OUTDOORS REPORT: Area fishing, skiing report
Lake of the Woods
Limits of walleyes and saugers continue to be caught in 19 to 24 feet of water along the south shore. Jigging spoons and setlines both are providing steady action. Northern pike are being taken on tip-ups in 9 to 15 feet of water in Four-Mile Bay, Zippel Bay and the Bostic Creek area. Farther west, fishing in the Rocky Point area has been good in 26 to 28 feet of water between Twin Rocks and Twin Islands.
Sportsman's Lodge in its Thursday report said Adrian's Resort, which maintains the ice road near Wheeler's Point, continues to limit traffic to ATVs and snowmobiles. There's 10 to 11 inches of ice on Four-Mile Bay and 11½ to 14 inches on the lake north of Pine Island. The heavy snow that fell a couple of weeks ago has slowed the ice-making process.
In the Northwest Angle area, good walleye fishing is being reported in 21 to 23 feet of water, with the best action from 8 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. The ice road from Young's Bay to Oak Island was plowed for the first time Wednesday, but vehicles aren't recommended for another four to five days until the ice gains a few more inches. There's 10 to 15 inches of ice in traveled areas and 14 to 15 inches of snow.
Perch and walleye action has been good, reports John Adams of Big John's Guide Service; perch limits were reported last weekend and early this week. The lake has 15 to 18 inches of ice, and anglers are getting around in pickups and other larger vehicles.
Reports are vague about the best areas and depths to fish, but Woodland Resort earlier this week said anglers had been doing well in its rental houses, which are located in Creel Bay. The key on Devils Lake, especially with perch, is to stay on the move to find active fish and keep on them once they're located.
Upper Red Lake
Walleye action has improved the past couple of days, with best action coming from 8½ to 11 feet of water depending on the time of day, according to West Wind Resort in Waskish, Minn. Deeper during the day and shallower at night has been the general rule, the report said.
There's also been a good bite during the overnight hours on setlines with minnows fished below rattle reels, according to reports from anglers staying on the ice in sleeper houses. Jigging spoons tipped with minnows or minnow heads also are producing fish.
It's been a slow process, but resorts and ice road operators are beginning to allow limited vehicle traffic. Ice thickness averages 12 inches with 8 inches of snow on top. West Wind has opened its lake access to vehicles no bigger than a half-ton and single-axle wheel houses, and anglers should be aware of a bridge the resort built to cross a crack about one-fourth mile from shore. The key is to travel slowly -- no more than 15 mph.
Elsewhere, Rogers on Red along the south shore reports it now is allowing half- and three-quarter-ton pickups onto the ice but wheel houses will not be allowed until ice conditions improve. Beacon Harbor Resort north of Waskish reports it has a road plowed out to about 1½ miles from shore in 10 feet of water, but it isn't yet allowing vehicle or wheel house traffic to access the road.
Red River/Lake Winnipeg
The Canadian side of the Red River is still putting out some nice "greenback" walleyes closer to Lockport, Man., reports fishing guide Jason Hamilton. With the cold weather of the past week, Hamilton said Lake Winnipeg now has more than 20 inches of ice in many locations, and the least he has found was 12 inches. Walleye action has been "hit and miss" on both the east and west sides of Lake Winnipeg, Hamilton said, likely limited by the prevalence of rough ice that is cutting off access to a number of areas. Walleyes have been coming shallow at dawn and dusk, Hamilton said, while the midday bite has been in 10 to 12 feet of water. A "one-two punch" of one angler ripping a rattle bait while the other more subtly jigs another rattle bait tipped with a live minnow has been putting "big green" on the ice, Hamilton said.
There's a lot of snow and a lot of slush on the ice, making travel difficult on most lakes in the immediate area. Blackduck Lake is seeing ATV traffic, and it is producing walleyes and perch in 8 to 12 feet of water.
Cass Lake area
There's 8 inches of ice on the main portion of many lakes, but slush and deep snow is making travel difficult. Cass Lake is giving up a few walleyes during the evening hours in 12 feet of water and northern pike on sucker minnows along the shallow weed lines.
