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 Visitgrandrapids.com for all the information you will ever need.