OUTDOORS REPORT: Area fishing, skiing report
Lake of the Woods
Walleye and sauger action has been best during the morning and late afternoon hours in 22 to 30 feet of water along the south shore. Roads are plowed with some vehicle traffic being allowed, but stick to the roads being maintained by resorts. At the Northwest Angle, walleyes, saugers and the occasional jumbo perch and northern pike are hitting in 19 to 24 feet with the best fishing from 8 to 10 a.m. and afternoons from about 2:30 to 5 p.m.
Best perch action is coming from 28 to 34 feet of water, while walleyes are most active on flooded structure such as points and humps, according to the latest report from the Perch Patrol Guide Service. Fish are hitting jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads. Some days are better than others, but overall, the report hasn't changed much in the past week.
The relentless cold snap has resulted in conditions that are more like midwinter, and the ice now is 26 to 30 inches thick, according to fishing guide Jason Hamilton. Cracks are still opening with weather and wind changes, Hamilton said, but overall, the lake is locked up solid. Anglers are finding walleyes in clear water sections of the south and east shores in 8 to 15 feet of water, Hamilton said. Hot baits continue to be rattle baits, darters and spoons. On the coldest days, don't overlook a live minnow tail hooked on a small rattle bait, Hamilton said. Be aware of weather conditions and plan accordingly with extra fuel, propane and warm clothes should an equipment breakdown occur. Forecasts of as much as 8 inches of new snow in the next few days likely will end any easy truck travel, Hamilton said.
Upper Red Lake
Limits of walleyes continue to be caught along most shorelines in 8 to 14 feet of water. Setlines and spoons are producing fish, and there have been quite a few walleyes caught at night on rattle reels. Some bigger northern pike have started showing up in the same areas walleyes are being caught.
Lake Bemidji is kicking out walleyes in 12 to 23 feet of water, as is Lake Plantagenet in 18 to 23 feet. Look for crappies during the evening hours on Big Bass Lake in 14 feet and Walker Brook Lake in 12 to 16 feet. Northern pike action has been best on Lake Andrusia in 6 to 10 feet. Slush continues to limit where anglers can go on most lakes.
Small jigging spoons and minnow heads are triggering walleyes and good-sized perch on Island Lake and Blackduck Lake in 8 to 12 feet of water. Rabideau Lake continues to produce bluegills in 15 to 18 feet, and crappies are suspended over 20 to 32 feet on Gilstead Lake.
Cass Lake area
Slush continues to limit travel to ATVs and snowmobiles, but anglers are starting to move around. The first break from shore, in about 15 feet of water, is producing walleyes on Pike Bay and Cass Lake. You'll find a few perch mixed in, but better perch reports are from 6 to 8 feet on Cass. Allen's Bay on Cass is worth noting for pike.
Ice conditions have started to improve in the bays, but the big part of the lake still has a lot of slush, which means snowmobiles are the only means of transportation. The humps in Walker Bay are kicking out walleyes in 25 to 32 feet of water during low-light periods. Reports from the main lake are still limited, mainly because of poor travel conditions.
Perch reports have been best off the west shoreline in 4 to 10 feet of water. Spearing and angling have been strong throughout the lake in less than 12 feet. Pockets of slush remain, but anglers are moving around with ATVs and some light vehicles.
Walleyes are hitting spoons or dead sticks and shiner minnows over 18 to 20 feet of water on lakes Sallie, Melissa, Big Detroit, Big Cormorant and Little Cormorant. Crappies are active during low-light periods in 12 to 18 feet on Little Detroit Lake, Deadshot Bay, Melissa and Little Cormorant. Big Cormorant, Deadshot Bay, Floyd Lake, Little Detroit Lake and Sour Lake are giving up bluegills in 6 to 12 feet.
Park Rapids area
Walleye action has been best on Fish Hook Lake in 18 to 21 feet of water or Long Lake in 18 feet. Northern pike are hitting sucker minnows in 14 feet on Potato Lake and Big Mantrap Lake. The Mill Pond area on Straight Lake is giving up bluegills in 12 feet, and anglers are finding crappies suspended over 30 feet of water on the Crow Wing Chain.
Downhill skiing report
n Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: 12- to 36-inch base, groomed. Skiing and snowboarding hours: 4 to 8 p.m. today, 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. Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Info: bvskiarea.com.
n Frostfire Ski Area near Walhalla, N.D.: 12- to 15-inch base on open runs with daily dustings of new snow, making snow constantly when weather permits to finish terrain park. Open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Sunday. Info: frostfireskiarea.com.
Cross-country skiing report
• Grand Forks Greenway: Cross-country ski trails were groomed Dec. 27, according to the most recent update on the Greenway's Facebook page; the trails reportedly were in great shape except for a couple of bare spots. Free skates, cross-country skis and snowshoes (mostly children's sizes) are available for use at the Lincoln Drive Park warming house.
• Turtle River State Park near Arvilla, N.D.: Trails are in good condition and were groomed Dec. 27; local snow depth 8 to 14 inches.
• Grahams Island State Park near Devils Lake: Trails are in good condition with 3 inches of new snow and are scheduled to be groomed again today; local snow depth 15 to 20 inches.
• Icelandic State Park near Cavalier, N.D.: Trails are open and in good condition and were groomed Tuesday; local snow depth 4 to 6 inches.
• Hayes Lake State Park near Roseau, Minn.: Ski trails last were groomed Dec. 17, and there are some bare spots in open areas; local snow depth 8 inches.
• Lake Bronson State Park near Lake Bronson, Minn.: Ski trails were groomed Monday and are in very good condition; local snow depth 11 inches.
• Old Mill State Park, Minn.: Trails are groomed and in very good condition with a 3-inch base; local snow depth 11 inches.
• Zippel Bay State Park, Minn.: Trails are groomed and in good condition with a 7-inch base; local snow depth 16 inches.
Snowmobile trails report
• Red River North Trail (Pembina and Walsh counties): Trails are open and may be groomed this weekend, depending on the weather and temperatures; conditions are good; snowmobilend.org.
• Red River South Trail (Grand Forks and Walsh counties): Trails remain closed from lack of snow along parts of the trail; snowmobilend.org.
• North Central Trail (Benson, McHenry, Pierce, Ramsey and Towner counties): Trails were being groomed Thursday and a full report should be available today at snowmobilend.org; 3-inch base; local snow depth 12 inches.
• Lake Region Trail: (Nelson and Ramsey counties): Trails were being groomed Thursday and a full report should be available today at snowmobilend.org; 3-inch base; 1 inch of new snow; total snow depth 13 inches.
• Northeast Trail (Cavalier, Pembina and Walsh counties): Trails remain closed from lack of snow; snowmobilend.org.
• Beltrami Island State Forest-east near Baudette, Minn.: Trail is groomed and in good condition; local snow depth 12 inches. The trails from Wheeler's Point to Oak Island on Lake of the Woods and from Wheeler's Point to Warroad, Minn., are scheduled to be groomed this week.
• Hayes Lake State Park near Roseau, Minn.: A few locals are using the trails, which are not yet groomed; local snow depth 8 inches.
• Lake Bronson State Park near Lake Bronson, Minn.: Trails are in fair condition, but grooming status is uncertain; local snow depth 11 inches.
• Zippel Bay State Park, Minn.: Trail is groomed and in good condition; local snow depth 16 inches.