OUTDOORS REPORT: Good ice and fishing reports coming from Lake of the Woods and Upper Red Lake
Lake of the Woods
As of early this week, Four-Mile Bay had 9 inches to 11 inches of ice, and the lake north of Pine Island had 11 to 13 inches, Sportsman's Lodge said of the areas where the resort fishes and travels. Anglers venturing out on their own should check with local resorts and bait shops for the most up-to-date conditions.
According to Lake of the Woods Tourism, fishing reports and water clarity are excellent. North of Pine Island, ice is stacked up and very rough in places, so drilling and finding a spot to get an auger through is a must, and auger extensions could even be necessary in places, Lake of the Woods Tourism said.
Walleye and sauger action is steady to excellent, depending on the house and the day, and anglers are sorting through numbers of smaller fish to find keepers.
Up at the Northwest Angle, resorts are reporting 10 inches to 15 inches of ice in the areas where they fish, and fishing is excellent, Lake of the Woods Tourism reports.
Nothing really has changed since last week, and the wait for fishable ice on the main lake continues, Tanner Cherney of the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau said in a video clip on the Visit Devils Lake Facebook page. Anglers continue to fish Lake Irvine and Lake Alice farther north in the basin, where ice thickness ranges from 6 inches to 10 inches, Cherney said. Pockets of open water persist on the main lake, and it will be at least a few days before Devils Lake has safe, fishable ice, Cherney said. As always, anglers venturing out should use extreme caution and think safety first.
Upper Red Lake
West Wind Resort in Waskish, Minn., was set to open its access to half-ton vehicles Thursday, the resort said on its Facebook page. Ice is 13 inches to 14 inches thick on average, and houses of all sizes now are allowed; double- and triple-axle houses still are not recommended. Access roads are in good shape, but the resort asks people not to exceed 20 mph on the ice. West Wind has roads plowed out 2 miles to the west and 2 miles to the southwest. Snow cover on the ice is minimal, so there are plenty of places to get off the road.
Walleye action has been decent, with many limits coming in, West Wind said. Some anglers report action throughout the day, but the best fishing, overall, seems to be right before and after dark in 7 feet to 9 feet of water. Jigging spoons tipped with a minnow have been a top producer.
As most people have come to realize, the Bemidji area has been in a weather bubble that's been very conducive to ice fishing, according to Matt Breuer of Northcountry Guides and Promotions. Early cold snaps and storms that missed the region allowed great ice to form. Aside from some big waters that were affected by strong winds, most area lakes are in great shape, Breuer said, and there's 5 inches to 12 inches of ice on any given lake in the area.
Walleye and perch fishing has been fantastic for the anglers venturing out to good areas, Breuer said. Lots of anglers continue to hit Upper Red Lake, but the local walleye factories closer to Bemidji are seeing more activity, as well, Breuer said. The sharp breaks on Lake Bemidji have been productive in 17 feet to 24 feet of water, he said.
Panfishing remains "out of this world," Breuer said. Better-known "community" lakes are getting hit pretty hard, he said, but the fish are still eating. Anglers who can venture off to some of the smaller, lesser-known lakes might stumble into a trophy.
Fresh snowfall may delay ice growth a bit, but there's a solid foundation. Northcountry will be putting its rental houses on the ice after Christmas, Breuer said. Until then, private snowmobile trips to remote lakes will continue, he said.
Area ski report
• Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: 12- to 24-inch base, 4 inches of new snow as of Dec. 11, making snow. Skiing and snowboarding hours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, and Sunday, Dec. 17. Info: bvskiarea or (218) 243-2231.
• Detroit Mountain near Detroit Lakes, Minn.: 12- to 34-inch base, 1 inch of new snow in the past 24 hours reported Dec. 12 and 2 inches in the previous 7 days, making snow. Info: detroitmountain.com or (218) 844-7669.
-- Herald staff reports