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URL Report March 9-11

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We had a pretty decent outing this past weekend. It will likely be the last "hardwater" trip of the season for us and a great time as usual. Our first order of business was to get my wife's dad, Marlen on his first URL crappie. It took a little doing but after an hour or so he finally hooked up with a nice URL slab.


It was still pretty slow as my wife Wanda and Marlen each had one crappie each after a few hours and Marlen had to head back home in a few hours. I continued to look for more active fish. I found them about 90 ft away from where we had the houses set up. It's a beautiful thing to see crappies stacked below a fresh hole on the Marcum LX5. The first one I popped on my 2" Berkley power minnow was just a foot below the ice. When I set the hook the crappie was already in the whole. I called Marlen over and had him jump in the hole and I drilled several more in the area. Here's Marlen and some of his catch for the day.


I caught most of my crappies on the power minnows. Wanda and Marlen got their fish on Custom jigs & Spins #4 & 6 glow Demons and a fathead minnow.

It just goes to show how things change from day to day. When we left there Friday night there were still fish in that spot. When we arrived Saturday morning there were still fish in that spot. However, they were very negative and we and Chris Hanson's crew were only able to catch a few. Sunday morning Chris Hanson and his crew were there again and the fish were not cooperating. The search was on. They continued to drill holes in that area while Wanda and I searched out another spot about a 1/4 mile away. Hanson pick up one in the old spot. Wanda lost a nice slab and I caught another in the new location and after a short while the Hanson crew joined us. We had short periods of decent action through out the afternoon. Wanda and I had to leave for home before the traditional dusk bite. But we had a decent day overall. The total for us, including her dad, (who was only able to fish Friday with us) were 21 fat URL slabs for the weekend. We certainly have caught more but a great trip by any standard.


Keys for us this weekend were to get away from the crowds. Drill lots and lots of holes looking for active schools of crappies. Hit the fish with the combo of plastics jigged on one rod with a deadstick minnow combo on another rod nearby. The key was to get those crappies to chase the bait. If they didn't hit the plastics they usually hit the deadstick/minnow combo.

Make sure to pack you extention, (maybe two of them for a few spots), bring extra auger gas and don't be afraid to look for schools of active fish even though you might be in an area with a crappie showing up every hour or two. The motherload may be closer than you think. laugh.gif

The roads out of Hillman's are in great shape especially for this time of year. The snow was melting and a bit of slush showing up in spots but there's still lots of ice fishing season left.

Good Luck!

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Really nice report. Exactly what I needed to hear before heading up Sat AM. Cheers!

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Borch is the man! You guys really got into the fish AGAIN this weekend!

Like Borch mentioned, my group (Myself, My Dad, and my friend Adam) met up with Jeff & his wife out on the ice and worked as a team to track down the elusive URL crappie. We were working over quite a large area of ice. We all augered holes in all sorts of different directions. When fish were caught in a hole, more holes were augered around that hole and fished thoroughly. Sometimes you would catch more fish, sometimes you wouldn't. And the hunt would continue...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. You can catch crappies on URL 2 ways- dumb luck, or work your butt off. Of the 2 approaches, the working your butt off approach is the approach that has paid off on all my trips.

If you expect to auger 4 holes, sit there, and limit out on crappies... forget it. Those days are over. If you want to catch crappies, plan on augering 100 holes and covering some water. This is a lot of fun with 3-4' of ice to auger through! shocked.gif Sooner or later, you'll run into a school of active fish. The action will be nuts for a short while, and the school will move on.

The great thing about last weekend was the weather was beautiful! I never took the portable shacks out of my truck for the entire weekend. We could comfortably fish outside in bibs & sweatshirts and it was great!

Borch might have touched on this as well but aggressive tactics were the key, again. We were fishing plastics (2" Berkley Power Minnow) and covering water. When you dropped on a hole where there was an active fish nearby, they screamed in and clobbered the bait within 30 seconds. Walleyes, Perch, and Crappies all acted this way. There were the active ones (kamikazes) and the passive ones (sniffers). When you got into an area where all the fish were sniffers, it was time to move on. Its interesting how 50 yards can make all the difference in the world between active and passive fish. It looks like its going to be a tough bite, you move 10-15 holes down your line of holes, and you hit into suicidal fish.

