Ice Fish for Eelpout and Tullibee in Grand Rapids MN

Eelpout Grand Rapids, MN

Tom shares how to ice fish for eelpout and tullibee in Grand Rapids, MN in late season. Tom owns a professional fishing guide service called MN Fishing Connections. Special thanks to Lyle Unger, Grand Rapids Guide Service, for providing pictures of a recent ice fishing trip with clients and friends.

Another great species to angle for in the winter is the eelpout “burbot”. They are a fun fish to catch but they are very weary and sometimes difficult to catch. Many anglers that fish for eelpout go out after dark because it seems that is the time of day when they are most active. Years ago, as being somewhat trash, but they are some of the cleanest fish you catch and eat also. Most of the time when you are fishing eelpout 20-40’ the best locations to try to catch them. They are not real picky about what they eat, so the style of bait doesn’t seem to matter. Sometimes two shiners on a hook can entice eelpout into biting. Just remember they are not the best-looking fish. What they trade off in looks is their fighting ability.

Once you catch one you will be a strong believer in catching another one. A very challenging fish. Don’t look at them like a rough fish. They are other species of fish have a place in the eco system. Many of their food sources are occupants of the bottom of the lake, to include sculpin, other species of minnows, and young of the year crayfish. They most often like softer tissue forage for eelpout do not have teeth, such as other species like northern pike and walleyes. Most often when angling for eelpout you can get by using the same tackle that you would use to go walleye fishing. Recommended line test is 8-10 pound, either mono filament or braid. If you use braided line add a length of approximately 4’ of 10-pound flora carbon. Anyone of your favorite walleye spoons or jigs containing a live bait will work fine to attract eelpout. They are not a real movement-oriented fish; so you need to tone down your jigging presentation and be real subtle. If you want to include a second line, many times a sucker minor or a chub right on the bottom can also trigger a bite. These two methods have worked for anglers chasing eelpout and both methods will work for you. Ice fish for eelpout and tullibee in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota area in the late ice fishing season is fun.

Tullibee Grand Rapids MN
Grand Rapids Guide Service helped these visitors to catch tullibees on a Grand Rapids, MN area.

While you are waiting for the evening bite of eelpout, during the day tullibee fishing can be an extra effort on your part. Many times, they are in the same general location; leaning towards the 40’ depth. Always remember to have your electronics with you; you will spot the suspended schools of tullibee. This will give you a good idea of exactly what depth to catch them at. Tullibee should be caught with 4’ test line mono filament and lighter spoons and jigs. What you want to add to them is 1-2 wax worms for scent or 4–5-euro larva. Any lakes in the Grand Rapids area that have tullibee will also have ell pout. Some lakes to consider are Big Winnibigoshish, Little Bass, Pokegama, Deer Lake, and Loon Lake.

Late Winter Ice Fishing Report 3-16-2022

Grand Rapids MN Winter Crappie

The warm weather is a very welcome change and bringing the snow depth down to manageable heights will make late winter-season ice fishing a bit easier to get around. With several opportunities available for Crappies, Bluegills, Tullibees, and Perch, late ice fishing won’t last long with warmer weather upon us. Make sure when venturing out you bring along or wear higher boots because of increased water on the ice.

Perch fishing, especially in the late winter, can be some of the best ice fishing opportunities of the winter. Perch start to move shallow prior to spawning and are schooled up in big bunches. They are nourishing their bodies and eating several different critters that are available. As the melting water seeps into the cracks and holes of the late ice, perch will go on a feeding binge right up into ice out.  Looking at your lake maps try to target areas that come out of deeper water to flats that are adjacent to shallower rocky areas. These are key locations to contacting late ice perch with consistency. Make no mistake you will still have to drill several holes to stay on them, but it’s worth the effort.

