This week’s Grand Rapids Ice Fishing Report presented by Tom Neustrom, professional fishing guide and professional fishing industry representative.
A winter so far to remember will be the talk in bait shops, stores, at home, and places where people gather safely. Visitors from all over Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and even Michigan are coming to the Grand Rapids area to enjoy what winter has to offer in so many ways. The community has been busy with folks coming in and around during the holidays to enjoy outdoor activities during the unusual weather. Ice fishing, skating, snow shoeing, sliding, and cross country skiing have all been very popular.
Ice fishing is probably the most popular of all winter sports in our area and for good reason. We have some of the most diverse fisheries in Minnesota and there is something for everyone.
Many anglers are concentrating on the panfish with hundreds of lakes to choose from in the Itasca County and Grand Rapids area. Bluegills and crappies are the most sought after and lite line and tackle are the norm for chasing these guys. Many times, tungsten jigs have been the popular lure of choice with a wax worm, euro larvae, or soft plastic imitation. The tungsten jigs are heavier at times in some situations and therefore especially when panfish are suspended, can pass directly through the schools. Keeping another rod pre-rigged and ready to go with a lighter lead jig or spoon, can flutter at just the right speed to trigger a bite. Keeping a close eye on my Humminbird Helix 7 allows me to track the correct speed and fall of the jig and how it influenced a bite. Most often with aggressive fish it doesn’t seem to matter, but there are instances where it will put a few more fish on the ice. A few lakes to try for good panfish opportunities are Bass Lake in Cohasset, Little Moose, Big and Little Bowstring, Pokegama, Little Cutfoot, Dunbar, and Burrows lakes. All have good populations of panfish to catch.
Minnesota is one of the very few states in the country that allow dark house spearing for northern pike during the winter months. The season is from November 15th to the last Sunday in February and requires a special license to participate. All size restrictions that apply to the open water season also apply to the winter and spearfishing regulations. It has been a long standing sport for many decades and is enjoyed by a very dedicated group of anglers. Artificial decoys and live sucker minnows are usually used to attract pike within range of the angler to spear. Being very stealth and quiet is key to a successful day of spearing. Northern Pike, especially in the winter, are one of the best table fare of all species.
Walleye fishing is still good on several area lakes with early and late in the day the best times to target them. Big Cutfoot, Winnie, Pokegama, Moose, Jessie, and Round have all been giving up a fair share of walleyes and several nice Jumbo Perch .Glow, with orange or chartreuse buckshot spoons with a minnow head, Jigging Raps, and blade baits are all putting fish in the bucket. A dead stick in another hole with a live shiner or chub, adjacent to the one you’re jigging in will many time entice a strike from a walleye that wants a slower mover.
Whatever your choice of winter activity, Grand Rapids and Itasca County have it all for you and your family to enjoy. Special thanks to those that shared their Ice Fishing pictures with us this week: