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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Grand Rapids Ice Fishing Report 1-26-22

Ice Fishing- Guide- Visit Grand Rapids, MN

Today’s Grand Rapids Ice Fishing Report brought to you by Tom Neustrom, professional fishing guide and professional fishing industry represetative. Owner of MN Fishing Connections. Book your 2022 Fishing Guide Trip early!

Ice Fisherman with Lyle Unger
Grand Rapids guide Service Scott Popp group (from Upper Peninsula Michigan) ice fishing on a Grand Rapids area lake.

The winter chill has reinforced its grip and continues to provide good opportunities for ice fishing and other winter activities. Lots of snow continues to have Grand Rapids a destination for visitors to the area for numerous things to do. Ice fishing on area lakes has been good depending on the species you are chasing. Panfish seem to be the most pursued and there are so many lakes to try.

Trout season has opened and there are numerous trout lakes that have nice opportunities for Rainbow, Brook, Brown and even Lake Trout. Most of these trout lakes are accessible through foot travel only and they can be a bit of an adventure to get to. Except for the Lake Trout lakes, there is no live minnows allowed on designated trout lakes. Contact the Grand Rapids area DNR Fisheries office and get a list of the trout lakes and species available . They are all stocked lakes and finding out what is in the lake you intend on fishing can be a big advantage.

A few of the lakes in the Grand Rapids area that provide excellent opportunities to catch trout are Caribou( Rainbows and Lakers), Bluewater and Sherry’s Arm on Pokegama(Lakers), Tioga Mine Pit (Browns and Rainbows), Erskine, Lucky and Kremer (Rainbows and Brookies). All of these lakes require a trout stamp that would be applied to your current fishing license.

Except for waters that provide lake trout, most of your panfish tackle will work for trout on most all of the lakes. Light monofilament line such as 4# because of the clear water that is found in nearly all of the mentioned lakes. Small baits like a Northland Forage Spoon with several Euro larvae or a couple wax worms can coax the most finicky of trout to bite. Many times the softer tip rod is part of the equipment that is crucial to feeling a delicate bite. Other times when fishing lakers, you may need a stouter rod because of the crushing strike that can take place and they are much bigger than other species. Trout can be found throughout the water column so good electronics can be key to finding and catching active fish. The Humminbird Helix 7 Ice is a great unit in winter and can dial you in to roaming trout.

Trout fishing can be a lot of fun and many of the lakes you will fish are secluded and you may never see another angler the entire day. Just another example of what Grand Rapids offers in the winter for a different angling experience.

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.

Grand Rapids Ice Fishing Report 12-15-21

Ice Fishing- Grand Rapids, MN
Winter Crappie Tom Neustrom 3
Tom Neustrom with this nice winter crappie caught on a Grand Rapids, MN area lake.

Cover photo caption: Orin Paulson catching fish while ice fishing with his family on a Grand Rapids, MN area lake.

With changing weather conditions upon us people can expect changing ice conditions on all lakes in the Grand Rapids, MN area. It’s advisable to take a spud with you when venturing out on the ice and checking the ice every five to fifteen feet. If you hit it three times and the spud goes through back off and do not venture any further.

Right now, the panfish bite has been very good, and when we look at panfish we look at lighter presentations. You don’t want to fish for crappies and bluegills with the same setup that you would fish northern pike and walleyes with. A four-pound test fluorocarbon is an excellent choice that will hold a larger fish. The one thing about fluorocarbon that is significant is when using smaller and lighter jigs it will sink faster. Tungsten jigs are a modification that you need to invest in. Even for their size they sink faster and get to the fish faster, even with a light line. When fishing panfish, whether crappie or bluegill, two-euro larva or just one wax worm can be the ticket for finicky biters. One of the keys to finding active panfish is drilling several holes in the same area. Then we do a technical called “whole hopping” where we use our electronics to find schools of fish. You must chase them at times because you can pressure a school of fish and they will move off quickly. This is one of the reasons we drill many holes where we find a school of fish because most often, they don’t move extremely far. Always have a couple of rods set up with different colors baits of a similar size and you may even go to plastics on one of the rods versus live bait. When panfish become active, both presentations will put fish on the ice for you. Some lakes to consider: Splithand Lake, Bass Lake in Cohasset, Little Moose Lake,

Walleye fishing at this point has been good, but the conditions of the ice must improve in order to get to offshore structures. Shoreline breaks are your best bet early and late in the day. Many times, we like to use a “two-fisted Method”. One hole you fish a jigging spoon like a Northland buckshot rattle spoon, with a minnow head. And in the other hole either a plain hook or a small spoon with a chub or shiner. This is a way that many times you can attract fish to the hole by jigging the spoon and calling them in. Once they are attracted to the spoon, they won’t strike but they will bite the live minnow. Both methods are extremely good at first ice. Places to consider Big Splithand Lake, Moose Lake, Bowstring Lake, Graves Lake, and Jessie Lake.

Ice Fishing Tips from Tom

Grand Rapids Early Ice Fishing & Ice Safety

Ice Fishing Guide- Visit Grand Rapids, MN

This week’s early ice fishing in Grand Rapids and ice safety blog is presented by: Tom Neustrom, professional angler, and professional fishing industry representative.

Every year we always stress ice safety. Always remember that there is no ice that is truly safe. There is a guide 4 inches walking, 6-8 inches four-wheelers, 11-15 inches for ATV, and small pickups. These are good guides for travel on ice.