Yellow Perch are one of the best-eating fish available and that is why many anglers have learned their food value. The firm, sweet flesh of perch are like no other species. For generations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois, perch have been part of the “Friday night fish Fries” that many have grown up with. The reason is they are very tasty and fun to catch. We in Minnesota for many years never knew the value of perch until the last 20 years or so. Now there are many anglers targeting perch like never before. Limits were reduced to preserve the perch and now it has rebounded in several lakes where it was decades ago.

Small baits, like Northland Tackle’s Forage Minnow and the Forage Minnow Spoon, are deadly on late winter ice perch. Attach a minnow head or a couple of wax worms and subtly jig it until you get bit. Plastics also work excellent at times and the Impulse Bloodworm can be a bait that will put perch on the ice.   Good electronics and an Aqua Vu underwater camera can be all-important ingredients in finding and staying on the perch. Much of the same tackle you use for other species of panfish are well suited for perch fishing also. Lite line in 4# test and a lite action rod is sufficient for perch and loads of fun.

Some of the good lakes in the Grand Rapids area are Big Winnie, Pokegama, Bowstring, Sand, Big Ball Club, and Jessie. Contact local bait shops for updated information on where the perch are biting. It can help in making your decision on where to fish.

To book a last-minute late winter ice fishing trip or book an opening fishing vacation, click HERE.

Head North To Catch Winter Crappies

Head North Catch Winter Crappies
Grand Rapids MN Winter Crappie
Tom Neustrom with a nice winter crappie caught on a Grand Rapids, MN area lake

Tom Neustrom, owner of MN Fishing Connection, encourages to head north to catch winter crappies now. Read the Grand Rapids area ice fishing report below.

The walleye-northern pike season has ended until May, and the pursuit of panfish will take center stage. Crappies, Bluegills and Yellow Perch will be fished by serious ice anglers looking for late season opportunities. Some of the best ice fishing of the season for these species will be in the next few weeks while ice is fishable. Grand Rapids has numerous lakes within twenty-five miles that support all three of the mentioned species. Check out the MN DNR Fishing Regulations page for more details.

Now is the perfect time to head north to catch winter crappies! Crappies are one of the three that bring special attention to local anglers and visiting ones as well. Being prolific in so many lakes, and a great tasting fish, it’s no wonder this is one of the favorites of ice fisherman throughout the winter. Locating and catching them is always an issue, but as spring and late ice approaches, they tend to school up tighter and are fairly predictable. Throughout the winter deeper soft bottom locations will hold crappies and can be temper mental and many times hard to catch. As the melting starts to take place and the sun burns brightly, crappies as other species know that changes are taking place. There is more activation of bottom critters and the different larvae that live in these soft bottom areas are just what crappies and other panfish are looking for. The reproductive cycle is soon to happen, and fish need additional nourishment to survive through the rituals. They will feed more often during the day and mayfly and other larvae are their choice of diet.

Lite tackle and small baits are needed to target crappies throughout the winter, and it is essential to use these tactics during late ice. Two of my favorite late ice baits are Northland Tackle’s Gill Getter and Tungsten Punch Fly tipped with a couple of euro larvae or a single wax worm. Use your electronics to find the depth crappies are occupying and you’re in business. My Humminbird Helix 7 is so sensitive I can pick up small clouds of suspended larvae and crappies right there dining on them. Remember to keep your bait just slightly above them when dropping your bait to their location. Don’t jig your bait too erratically to spook them. Just a slight twitch and pause will usually do the trick.

Some of the preferred lakes in the Grand Rapids area that hold good numbers of crappies are Big and Little Splithand, Little Moose, Pokegama, Graves, Big Rice, and Loon. Any of these lakes offer good opportunities to provide good opportunities for excellent crappie fishing late in the ice season. March is the perfect month to head north to Grand Rapids, MN to catch winter crappies and panfish.

Watch this short video where Lyle Unger, Grand Rapids Guide Service highlights his ice fishing success for winter crappies this week.

Book Your 2022 Fishing Trip Now!

