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OUTDOORS REPORT: Fishing, skiing conditions

Lake of the Woods

Bigger walleyes have started hitting in Lighthouse Gap, a sign that fish are beginning to stage for their spring migration up the Rainy River. There seems to be spurts of action during midday hours and again in the early evening. Other reports for walleyes indicate a decent bite during the morning hours around Garden Island in 22 to 34 feet. Look to the bays for northern pike in 12 to 16 feet. The Rainy River is busting loose and continues to open each day. As of Tuesday morning, there was open water at Mile Marker 169, which is just upstream of Manitou Rapids and 13 miles east of Birchdale, Minn. It's anyone's guess, of course, but open water at Birchdale is a possibility sometime next week.

Devils Lake

Access conditions have started getting sloppy, especially in the afternoon when the sun's had a chance to hit the ice, so anglers venturing out in vehicles should use caution. On the plus side, the warm-up has settled the snow, and getting around is easier once you're out on the ice.

According to the latest report from Ed's Bait Shop, good bets for walleyes include Black Tiger Bay, Stromme Addition, the Spirit Lake Casino area, Mission Bay, Creel Bay and Doc Hagens. Perch fishing has been spotty, but the Woods-Rutten Road and East Bay Campground areas, along with the south end of Black Tiger, the casino area and the mouth of Creel Bay all are good bets, the Ed's report said. The key, as always, is to keep on the move until finding fish.

Lake Irvin's probably the best bet for pike, although the north end of Six-Mile Bay is serving up action, as well, as fish stage to head up Channel A. Smelt or herring fished below tip-ups are the best bet, although jigging with blade baits or Chubby Darters also is worth a shot. Anglers fishing Irvin also are finding the occasional nice walleye or perch, the Ed's report said.

Upper Red Lake

The crappie bite has been nothing spectacular, but you'll find a fish here and there. The fish being caught are coming from four to five miles out of Westwind Resort and Hillman's RV Park in 13 feet of water. Red glow jigs and minnows are working best early and late in the day.

Leech Lake

The perch bite continues to impress with good reports coming off Little Stony Point, Little Hardwoods, Big Hardwoods and Sand Point. Jigging spoons and minnow heads are producing bigger fish in 6 to 8 feet or 10 to 12 feet of water. Crappies continue to be found suspended in Shingobee Bay over 20 to 30 feet.

Lake Winnibigoshish

There's a decent perch bite in 12 to 16 feet during the morning and evening hours along the west shore off Sugar Point and Raven's Point. During midday hours, work deeper -- 28 to 35 feet -- off Sugar Bar, the humps off Raven's and Zoomer's Bar. With the warm weather, be aware that pressure ridges are popping up throughout the lake.

Bemidji area

The panfish bite has been very good in shallow water on most lakes. Look to Big Turtle Lake and Grace Lake for bluegills in 5 to 10 feet. Crappies continue to be found suspended over deep water on Portage Lake, and the grassy flats of Lake Bemidji are kicking out numbers of eelpout. Perch action is going strong on Bemidji in 30 to 40 feet and on Lake Plantagenet in 15 to 25 feet.

Blackduck area

Perch continue to be scattered between 10 and 18 feet of water on Blackduck Lake. With some hole hopping, you'll put together a nice bunch of fish. Crappies and bluegills are hitting in 12 to 18 feet at Gull Lake and Pimushe Lake. Hit Rabideau Lake early and late in the day for bluegills in 10 to 15 feet of water.

Cass Lake area

Crappie action remains strong in 28 to 32 feet at Lost Lake, Rice Lake and Kitchi Lake. Look to Moose Lake and Big Lake for bluegills in 8 to 12 feet. Perch have moved shallow on Cass Lake and Pike Bay; most are hitting minnows in the sand-covered weed areas.

Detroit Lakes

Sunfish are hitting in 10 to 14 feet at Little Detroit Lake, Deadshot Bay, Floyd Lake, Sour Lake and Lake Sallie. Crappies continue to be found suspended on Sour Lake over 20 feet, Lake Sallie over 28 feet, Floyd Lake in 18 feet and Little Detroit Lake in 11 feet. Waxworms and flashers are producing tullibees early and late in the day over 40 to 50 feet of water on Long Lake and Loon Lake.

Area ski report

Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: It's the last weekend of the season at Buena Vista, and conditions still are pretty good. Skiing and snowboarding hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tubing hours: noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Special events: "Try Everything" all weekend, $18 for everything Buena Vista has to offer. "Hawaiian Days" on Saturday and Sunday, with hula and costume contests. "Sunnyside Showdown" competition at 10 a.m. Saturday. Info: (218) 243-2231, toll-free (800) 777-7958 or on the Web at www.bvskiarea.com.

Frostfire Ski Area near Walhalla, N.D.: Base snow depth 30 to 50 inches, all runs are open; tubing area open. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday; rental area opens at 9 a.m. Info: (701) 549-3600 or on the Web at www.frostfireskiarea.com.

N.D. light goose update

The spring light goose migration has made its way into South Dakota, and it shouldn't be too long before some of those find their way into North Dakota, according to the most recent report from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Canada geese arrived last weekend, which is a sure sign that snow geese, which tend to follow the snow line, aren't far behind. There is still plenty of snow covering parts of North Dakota, but warm temperatures will cause snow to quickly dissipate in the south-central portion of the state. The Game and Fish Department will update its report daily once the migration hits full swing. To check out the report, go to www.gf.nd.gov or call (701) 328-3697.

-- Herald staff and wire reports

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. 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.  A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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