Just enough snow has fallen for folks to get out and enjoy all the winter activities that abound in the Grand Rapids area and Itasca County. A bit of slush formed on area lakes, but with the below zero nights of late that has frozen up in most places. Ice fishing continues to attract most of the visitors here, but there are also a multitude of things to enjoy. Most of the smaller lakes have good traveling, but because of the unseasonable winter weather we have experienced it’s still encouraged as always to be careful and safe. Check with local bait shops and VisitGrandRapids.com to get good information on conditions.
Good mapping is an important factor in locating good areas for good opportunities to catch fish, whether its panfish or walleyes and northern pike. When coming to an area you’re not totally familiar with, stopping in to one of our local bait shops and buying a lake map of where you intend to fish is a good idea. Some electronics, like the Humminbird Helix Ice 5 or 7 have Lakemaster chips available and can minimize the areas on any specific lake that give you your best chances for success. Rock piles, weed beds, points, sunken islands, inside turns, and deep water areas are all spelled out in an easy format.
As the season progresses, panfish seem to be the species of choice in the Grand Rapids area and the lakes are multiple by the numbers for best options. Many of our lakes offer a diverse split in what you may catch and can be fun wondering exactly what is on the other end of your line. Sunfish, crappies, and yellow perch many times occupy the same areas on any given body of water and especially if you find deep weedlines or edges of rock and soft bottom can be key locations. These scrappy critters are most fond of bloodworms and other small wiggly creatures in the winter as their main forage, so paying attention to specific spots mentioned on lake maps can be worth the investment.
Lakes in the Grand Rapids area that offer multiple specie opportunities are Pokegama, Burrows, Jay Gould, Little Splithand, Little Moose, Big and Little Balsam just to mention a few. Small jigs in the 1/32 nd to 1/64th ounce tipped with a waxie, euro larvae or soft plastic are all deadly on all different species of panfish. Once located try to keep your bait a few inches just above the fish for best results. Most species of fish feed upward because of their eye location and almost never chase baits in a downward direction. Lite 4# test mono such as Sufix Advance are good tools to fight the toughest of panfish and most often can handle a larger fish if he comes calling. We prefer to use soft tip rods when chasing panfish for the bite can be very subtle. Many rod companies offer panfish series of ice rods that can fit your pocketbook and needs.
The winter will begin to wind down in several weeks so come to Grand Rapids and enjoy some the best winter fishing and outdoor activities anywhere in Minnesota. The weekly Ice Fishing Reports are brought to you by Tom Neustrom, owner of MN Fishing Connections and professional fishing industry representative.