This summer head north for the perfect fishing trip. Now is the time to book your fishing trip in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota area. Hiring a professional fishing guide for your trip will ensure that you have the trip of a lifetime. Check out our Lakes/Fishing page for a list of professional fishing guides to consider.  Professional fishing guides are licensed and insured, they know the Grand Rapids area lakes, they provide the state-of-the-art fishing equipment and technology, and they can get you on fish faster and with more success. Make fishing memories on our lakes in Minnesota’s nature. Consider Grand Rapids this year for your fishing trip destination. With over 1,400 lakes in the Grand Rapids area, you are sure to catch fish! Consider bringing the entire family. Grand Rapids offers over 2,000 miles of trails to bike, hike and ATV. Grand Rapids has two craft breweries, boutique style shops, great place to eat & drink, nightlife entertainment, public art, and area attractions to discover MN history. Grand Rapids is also the perfect place to recharge, reconnect and relax. Stay in Grand Rapids where you will find an abundance of cozy lodging options.

Ice Fishing for Northern Pike in the Grand Rapids Area

Northern Pike -Grand Rapids, MN

As winter continues to move forward, Ice fishing has sort of taken a back seat to other winter activities in the Grand Rapids area. With snow levels at ever-increasing levels, snowmobiling and cross country skiing have been extremely popular. It continues to be an “Old-time Minnesota Winter” that we haven’t seen in several years. A gentleman once told me the higher the Muskrats build their winter houses the more snow we are going to have. Well, he was correct. Even the weather folks predicted this winter wrong, but the Muskrats knew.

End of Season for a Few Species- Northern Pike & Walleye

Winter fishing is still a popular time to be out enjoying the outdoors. Right now locations are very important in contacting fish of several species. As we are into the later period of ice fishing, the cold water has definitely slowed the metabolism of fish but that will increase their feeding activity as we continue to move forward. Species such as walleyes and northern pike have only a few more weeks to show in your bucket. February 28th will end the season for both species, but there are still others to fish for.

Ice Fishing Tips!

Northern pike is moist often a fish that is less affected by cold water and they can continue to be active. By using Lakemaster mapping you can target areas where weeds and hard bottom near drop-offs exist. Tip-ups are still a good way to target these late-season pikes and allowing two tip-ups per angler can up your odds if you bring a friend or family member along. Smaller sucker minnows will most often produce the most flags. If I’m going to jig them or fish live to bait with a rod and reel I most often will use a slower moving bait then in early winter, drill several holes in an area from 8 to 20 feet and change holes often until you get bit. Many times attach a small sucker or medium shiner to your jig if that’s your presentation and it will definitely help. If there are weeds anywhere in the holes you drilled, concentrate your efforts in and around those locations.

Great Lakes to Fish for Northern Pike

Several of the good northern pike lakes in the Grand Rapids area that you may want to try are Swan, Trout Lake in Coleraine, Wabana, Big Winnie, and Pokegama. The last 2 weeks of the ice fishing season are coming up for northern pike and walleyes. Get out and give it a try on the mentioned lakes and it may be a good choice for the last of the season ice fishing trip.

To locate lakes, click HERE

There are great lodging properties in Itasca County on or close to the lakes mentioned above. To book/check out the lodging properties, click HERE. If you can’t make it up this winter to ice fish for northern pike or walleyes, don’t worry Summer and Fall are great times to book a fishing vacation too.


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Ice Fishing for Walleyes

Ice fishing for walleyes in the Grand Rapids MN area

This week’s fishing report brought to you by Tom Neustrom highlights ice fishing for walleyes in the Grand Rapids, MN area.

The weather has improved, and anglers are getting out on the ice and having opportunities to catch fish. It’s been an old time Minnesota winter and dealing with conditions is just part of fishing in the winter. The end of February marks the end of the fishing season for walleyes, northern pike, and other species you may catch. There are still many weeks left to angle for panfish, trout, and tullibees before open water comes.

