Lake of the Woods

Ice conditions along the south shore of Lake of the Woods were excellent as of early this week, Lake of the Woods Tourism reported Monday, Jan. 13, in its weekly update. Fishing has been “up and down” with the recent cold fronts, but anglers are catching plenty of walleyes and saugers for fish fries, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. The catch also has included some trophy walleyes, big sturgeon, jumbo perch, an occasional pike, crappie or tullibee and plenty of saugers. Most anglers are fishing in 25 feet to 30 feet of water if they’re on structure and 30 to 36 feet of water if they’re fishing over mud-bottom areas. Resort houses continue to follow fish and are moving constantly.

Up at the Northwest Angle, good fishing continues with a mix of walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, pike and eelpout, Lake of the Woods Tourism said. Cold fronts can affect the bite from day to day, so anglers should adjust to the mood of the fish by downsizing if fish are finicky and keeping an active minnow on a bobber line or other deadstick presentation.

Devils Lake

“Up and down” also describes fishing on Devils Lake, Mark Bry, of Bry’s Guide Service and Fish Rehab Lodge, reported Thursday, Jan. 16. Walleyes have provided the most consistent action for anglers targeting deeper rocks in 20 feet to 26 feet of water during the morning and evening hours, Bry said. Shallower structure such as flooded timber, humps and weedlines also has produced fish. Jigging spoons such as the old standby Northland Buckshot Rattle Spoon have produced the best results, Bry said, although a subtle deadstick or bobber presentation has worked well, at times, too.

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Guides have had to keep on the move and work hard to stay on the perch, Bry said, and depths have varied from 20 feet to 40 feet of water. The key is drilling lots of holes and moving until finding active fish. Dropper rigs, tungsten jigs, Halis or smaller Buckshot Rattle Spoons all have worked well, Bry said. Medium-sized perch have been most abundant, he said, although the occasional jumbo perch is showing up, as well.

Pike action has been good for larger fish, Bry said. Angling and spearing both have produced many pike over 40 inches, he said, including a 45-inch behemoth caught recently. Much of the best pike water is stirred up right now, so catching numbers of pike is tricky because they are a sight-feeding fish. Look for that to change as water clarity improves.

Bemidji

Snow and slush conditions were beginning to improve on Bemidji-area lakes, but another 8 to 10 inches of snow has fallen in recent days, and more is in the forecast going into the weekend, according to Dick Beardsley of Dick Beardsley Fishing Guide Service. Anglers who can get to a spot on Lake Bemidji will catch some walleyes and perch on jigging spoons and minnow heads in 28 to 32 feet of water, Beardsley said, but getting around is a challenge, and vehicle traffic is impossible because of the snow and slush on the ice. Snowmobiles are a possibility, Beardsley said, but even then, anglers need to be on the alert for pockets of slush. Snowshoes are an option for ambitious anglers, but that’s a lot of work, Beardsley said.

Downhill skiing report

  • Buena Vista Ski Area, Bemidji: 24- to 48-inch base, packed powder; 3 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours as of Thursday, Jan. 16; not making snow. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18-19; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20. Calling ahead is recommended in case of bad weather this weekend. Info: bvskiarea.com.

  • Frostfire Park Ski Resort near Walhalla, N.D.: Ski hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, through Monday, Jan. 20. More info: (701) 549-3600 or frostfirepark.org.

Area trails report

  • Turtle River State Park: Park staff were packing trails Wednesday, Jan. 15, to set a base over ice-crusted snow, the park reported on its Facebook page. Plans are on the works to track next week, depending on this weekend’s snowfall total.

  • Big Bog State Recreation Area, Waskish, Minn.: Very good snowmobiling conditions, with a 7-inch base and 10 miles groomed; local snow depth 27 inches.

  • Hayes Lake State Park near Roseau, Minn.: There will be no groomed ski trails this winter, but ungroomed trails will be open for snowshoeing. Snowmobile conditions are good, with a 4-inch base and 6 miles groomed; local snow depth 9 inches as of last report Jan. 9.

  • Itasca State Park, Minn.: Very good skiing conditions with a 5-plus-inch base and 13 miles groomed. Very good snowmobiling conditions, with a 4- to 6-inch base and 31 miles groomed; local snow depth 25 inches.

  • Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.: Fair skiing conditions. Good snowmobiling conditions, with a 6-inch base and 3 miles groomed; local snow depth 12 inches.

  • Old Mill State Park, Minn.: Good snowmobiling conditions, with a 6-inch base; local snow depth 12 inches.

  • Zippel Bay State Park, Minn.: Very good skiing conditions, groomed with a 6-inch base. Very good snowmobiling conditions, with a 5-inch base and 3 miles groomed; local snow depth 15 inches.

N.D. snowmobile trails

  • Red River North Trail (Pembina and Walsh counties): Trail system is open with good conditions in ditches and marginal in open areas as of Thursday, Jan. 9; local snow depth 15 inches.

  • Lake Region Trail (Nelson and Ramsey counties): Trail from Devils Lake to Lakota was listed in fair condition as of late last week with plans in the works to open more trails as conditions allow; local snow depth 24 inches.

  • Elsewhere: Other trails in northeast North Dakota were listed as closed as of last report Thursday, Jan. 9. Check snowmobilend.org for the latest updates.

-- Herald staff reports