There is always winter to respect and just because the last two winters were a bit short of Northern Minnesota standards, this winter has come to the deck as a familiar winter. Lots of snow and cold has made for conditions that are good for great winter destinations and ice fishing has been one of the number one activities in the Grand Rapids area. Snowmobile trails are groomed, cross country ski trails are in great shape, snowshoeing is awesome, and ice fishing opportunities are numerous.
With additional cold weather ice conditions are doing well but always treat ice with extra care. Many of the smaller lakes in the area are producing nice catches of panfish and that should continue to be good all through the winter. Most of the target areas on lakes have been off the first break in 16-22 feet or a dominant hole of 24-32 feet. Mud bottom is a key to the deeper water locations for their diet during the winter months. There is all kind of different larvae that live in the mud especially during the cold-water period. This is one of the reasons over the years that anglers targeting panfish have learned that wax worms and euro larvae will outproduce other baits such as minnows and plastics. When they are fished on lighter tackle and smaller baits such as a 1/28the ounce Tungsten Northland Mud Bug or Gill Getter they can just be the right bait at the right time. By using your electronics, and keeping the bait just above the fish, it’s a system that is hard to beat.
Some of the smaller lakes to try in the Grand Rapids area are Little Moose, Little Cutfoot, Little Bowstring, Loon, Rice, and sections of Bass lake are all good choices. Remember when out in the winter weather to dress in layers and a facemask is not a bad idea either. Pocket and foot warmers are not a bad idea and placed in your gloves and boot can make for a better day on the ice. These are available at all bait shops, most gas stations, and many of the retail stores in the Grand Rapids area.