Some of the best opportunities for late season ice fishing for walleyes in the Grand Rapids MN area is early and late in the day. Like many species, walleyes have been slightly lethargic after living in water temperatures in the 30’s for several months. Their movements and migrations have become limited and not as often. Most often daytime catching for walleyes can be limited to the last 2 hrs of light. Walleyes will travel same routes at times of the day in search of food. That’s why its advised to set up on corners of bars near deep water as to ambush them as they migrate to bars, humps and weeded areas somewhat shallower.

Smaller baits can many times be key to success and not moving these baits aggressively but more gradual. A 1/8th ounce Northland Buckshot Rattle Spoon or Buck Shot Flutter Spoon can be the ticket. Time and time again I have seen this presentation produce when all else failed. Attach a minnow head or several larvae to the treble for smell and action. You may also want to alternate a plain hook and minnow on a “Dead Stick” with little or no additional movement. Many times, to limit too much movement of the minnow is to trim the tail or shorten the space from the sinker to the hook.  Both these tips can help you to get a bite when all else fails. I prefer lighter line later in the season and most often 4-6 pound test will work just fine and get you a few more bites.

Big Splithand, Moose, Big Cutfoot, Jessie, and Pokegama are some lakes that are good ice fishing for walleyes in the Grand Rapids, MN area. Get set up early before sundown and be as quiet as possible. It definitely will make a difference. For more information: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Ice Fishing. Book your lodging HERE.

Grand Rapids Ice Fishing Report Week of 1-31-22

Tullibee- Ice Fishing- Grand Rapids, MN

Ice Fishing Report 1-31-22 for the greater Grand Rapids, Minnesota area brought to you by: Tom Neustrom. Tom is a professional fishing guide, and owner of MN Fishing Connections guide service.

Brrrrr. Turn up the heat!! The weather has been hard to predict lately and the many cold fronts that have been moving through have created other options for ice anglers. With all the species that are available in the Grand Rapids area, we never run out of places to fish for them. Tullibee fishing has been an option for decades and it is no wonder. They fight well on light tackle, are most often in schools, and are excellently smoked or pickled. Not every lake supports a good population of tullibees and targeting the best opportunities for success should be looked for at the DNR Fisheries web site. Some of the lakes in the Grand Rapids area that have good populations of tullibees are Trout Lake, Pokegama, Little Bass, Wabana, Big Splithand, Big Winnibigohish, and Bowstring.

Tullibee Ice Fishing Jeffrey Johnson
A nice tullibee caught by Jeffrey Johnson on a Grand Rapids area lake.

When fishing Tullibees there are three things to always keep in mind. Good electronics, Lite tackle, and a good lake map for starters. Most often Tullibees are found suspended over depths of 20-40 feet and are constantly on the move. Drilling lots of holes can help to stay on them as they move through the water column. They feed primarily on larvae so finding these deeper areas with mud or marl bottom can be key locations for finding tullibees. Good electronics will allow you to see the precise depth these schools are and hole hoping with them will help find active schools. Sometimes if you are lucky you can set up a school that moves back and forth through the area you have drilled several holes and you can ambush them when they keep returning to a small area. One nice thing is most often a day bite and low light conditions are not a pre-requisite for getting bit.

Tackle to tangle with tullibees is simple and remains lite. Similar rods and reels that you fish panfish work excellent and fluorocarbon test mono in the four-pound test range is ideal. Baits can be your choice but a few options work better than others. Small spoons baited with a cluster of euro larvae are hard for them to resist. The Buck Shot Rattle spoons from Northland Tackle can also be key. Colors such as Super Glow Goldfish, Gold Shiner, and Silver Shiner will call the most finicky tullibees to the hole. One little trick is to take the treble hook off and attach a dropper line with a small Northland Tungsten Punch Fly can be a presentation that will produce when other baits tullibees will shy away from. For an added incentive attach a wax worm or euro larvae to the tip and it can make a difference at times. Tullibee fishing is just another good angling option for the Grand Rapids area with lots of fun and action.

