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.