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Sportland_Bait

Favorite Early Ice Lakes?

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Sportland_Bait

I know that it is still hunting season and a few of you die-hards are still getting in on the last few days of open water, but I am starting to think about the winter season. As I am starting to prepare the tackle shop for the upcoming season It got me thinking about hot spots for the early ice period. Does anyone have some favorite lakes they like to start on? I know that I have a few on my list. Plus I have a couple of sleepers I am going to hit up as soon as it is safe. I mostly fish for walleyes in the winter but I have a couple of spots that have been good for crappies too. Here are a few of the lakes I want to try next month if everything goes as planned.

1. Mille Lacs walleyes- I'm sure this is on most anglers lists but it is just too good to pass up. There is nowhere better for numbers and trophy potential. As soon as anglers can access the mud flats is the best time to be there.

2. Gull Lake walleyes- I have to stick with my home lake. Gull is pretty tough to beat for numbers of eater fish early in the season. We spend most of our time each winter on Gull for good reason, it is a pretty consistent performer. Lots of spots to try and most hold fish.

3. Pelican Lake walleyes- There are probably more walleyes caught on Pelican in December and January than the rest of the season. The shoreline breaks are full of hungry fish up to 24 inches. With quite a few access points this lake receives it share of anglers.

4. North Long walleyes- Over the past few years NL has been a local favorite for early season eyes. Fish of all sizes are common over the first few weeks of the season. Plus NL has a tendancy to freeze solid pretty early in the season.

5. Gull Lake Chain crappies & sunfish- If you can access these smaller lakes the panfish action can be phenomenal. The evening crappie bite can be great with fish up to 12 inches common. Small glow jigs tipped with a maggot will do the trick for slabs.

Plus there are some great smaller lakes in the area. I've been checking the DNR stocking/netting reports for sleeper lakes. Sometimes these lakes are the best early in the season. With safe ice about a week earlier than these bigger waters they might be worth exploring.

The lakes I listed are popular hot spots, but they are my favorites early in the year. Is anyone else getting excited yet? If so what are some of your favorite early season lakes?

Jason Erlandson

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Seeker of Clayface

In the past, I had a few good early ice spots on Round, but it's been pretty slow for me the last few seasons. Not sure what the deal is.

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JP Z

Little Secret Lakes are my favorites wink.gif

Gull, Hubert, and of course North Long though aren't too shabby either.

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Sportland_Bait

Round can also be pretty good to start the season. It offers good ice until the other lakes freeze up. With decent walleye spots within walking distance from shore it is a popular early ice hot spot.

Jason Erlandson

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Meat-Run

Hey Jason and Dan,

Lets make note the history on all lakes and remember the gentleman that lost his life I think last year on Round lake with his 4 wheeler. Because you guys monitor this board the most a reminder from you guys is always good to read. Thank you guys for keeping the public on top of what current ice conditions look like. Noting the lost of a person and all that have been effected may need to just remind people of early ice conditions. This time of the year ice is for the most part very dangerous because it can very all across the lake with little room for safe measurable of ice.

Please everyone be careful and not get to excited and hit the ice and assuming that the first 100 ft of ice is the same thinkness all across the lake.

mr

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Moses2531

Whitefish!

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Sportland_Bait

Good call meat run, I know that some anglers get excited and caught up in the early ice frenzy. But we all need to slow down sometimes and just use caution. Every year I try to post on nearly a daily basis here and on our site www.sportlandbait.com the latest ice conditions as they change. They change often early in the year so I have a few of our fishing guides on the ice checking things as it goes. Every year is a little different. We'll do our best to keep everyone informed.

Jason Erlandson

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Sunset Lodge
      Hello from the NW Angle!

      Minnesota fishing has been most productive in 20-24 feet of water.  Guests are bringing home their limits of Walleye and Sauger with the occasional Perch and Northern mixed in. Fish have been most active early and late in the day and the bite has been terrific. The use of electronics continues to be very beneficial with fish taking jigging spoons, jigg’n raps or rattle baits.  Snowmobile ttrails on the Minnesota side continue to be maintained and are in great shape. We are still making ice, with most spots at over 30 inches. 

      North and East of us in Canada, big Crappies are coming in on light tackle setups out of 30 feet. If you are looking for walleye, they are everywhere!

      Until next week, 

      Sunset Lodge
    • JBMasterAngler
      On the Bayfield side of the bay, the target depth is typically 10 to 40 ft. The basswood island area is where they go after lakers. There’s a plowed road that goes out there. As of last week the ice was about 20 inches in that area, might be thicker now. Check out the Bayfield webcam, you can see what kind of activity is going on.
    • Jarrid Houston
      Wanderer, stop in at the River Rock bait shop in Ashland and they will get you pointed in the right direction.  They are always pretty cool about that.  Fishing near Ashland off of 2nd landing can be good.  Don't need nothing more than regular walleye gear, and some tip-ups and really there is no rhyme or reason where a guy should set up shop. Its a pretty wide open water and the fish that live there are always on the move. For us, most often, the sit and wait pays off.  It has been slower as of late, but still some fish..  Good luck, JH
    • cat44
      Anybody know if there is a pressure ridge/ice heave out in front of the Warroad Access? I know ice conditions will change throughout the coming weeks. Looking forward to getting after some pike.  The last few years there has been a pressure ridge there, last year it went from Springsteel over to Swift. And we've been up there plenty of times when there hasn't been one at all. Just curious to find out what conditions are like in that bay. Thanks!
    • Hoyt4
      Most likely our last trip up this year unless we go up for crappies but i'm running out of weekends. We had another great trip this weekend the fish are so fat this year more than I remember in the past.  Got my old man out for a good walleye bite he had a blast and caught a ton of fish. One day they just attached the bait as it was coming down they would come up and smash. Next day you put in the bottom and not even see the lure on the vex bring up a tad and they would smack it. Fun and a lot of snow hitting yesterday when we left.
    • PRO-V
      Agreed!!
    • SaintPaulPaul
      Switch to regular Budweiser and they seem to just jump out of the hole. No, seriously the way I improved my landing success through the ice was to go to small treble hooks. One small one on a 6' leader, a weight and Colorado blade above the leader seems to work for me. If you are on the flag right away, you don't risk gut-hooking them. I also recycle my Power Pro musky line and put it on tip ups. Also, I should add that I always  have a jaw-spreader and 8" forceps for quick and easy hook removal.
    • Iowabrewcrew
      Funny...seems like when the Emerald run slowed down up there 4-5 years ago, the fishing followed suit!
    • anyfishwilldo
      they only ran for a couple days.  They have them on the canadian side but its illegal to transport live bait across the border
    • JerkinLips
      Cliff - much more than the 4-6" they were predicting.  It was a tired drive back to Blaine late Saturday night, but would have been a much tougher drive back Sunday.
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