Top 5 Trip Ideas for a Romantic Getaway

Romantic Getaway- Visit Grand Rapids, MN

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner plan your romantic getaway in Grand Rapids, MN. There is no better gift than a special weekend out of town. If you haven’t planned what to do for your special person, here are 5 ideas to make this valentine’s day extra special.

1. Hotel, Wine Bar, & Snowshoeing!

In Grand Rapids, there are 5 outstanding hotels. Some of the great amenities that are offered at some of the properties include a pool, hot tub, dog-friendly, attached dining/bar and all are conveniently located close to town. During your stay, visit UnWined Up North. They were voted the #1 wine bar in Minnesota by Star Tribune. Locally owned and known for a wide array of wine and beer all made in Minnesota. During your stay, spend some time outdoors exploring the snowshoeing trails. Rentals are available at Ardent Bicycles. Guided snowshoeing is available every Thursday from 12:30-1:30 at Tioga Recreation with Stephanie from the City of Cohasset Park and Rec. Department. Snowshoes are available during this guided service for FREE! Check out other trails in the greater Grand Rapids area by clicking HERE.

Snowshoes Janna Salmela 2015

2. Experience the Arts During a Weekend Up North!

Part of a great romantic getaway is to take in a performance together. See the Itasca Strings Orchestra on February 12th at 7 pm at The Reif. The Itasca Symphony Orchestra Plays Bizet Featuring violist Evgeny Zvonnikov they will be playing Carmen Fantasy. Before the show, there are great dining options in the Grand Rapids area to treat your special someone. Don’t forget to stop at MacRostie Art Center to see their Face Value exhibit by Russ White. There is also a cool store on the corner called Stained Glass with Class that offered stained glass classes. Call today to book a time!

MAC Art Shop Jordan Weis

3. Relax & Re-connect at a Resort or Bed & Breakfast

Enjoy the coziness of a cabin in the winter or the ease of a Bed & Breakfast. Re-connect with your loved one for a romantic getaway while exploring Minnesota’s nature. Set up an ice shanty on one of 1,000+ lakes in the area for some amazing ice fishing. Check out the latest Ice Fishing Report. Another idea is to head over to Blackwater Cross County Ski trail for a night ski on their lit trails. Lights are on until 10 pm and they have a heated shack! For more cross-country ski trails, click HERE.

Emily and Kyle Wood Remer MN area 2 24 21


4. Weekend Ideas for the Adventurous Couples

If you and your significant other love snowmobiling or fat tire biking, the Grand Rapids area is the perfect place to make a valentines day weekend trip. There are over 1,000+ miles of groomed trails to explore. Check out the trails in advance by clicking HERE. If you are visiting to fat tire bike, Tioga is the place to go. There are over 25 miles of groomed trails from beginner to advanced. Click HERE to see the trail report.

Resort Group

5. Beer Flights & Museums

Come experience a fun weekend at the local breweries! Sip a flight of craft beer while listening to live music and enjoy some great food. Rapids Brewing Company has a special menu for Valentine’s Day and Klockow Brewing Company allows you to bring in your own food!  Near the breweries are 2 unique museums. Check out The Itasca County Historical Society which has a ton of unique exhibits and has an escape room. Call to book an hour! If you and your significant other are looking for a guided tour, the Judy Garland Museum has a guide every Friday and Saturday. Take a walk around and learn about the life of Judy Garland. The museum included the home she grew up in.

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Information on Booking a Trip

To see the different lodging properties in the greater Grand Rapids area visit our Stay Page. If you have any questions about booking a romantic getaway, feel free to call the Visit Grand Rapids office at (218) 326-9607 or e-mail us at


Ice Fishing Report 1-20-22

Ice Fishing Guide-Visit Grand Rapids

There is always winter to respect and just because the last two winters were a bit short of Northern Minnesota standards, this winter has come to the deck as a familiar winter. Lots of snow and cold has made for conditions that are good for great winter destinations and ice fishing has been one of the number one activities in the Grand Rapids area. Snowmobile trails are groomed, cross country ski trails are in great shape, snowshoeing is awesome, and ice fishing opportunities are numerous.