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For the ice anglers that went out in the fall for checking options for fish. Early ice can be a good time to catch fish. Panfish most often will stay in the locations where you find them in the fall (open water), and first ice. Specifically, when we talk about walleyes, they usually at first ice will be moving around primarily not in the fall locations. They are very food-oriented and will be constantly chasing baitfish. Most often they will be set up on the edges of the structure and strategically move upon those structures using those pathways for several weeks. To have a better understanding of this, walleyes have similar routes that they will take whether early or late in the day. It is a good assumption that if you want to try to catch walleyes in the day during the winter, look for lakes with snow cover and offshore structures. Again, this shows you that walleyes like low light options, your opportunities are better late in the day when it is not specifically light out.

Darkhouse spearing is another popular ice fishing sport that is especially good early in the season. Northern pike is not affected by cold weather as other species of fish are. Even though walleyes are cold-water species northern pike are truly very active in the winter. Most Darkhouse spearfishermen will use a large sucker minnow or a decoy to call the northern in. It is a great sport, and many people still enjoy sitting over the top of a large hole watching a fish come into the target area. As we get into the later part of the season, Darkhouse season is not as good as early in the beginning of the year. Northern pike is still a good species to pursue even after the first part of the season. Most anglers that pursue northern pike later in the season will use a function called a tip-up. You can put out two per angler, and pandemonium will occur when fish bite. It is a fun sport to try in the winter. Make sure you contact local bait shops in the Grand Rapids area: Thousand Lakes Sporting Goods, River Rat Bait, Fred’s Bait & Tackle, L&M Fleet Supply, and Winnie Trading Post are good sources of information for not only ice conditions but where several species of fish maybe biting.

Grand Rapids, MN Fall Fishing Report 10-20-21

This week’s Grand Rapids, MN area fall fishing report brought to you by Tom Neustrom, owner of MN Fishing Connections. Think about next year’s Fishing Trip and give Tom a call for a memorable fishing trip in 2022!

The beautiful fall weather is about to change and open water fishing days are limited. Water temperatures are cooling off and are now in the mid 50’s.Walleye fishing continues to be good on area lakes and jig and minnow combinations with a shiner, chub, or rainbow are your best choices. Times of the day have started to change for the best opportunities with late morning and late in the day being preferred. Some of the better lakes that may be good choices in the next few weeks are Big Cutfoot, Big Winnie, Splithand, Wabana, Trout, and Moose.

Crappies are starting to show up in their late fall and early cold water locations. Soft bottom bays and depths of 20 to 30 feet should be checked. With the use of your electronics find schools of crappies can be the ticket to success. Once located try to stay as vertical as possible with small minnows or plastics on 1/16th to 1/8th ounce jigs. Keep your bait slightly above the school for crappies and several other species feed upward and most often never down. If you aren’t getting a bite change colors and weights of jig. Oink and glow, black, chartreuse and glow are great colors to try. Some of the lakes in the Grand Rapids area to try for late season crappies are Big and Little Splithand, Cutfoot, Bowstring, Jessie, and Little Turtle. Northern Pike and Muskies are becoming very active as the water cools. Many trophy pike and muskie anglers will carry large Sucker minnows along and when a large fish is spotted they will free swim the bait right in their nose to get a bite. It’s a method that has been a stable presentation for decades. Quick strike rigs can be used to insure hook ups and easy release.

Talk to Andy Walls at Thousand Lakes Sports in Grand Rapids about the quick strike rigs they have available. Some of the lakes to try especially for a trophy Muskie are Deer, Moose, Big Cutfoot, North Star and Blandin Reservoir. All of the mentioned lakes have trophy Muskies available. Get out and enjoy the last weeks of open water fishing . It’s a beautiful time to be out in the outdoors.

Fishing Report 10-15

Sunrise on another day in beautiful Grand Rapids

The weather has started to change a bit and the location of several species of fish has also moved. the walleye fishing continues to be good. Look for depths from 6-12 ft on most of the area lakes. The only difference is on deep clear lakes where the walleyes tend to be on offshore structures. A jig and minnow are the prominent presentations for success. But many anglers like to go out in the evening to troll crankbaits. Look for that bite to continue to improve as we get closer to the October full moon. Croppies and Blue Gills have moved off weed lines and are migrating to areas along with the first break. They will continue to move to their late fall- early winter locations as the water cools. Water temperatures of 48-54 degrees trigger their movement to these pre-winter locations. Look for bays that have soft, muddy bottoms for their preferred food sources. They prefer bugs and larva that come off the bottom in the fall and winter. Use your electronics to comb these areas to locate schools of fish. Bass fishing still has options, but the Smallmouth Bass season is closed in Northern MN, but there are options for Largemouth Bass. Grand Rapids is blessed with many Largemouth Bass lakes. Look for those to be on the deeper weed lines instead of the shallow cover. As the water continues to cool, they too will seek their winter locations which are most often depths near the last break line.

Northern Pike is an option right now for they too are on the move looking for food but Muskie fishing has been one of the species that have attracted anglers to the Grand Rapids area. For the best information on location to find Muskies and available tackle, stop in 1000 Lakes Sporting Goods downtown and talk to Grant Prokop about your best options.

If you haven’t winterized your boat yet, make sure to call your local dealer and make an appointment. Once the weather turns really cold your options for getting it down in a timely fashion are less. Their schedules are very busy and you’re getting into a limited time frame. Make sure you charge your batteries up before you put your boat away for the season. Grand Rapids is a 4-season community and will continue to serve the people visiting but also the folks that live here. As you can see by this photo Grand Rapids lakes are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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