Fishing Reports

Fishing with the Guides  by George Langley.   Week of  11/18 to 11/25.

The open water season has come to an end quite abruptly, with much colder weather than we had last year at this time. You might be able to get out on a few of the larger lakes, but even they are icing up now. This has brought an end to the musky season, and for most of us we're quite OK with that as we look to ice fishing now. Look for ice thickness in the 3 – 5” range at this point. And with the cold nights we may even have thicker ice on some lakes. Spud your way out if you are heading to spots where no one else has walked – every year someone goes through at this time of year.

The main attraction for early ice anglers is walleye fishing, and that part of the season has started rather slowly. Panfish also are targeted by a few anglers early, and it is a pleasure to be able to both hunt and ice fish. This hasn't happened during the gun deer season for quite a while now.

Walleye have started slowly, as I mentioned. Part of this is that the fishing patterns have changed somewhat this year due to the changes in the weeds. The best and most used early season tactic is to intercept walleye in the evenings as they move into the weeds to feed on minnows. If there are no weeds, the bait fish will be in different places, so we end up moving and looking to find the weeds in the different locations. The Eagle River Chain annually provides good early season fishing in places like the Bullpen on Yellow Birch Lake. This is frozen over now, and we'll see some people out there this week. Best bait under those tipups is either shiners or suckers. Set these minnows and locate inside of the tipups so you aren't scaring the walleye with noise as they move in from deeper water. On the larger lakes, the patterns are similar – weeds in the evenings with tipups. That deeper water fishing will come later.

Panfish fishing can be a little slow early in the ice fishing season, as it takes a while to locate the fish each winter. The key for these fish is, again, weeds. Early fishing seems to concentrate on perch, as the crappies are in deeper water in the holes on the Chain. Waxies seem to be the bait of choice at this point, with a few anglers also taking small minnows along, perhaps in the hopes of taking the occasional stray walleye in those weeds.

Remember that safety comes first on this early-season thin ice. We haven't seen any 4 wheelers on snowmobiles yet, but they will come quickly. Be careful out there.

Enjoy the outside experience of this early season ice fishing.

Good luck and good fishin’!

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