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Outdoor Report: Suspended walleyes attract attention on Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods

Anglers are encountering walleyes suspended 10 feet to 15 feet below the ice, and sonar units are essential to seeing the fish and getting them to bite, Lake of the Woods Tourism reports. Anglers have reported a good bite in the main basin of Big Traverse Bay in 29 feet to 33 feet of water for a combination of walleyes and saugers. The anglers working a jigging spoon with a rattle on one line and a dead stick presentation on the other are having the best results, the report indicated. The best colors continue to be glow red, pink and gold on jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head or tail. Anglers also are encountering the occasional jumbo perch in some areas depending on the day.

Farther north, good reports continue to come from the Northwest Angle. Flyers, Buckshot Rattle Spoons, Rippin Raps, Pink Charmers or flutter spoons tipped with a minnow head or tail are working well, and glow pink and gold remain the best colors. In Minnesota waters, look for walleyes in 13 feet to 20 feet of water during the morning and evening hours, while 22 to 30 feet of water away from structure remains the best bet during the middle of the day.

Look for walleyes in 25 feet or deeper and crappies in 30-plus feet in Ontario waters.

On the west side of the lake, the annual Springsteel Resort and Warroad Chamber of Commerce Fishing Derby is set for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Springsteel Resort north of Warroad, Minn. Tickets cost $20, and the event features cash prizes for the four largest walleyes, pike and perch along with $200 for the largest burbot. Numerous other prizes also will be awarded. More info: visitwarroad.com.

Devils Lake

Access and travel on the lake has improved, Devils Lake Tourism reports in its latest update. Many anglers continue to use snowmobiles and tracked vehicles to move around.

Perch action picked up with the arrival of stable weather, and anglers have reported catching fish everywhere from shallow mud flats to deep basins in more than 35 feet of water, the report said. Perch can be finicky, at times, and the key, as always, is to drill a lot of holes in pursuit of the most active fish. The best walleye bite is occurring during the early morning and late afternoon hours, the report said, but anglers also are finding the occasional walleye mixed in when perch fishing in deeper water. Areas with structure such as rocks, trees, sunken roads and old shorelines are the best bets for encountering walleyes, and rattle spoons, especially with glow or ultraviolet colors, can increase the odds of catching fish during low light conditions, Devils Lake Tourism said.

Upper Red Lake

Walleye fishing has been steady but still on the slow side, West Wind Resort in Waskish, Minn., reports in its latest update. A few days last week produced a good bite with several limits, the report said, but fluctuating weather appears to have affected the fishing since then.

Most days have produced decent fishing after dark, and early morning before sunup also has proven to be a good time to pick up a few fish. The bite is very light, West Wind reports, so anglers should use a small presentation with a minnow head. Bright colors such as pink, red and orange are top choices.

The ice conditions as of midweek were great, the report said. There is about 12 inches of snow on top of more than 2 feet of ice. West Wind has a bridge over a crack on the lake about 1½ miles from shore, and its plowed road goes out nearly 5 miles and is in good shape, the report said.

Fishing for walleyes and northern pike on Upper Red and other Minnesota inland waters closes Sunday, Feb. 26.

Bemidji area

Walleye fishing has been spotty on most lakes, reports Paul Nelson of Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. Anglers have been catching a few walleyes in the morning and evenings on lakes such as Bemidji, Blackduck, Cass, Leech Lake, Upper Red Lake and Winnibigoshish. Perch have been hitting on many of the same lakes as the walleyes, Nelson said. For anglers in search of something different, eelpout fishing has improved since the February full moon, Nelson said. Look for that fishing to continue improving as eelpout, which spawn under the ice, enter the pre-spawn time when they are most active, Nelson said. Best 'pout action typically begins about sunset, and larger lakes such as Bemidji, Cass and Leech all are good bets for eelpout. The 38th Annual Eelpout Festival is set for Feb. 23-26 on Leech Lake near Walker, Minn.

Area trails update

• Grand Forks Greenway: The warm snap likely will result in deteriorating trail conditions if it hasn't already. The 10th Annual Frozen Feat 5K and 10K race is set for Saturday. The 10K race will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the 5K to follow at 9:30 a.m. Info/registration: frozenfeat.com.

• Turtle River State Park near Arvilla, N.D.: Ski trails are open and in fair condition and slated to be groomed today.

• Grahams Island State Park near Devils Lake: Trails are open and in fair condition with next grooming set for Feb. 24.

• Icelandic State Park near Cavalier, N.D.: Trails are open and in good condition and had been scheduled to be groomed Tuesday.

• Hayes Lake State Park near Roseau, Minn.: Ski trails were groomed Saturday and are in excellent condition, and the snowmobile trail was groomed midweek and is in excellent condition. Local snow depth is 17 inches.

• Lake Bemidji State Park: Ski trails are groomed and in excellent condition with a 6-inch base, and snowmobile trails are in similar condition. Local snow depth is 16 inches.

Ski report

• Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: 24- to 40-inch base, machine groomed, 5 inches of new snow in the past seven days. Skiing and snowboarding hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; snowboarding hours 4 to 8 p.m. today and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Info: bvskiarea.com.

• Detroit Mountain near Detroit Lakes, Minn.: 18- to 38-inch base, machine groomed; detroitmountain.com.

-- Herald staff report

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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