377.
- Lake Region Trail (Nelson and Ramsey counties): Five of the six trails in the system are open but won’t be groomed this weekend; 6- to 12-inch base; local snow depth 12 to 18 inches. Info: (701) 328-5377.
- Beltrami Island State Forest East: Excellent conditions, with a 14-inch base and 52½ miles groomed; local snow depth 26 inches.
- Hayes Lake State Park, Minn.: Good conditions, with a 7-inch base and six miles groomed; local snow depth 14 inches.
- Lake Bemidji State Park: Excellent conditions with a 9-inch base and three miles groomed; local snow depth 22 inches.