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UMDSportsman

Prairie Pothole Lakes

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UMDSportsman

I just moved down to the area right at christmas time and spent the last two weeks hopping around ice fishing. I tried various lakes and hopped around trying different areas on the lakes I did fish on. My question is: what is the best way to attack these types of lakes. I know they are pretty shallow, 5-10 ft max, and that walking around can make noise and scare fish. Is it best to just pull up, drill a couple holes and give it 5,10,20,30 minutes, or does it help to drill 15 holes and hop around them holes looking for fish. I am also wondering what types of "structure" are best to hit, ie. are the fish just out cruising the middle of the lake, or would they hold more to shoreline breaks/points? I have had limited success in various places, open lake/shoreline/points/rock piles, etc. I am not looking for lake names and where the hot bite is, just what a good approach is.

I am also curious about the rough fish. i threw my camera down at one lake and saw a bunch of carp swimming around. is this a sign that a person should move?

These prarie potholes are a new challenge. thanks in advance for any help/pointers.

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Eric Wettschreck

Welcome to SW MN. Big change from what you're used to, eh?

People laugh at me when I get to talking about our little potholes. However, they hold some real nice fish and finding them is not easy.

My best advice is to make some friends and go fishing with them. We've fished together and you should know that you are ALWAYS welcome in my fish house.

Potholes offer a whole new group of challenges. A 4" bump can mean everything. Yup, 4 stinkin inches. The lakes really arn't mapped out that well, and you really have 2 options when fishing these lakes. Option 1, hook up with some local guys and go fishing. This is fun. Option 2, get out and drill holes. This to me is more fun. Keep a journal of what you saw/caught during a particular time of year. That will help you a a ton.

To answer some of your specific questions....the rough fish are everywhere. They have no real rhyme or reason in the winter time to be in any specific spot. If you see them, fear not, they are just wandering.

The run and gun vs sit and wait is a long stretched debate. I've always found run and gun to be more productive. Drill, drill, drill, and drill...then wait a tad. Let the spooked fish calm down and become active again.

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Learning2Fish

Which lakes did you hit in the area?

During the day you probably can move around more and find the active fish. From 4-7pm range if fishing for walleyes i would try to find that deeper hole ledge where they maybe moving in/out of to feed. The ones in the shallower are your more active fish as you know.

But the key areas would be to try and locate the rock piles, fallen trees, deeper holes, sharp points and change in the bottom such as mud to sand.

If there is alot of traffic already on that lake then the fish won't be so spooked to the drilling as to a remote pond that barely gets any activity.

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riverrat56

I would key on any transition areas, sand to mud, rock to sand, weedlines, or the all important; no fish to fish.

Other than that just keep on drilling, I have caught fish out roaming in shallow lakes that have no rhyme or reason to be there.

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muc33

I would key on any transition areas, sand to mud, rock to sand, weedlines, or the all important; no fish to fish.

Other than that just keep on drilling, I have caught fish out roaming in shallow lakes that have no rhyme or reason to be there.

Or the normal SW Mn transition of mud to mud, that one seems to do the best. hehehehehe.

River Rat, option two works best!

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UMDSportsman

I have to start a fishing log, i have the file, just need to find it and start it. A couple of the lakes I have tried are Sara, shetek, round, graham, kinbrae, okabena, and at least two or three others that i can't remember right now. I acutally found one good transition area, 3-4' rock pile that droped off to 7-8' and transitioned to sand. Decent walleye action at prime time, but all small. A majority of the walleyes i found were small, ie 8-13", is that pretty commmon around here? If it matters I also like to target other fish besides walleyes, i also love to catch perch, crappies, sunfish, northern, well, just about anything that pulls on the line.

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Team Otter

First and foremost, don't set your expectations too high during your first official hard water season in southern MN. It's takes A LOT of time and effort to pull together a pattern around here and just when you think you have your arms around something, the pattern changes. So, you need quite a few back-up plans. Ha! And do most of your scouting and game-planning in the summer. You can cover a lot more ground in a boat than you can with an auger.

Transition areas, food and cover rule the roost in the southern heartland. If you go with BG, add PBR to that list.