Here's a pic with one of my first Power Minnow crappies of the day. This was 1 of 3 crappies I caught on Saturday.


I told my dad on this trip that he was going to have to break out of his shell and try some new techniques if he wanted to catch a couple crappies. He's a jig & minnow guy. But I rigged him up with a Berkley Power Minnow and he caught on quickly. smile.gif I even heard him say he couldn't believe how hard the fish (walleyes & crappies) were hitting his bait. When you fish these larger plastics, its not a finesse game. You are using the plastics to search for active fish and they'll let you know when they are there.

Here's my dad with a nice crappie caught on plastic.


It was most definitely a great weekend on Red again. Not my best trip up there, but enough consistent action to keep us entertained. I think we ended up with 9 crappies total for our group, and Borch's group got the better end of the crappie catching.

Not too shabby for a lake that most people believe doesn't have crappies in it anymore. wink.gif

Once again, all fish were caught during the day with darkness completely shutting the activity down.

Here's my Dad, Adam, and I with our Sunday catch.


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that is odd cause we punched about 50-60 holes in a fishy area and we had little action during the day but as dark hit we would catch more fish...6-10pm is when we caught the majority of our fish this past house caught 8 and the house next to us 10yds away ended up with 18.......

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that is odd cause we punched about 50-60 holes in a fishy area and we had little action during the day but as dark hit we would catch more fish...6-10pm is when we caught the majority of our fish this past house caught 8 and the house next to us 10yds away ended up with 18.......

Just goes to show that there are always crappies biting on URL. You just have to be on the right school at the right time. laugh.gif

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I thought I saw your truck Hanson! I saw you driving out on Hillmans road as I was leaving Sunday morning.

The main reason for the trip was to get the ice house back home, but fished Late Saturday through early Sunday. Only caught 4 walleye, that's it, but we didn't try very hard to find fish though either. We (I) drilled about 20 holes around the house and tried those through out the day/night with no luck. Marked a lot of fish, but it seemed nothing wanted to bite. Oh well, I got my ice house back home without any trouble, so I'm happy.

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Fished today from 4-8 miles out of the south side. Fished 6 places, drilled 10-12 holes at each place in a big circle. Only 6 eyes to show, lost 5 fish. Very slow and wet. Got the house off though, probably the last trip of the year. Good fishin.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Hoey
      OK - we made it back!!!  Every trip is different with it's own potential perils.   I finally got into my house on Friday around 11am.  My guests were rookies, so i spent time with each of them, getting setup, heaters started, Vexilars set, houses banked, lines prep'd and set, bait, etc...  The bite was somewhat slow and many small ones.  The day got better 3 to 430pm.  Ended up with 6 nice eyes (19, 18x3, 17x2), 13 jumbos (most ever for a day), 12 small sauger which we ate for dinner.   On Saturday we headed up to the south shore of the Angle, longer ride, so again did not get started too early.  Ended up with our 6 eyes for our limit, these ranged from 15 to 16 inches and a 4-pack of sauger.  Again the bite seemed to pickup at 3 or so and was done by 430pm.   Ice as 3 foot or so.  Snow depth varied a lot, depending on the condition of the ice.  Smooth areas were blown off to crusty 6 inches or so.  Rough ice surely held a lot of snow.   The drive back on Sunday was somewhat tough from Baudette to Emily, winter storm warning.  Slow go, low visibility, and icy roads, sometimes down to 15 mph.   Next scheduled trip is with my wife, son, and three of his Gopher swim teammates for spring break in three weeks.  
    • Naturboy
      Those were caught from a shallow lake (17’) in 9 feet of water at the bottom of the first shoreline break. I was using a UV buckshot and minnow head since the water was murky. The crappie is still swimming the walleye not so much. I didn’t get the exact location. Sorry  
    • 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
    • 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!
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