With additional cold weather ice conditions are doing well but always treat ice with extra care. Many of the smaller lakes in the area are producing nice catches of panfish and that should continue to be good all through the winter. Most of the target areas on lakes have been off the first break in 16-22 feet or a dominant hole of 24-32 feet. Mud bottom is a key to the deeper water locations for their diet during the winter months. There is all kind of different larvae that live in the mud especially during the cold-water period. This is one of the reasons over the years that anglers targeting panfish have learned that wax worms and euro larvae will outproduce other baits such as minnows and plastics. When they are fished on lighter tackle and smaller baits such as a 1/28the ounce Tungsten Northland Mud Bug or Gill Getter they can just be the right bait at the right time. By using your electronics, and keeping the bait just above the fish, it’s a system that is hard to beat.

Some of the smaller lakes to try in the Grand Rapids area are Little Moose, Little Cutfoot, Little Bowstring, Loon, Rice, and sections of Bass lake are all good choices. Remember when out in the winter weather to dress in layers and a facemask is not a bad idea either. Pocket and foot warmers are not a bad idea and placed in your gloves and boot can make for a better day on the ice. These are available at all bait shops, most gas stations, and many of the retail stores in the Grand Rapids area.

Ice Fishing Report 1-13-22

Ice Fishing Guide Service- Grand Rapids, MN

Winter is here with a bit of normalcy and the cold weather and mounds of snow are not unusual for Minnesota and especially the Grand Rapids area. On a positive note, it opens the door for many outside activities. Ice fishing is just one of the activities that are available and with so many lakes and species to catch, it’s no wonder that folks seem to be coming north every weekend to try their luck. The cold fronts of late have slowed things down at times, but with warmer consistent weather look for the bite to get better.

For walleyes, many of the area lakes are turning out nice fish early and late in the day. Some of the better lakes in the area to try are Trout Lake in Coleraine, Pokegama, Wabana, Big Splithand, Big Cutfoot, Jessie, and the north end of Big Bass Lake in Cohasset. Most successful anglers are drilling several holes in the same area and fish side by side holes with an active bait like a Northland Buckshot Spoon and minnow head and the other hole with a lively shiner or chub on a plain hook with a split shot. Many times the “Dead Stick” with the plain hook and minnow will outfish a moving bait. Make sure you change your bait often to offer a lively supper. Time and time again this will put fish on the ice when all else fails. Offshore structures can be your best bet for locations, but also with mapping as offered by Lakemaster can pinpoint specific points and flats that can produce walleyes in the winter. Also, don’t discount weed beds for many times on lakes that have substantial shallow water areas that can outproduce offshore structures. Many times scattered tip-ups with 3-4 inch shiners or sucker minnows can be a presentation that can put walleyes on the ice on flats that have cabbage weed beds.  This also can attract other species that occupy the same weed beds such as nice northern pike as a bonus.

Crappies, Bluegills, and Yellow Perch have been the most fished species of choice. With the recent snow, the accumulations have made travel on lakes a bit difficult unless on plowed roads or use of snowmobiles. Also, beware of slush areas off main plowed roads with the additional snow. Some of the better lakes in the Grand Rapids area to try panfish are Little Splithand, the bays on Pokegama Lake, Jay Gould Lake, Bass Lake in Cohasset, Bowstring, and Big Cutfoot Lake. Be mobile until you find pods of active fish. You may have to drill lots of holes and then use your electronics to hole hop.

Besides the noteworthy ice fishing, there are great Ski Trails, Fat Tire Bike Trails, groomed snowmobile trails, and foot travel trails to just explore. Go to for all the information you will ever need.