Tom Neustrom, Fishing Professional, shares tips on hard water season fishing in Grand Rapids, MN. For additional ice fishing information, check out our Ice Fishing page.
The hard water season is here and anglers are starting to fish multiple lakes in the Grand Rapids area, and ice conditions are improving daily on all lakes. Caution is always stressed and foot travel or wheeler travel is your best choice. Some of the smaller lakes in the area that are kicking out decent panfish are Little Moose, Big and Little Splithand, Loon, Little Cutfoot, and several others. Small tungsten jigs with plastics or grubs are the best way to attract panfish to bite. Soft action rods with a quick tip will telegraph the very slight bite that occurs in the winter at times. Many times spoons and small Jigging Raps will attract more bites when fish are active. Three to four pound test monofilament is about perfect for the majority of situations you encounter.
Walleye fishing has been good on area lakes as well. Some of the larger lakes are just starting to see some foot travel by anglers to their favorite spots. Caution on large lakes is extremely important for they have a tendency to freeze slightly later than smaller lakes. Big Winnie is providing good options for walleyes and ice conditions are good. Depths of 18-22 ft have been the best locations to try. Drill several holes in and around the structures and give each one a few minutes. Rattle spoons tipped with a minnow head will call them in with sound and smell. If you are fishing two rods, set the other with a “dead stick” and a plain hook and split shot. A shiner or rainbow chub is all you need and that presentation can be the right choice when walleyes are a bit negative. Other choices in the area for walleyes are Pokegama, Sugar, Bowstring, Jessie, and Round Lakes.
Northern Pike fishing has been very good and fans of tip-up fishing have been very happy with results. Spear Fishing has been excellent as well with Third River Flowage, Bowen;s Flats, and the mouth of the Mississippi River on Winnie have been good choices. Existing cabbage beds near deep drops are prime locations for good northern fishing.
As the winter continues to provide additional opportunities and increased ice conditions, other bodies of water will give additional options. We have a great start to the hard water fishing season and it appears we will have good ice throughout the season. Make sure to check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Ice Safety page before you venture out. They advise to check the ice every 150 ft. It is always a good idea to leave a note on your car windshield including the time you left and time expected back and a emergency contact number. Be safe and have fun!