Fishing action has been limited, as anglers have just started moving around a little bit on the lake, which was hammered by heavy snowfall shortly after freeze-up. Walking out is an option in Walker Bay, where 4 to 6 inches of ice is reported. As much as 10 inches of ice has been found on some portions of the main lake, but snow and slush are limiting travel.
Perch are scattered but active, and anglers who do a lot of hole hopping are putting together limits of good-sized fish in 9 feet of water along the west side of the lake. Spearing for pike also has been good on the west shore, and a few anglers are hitting the main-lake humps for walleyes in 30 feet. Ice is 8 to 9 inches thick, on average, with more in some spots, but snowmobiles and ATVs remain the best modes of transportation.
Park Rapids area
Walleyes are hitting rainbow minnows in 18 feet of water on Fish Hook Lake and out from the east access on Potato Lake in 18 to 20 feet. The Mill Pond area on Straight Lake is worth noting for bluegills in 12 to 14 feet of water. Deep snow and pockets of slush continue to limit travel on area lakes. Snowmobiles remain the best bet.
Walleyes are hitting shiner minnows in 18 to 21 feet of water on lakes Melissa, Sallie, Deadshot Bay, Little Detroit, Big Detroit, Big Cormorant and Little Cormorant. Crappies and sunfish are hanging on the 12-foot weed lines of Little Detroit, Deadshot Bay, Melissa, Sallie, Severson Lake and Floyd Lake. Eight to 14 inches of ice is being found on area lakes.
Downhill skiing report
• Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: 12- to 36-inch base, packed powder, 3 inches of new snow Sunday, snow tubing remains closed. Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. Info: bvskiarea.com.
• Frostfire Ski Area near Walhalla, N.D.: 12- to 15-inch base on open runs, daily dustings of new snow. Open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily beginning Saturday through Jan. 5, except Christmas Day when closed. Info: frostfireskiarea.com.
Cross-country skiing report
• Turtle River State Park, N.D.: All four loops (Timber, Fisher, ECO, Whitetail) were groomed Tuesday and are in fair condition; local snow depth 8 to 14 inches.
• Grahams Island State Park, N.D.: Trails are open and in good condition, 1 inch of new snow; local snow depth 10 to 12 inches.
• Icelandic State Park, N.D.: Trails are open and in good condition; local snow depth 4 to 5 inches.
• Hayes Lake State Park, Minn.: Fair conditions, 1-inch base, six miles groomed, a few bare spots in open areas; local snow depth 8 inches.
• Itasca State Park, Minn.: Good skiing conditions, with 3-inch base and 21 miles groomed; local snow depth 12 inches.
• Lake Bemidji State Park: Excellent skiing conditions, 8-inch base, 10 miles groomed; local snow depth 18 inches.
• Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.: Fair to good skiing conditions with a few bare spots, 2½-inch base, seven miles groomed; local snow depth 11 inches.
• Old Mill State Park, Minn.: Trails were groomed Wednesday and are in fair condition, 2-inch base, six miles groomed; local snow depth 11 inches.
Snowmobile trails report
• Beltrami Island State Forest South: Fair conditions, 5- to 6-inch trail base, groomed; local snow depth 10 to 12 inches.
• Hayes Lake State Park, Minn.: Snowmobile trails are being used by a few locals but aren't yet groomed; local snow depth 8 inches.
• Itasca State Park, Minn.: Trails were groomed Wednesday afternoon and are in good condition for the snow depth; local snow depth 12 inches.
• Lake Bemidji State Park: Very good snowmobiling conditions, 8-inch base, three miles groomed; local snow depth 18 inches.
• Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.: Trails aren't yet groomed but are in fair condition; local snow depth 11 inches.
• Northeast North Dakota: Trails don't appear to be open, based on the Snowmobile North Dakota website, which hasn't updated its trails report since April 2. Info: snowmobilend.org.