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AREA FISHING REPORT: Ice fishing getting underway across the region

An employee from Sportsman's Lodge on Lake of the Woods uses a chainsaw to check the thickness of the ice Saturday, Nov. 24 near Pine Island. Ice fishing is getting underway for the winter season on Lake of the Woods and elsewhere in the region. (Photo courtesy of Lake of the Woods Tourism)

Lake of the Woods

Resorts along the south shore are pulling rental houses onto the lake, and many either are fishing already or will begin the winter season in the next few days, Lake of the Woods Tourism reports. As always with early ice, caution is the buzzword. Some parts of the lake have a foot of ice, while ice nearby is thinner, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. The best advice is to stay on trails that area resorts have checked and marked with stakes.

Water clarity is good, and great walleye reports are coming from 17 to 25 feet of water, Lake of the Woods Tourism says.

Up at the Northwest Angle, the lake is locked with ice, but there's more current than normal. Some of the resorts have begun ice fishing, and anglers should stay on marked trails if venturing out on their own.

Devils Lake

Ice conditions are good, especially for this time of year. Creel Bay has about 8 inches of ice, on average, Kyle Blanchfield of Woodland Resort said Thursday. There's even more ice on the small upper basin lakes, he said. As always, anglers should use caution near current areas and cracks, as ice conditions this time of year can vary greatly.

The resort currently is looking at having its rental houses on the ice by Dec. 10 but will decide this coming week whether that can happen even earlier, Blanchfield said.

Actual fishing reports are hard to come by, but there have been anecdotal reports of anglers catching a few perch and walleyes in various places.

Upper Red Lake

Walleye fishing has been very good, with best action in 8 to 10 feet of water on gold or red jigging spoons, West Wind Resort in Waskish, Minn., reports. Anglers have been encountering a fair number of walleyes larger than 17 inches, the report said. As of Tuesday, ice on the east side of Upper Red Lake was 7 to 8 inches thick, according to the West Wind report. The resort was dealing with a small pressure ridge about three-fourths of a mile from shore, so anglers were advised to watch for the markers. The resort this weekend will start allowing snowmobiles, ATVs and side-by-side vehicles onto the lake at its access, along with small, single-axle fish houses that can be pulled out with ATVs. Anglers should use caution when venturing off the beaten path, the report advised, because cracks can form and move with little to no warning.

Bemidji area

Lakes in the Bemidji area continue to make good ice, reports Dick Beardsley of Dick Beardsley Fishing Guide Service. Small- to medium-size lakes have 7 to 9 inches of ice, and the bigger lakes such as Lake Bemidji have 3 to 7 inches, he said. Anglers are starting to use ATVs on some of the lakes now, Beardsley said.

Crappies and bluegills have provided the best action, Beardsley says. Anglers should look to deeper basins for the crappies and cabbage weed for bluegills and a few crappies. Pike action also has been good along the weedlines, he said. Lakes Irving and Plantagenet have been giving up a few walleyes and perch.

Area ski report

• Buena Vista Ski Area near Bemidji: Machine groomed, 12- to 18-inch base, no new snow in the past seven days, making snow. Skiing and snowboarding hours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Info: bvskiarea.com.

• Detroit Mountain Recreation Area near Detroit Lakes, Minn.: Variable conditions, 6- to 24-inch base, 6 inches of new snow in the past seven days as of last update Nov. 19, making snow. Info: detroitmountain.com.

-- Herald staff reports

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