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Learning2Fish

sara is a ok walleye lake, perch and crappie it holds unsure of numbers or size. graham is decent with lots of little walleyes in both east and west and do hold some really nice ones. Kinbrae i hear hold alot of perch, few northerns and unsure of crappie. Okabena holds lots of walleye, perch and crappie. Alot of the walleyes and perch that are biting right now reach the 8-10 inch range. The crappie were small handsize. But i know there are lots of large walleyes held in the lake and produces several ten pounders a year. Indian lake would be a lake to check for crappie and they are usually a big handsize. Ocheada and bella can produce some crappie/perch. Some nice northerns can be caught and the walleye every once in great while, but those two can be a big hit or miss.

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landscaper

well said by everyone! i have to agree any drop offs, rocks to sand/mud anything and everything....fishing theses lakes is not easy!! and like said above the lake maps dont show anything close to what there is out there!

good luck!

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Learning2Fish

talcot is another good lake for walleyes. The last time we were out there we picked up alot of little ones, but on the opener you'll see it packed rain or shine every year. Winter not many houses out there and watchout if you drive on that lake. There are some nice crappies but low numbers.

Lake wilson is known for its jumbo perch 12-15inch fishing, but so far its been pretty slow that i've heard.

Boot lake there are perch and northerns in there. You'll have to sort through alot of perch i think to finally get some to keep.

Loon lake is known for crappie fishing. I can't tell you the size of them this year. When i went this summer for crappies ended up getting alot of walleyes about 15 inches and too many bullheads.

If you buy a iowa license then your best bet would be to hit boji for some nice panfish that come out of the bays. Of course some really nice walleyes and northerns as a added bonus.

Can anyone say whats all in Clear lake over by jackson?

Clear lake up by talcot they were catching perch up there. unsure of what else is in it.

What does windom have to offer?

For shetek did you try over by the inlet?

Also since the water clarity isn't that clear you probably wanna try maybe a red/orange color then also something that rattles for a jig.

Trying to think of what other lakes around that you can try and what they may hold for fish.

After they turn on the aeration systems to a lake that will also change any pattern you might of setup before that.

Good luck and have fun

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Eric Wettschreck

Lime lake in Avoca has a decent perch, very nice pike, and amazing crappie population. Disclaimer, just cuz I said the crappies are in the lake doesn't mean I guarantee you will catch them. They are very difficult to find. This time of the year (I call winters dog days from mid Jan to mid Feb) I spend a lot of time smack dab in the middle of the lake.

Correbelle outside of Iona has decent perch.

Buffalo, near Dovrey had so-so perch.

Fox lake near Shetek has very nice perch.

Yes, the Shetek inlet is a good place to fish. However, if you plan on driving near the inlet I advise using caution. There is moving water there and it has a reputation for thin ice next to thick ice.

The Windom area has Cottonwood, Timber, Eagle, and Bingham Lake. Last time I fished Bingham, for a couple of different reasons, I promised myself I wouldn't be returning for a few years.

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88fan

UMD I considered myself to be a very good icefisherman until this winter, so far this has been my worst winter in memory. cry On many of the SW MN lakes I usually do quite well on the shoreline structure (points,drops, etc). On a lake that maxes at 6 feet or so you often will find me within 20 yards of shore, and you may get a few furry visitors in that close (muskrats!). If you can find a sharp dropping ledge down here park on it, they will come, even if it is only a few inches. Had I not talked to you and Boilerguy on Sarah that Friday I most likely would have setup close to his house or closer to shore. On the "cereal bowl" lakes (without points or any other real structure) I seem to do the best in the middle of the lake. Trust us there are some big walleyes around here. Good luck!

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Learning2Fish

Thanks boilerguy, i total forgot about lime, corebella, fox,Cottonwood, Timber, Eagle, and Bingham Lake.

I haven't fished perch or crappie for a long time so i kinda totally overlook those lakes. The last time i fished lime for northerns all i ended up with was a snapping turtle.

My favorite lake though would be okabena. Just mainly due to the walleye fishing. Granted this year i've been struggling to figure out the patterns.

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UMDSportsman

wow, that is a lot of info on a lot of lakes. Wish i had more time to explore more lakes. I am now reduced to a weekend warrior (started new job yesterday). Thanks for all the info guys.

TO- I know what you mean about scouting in the summer, i spent a week down here at the end of the summer (before school started) and found a couple good spots, one rock pile, and one small hole. Man i wish i had a GPS when i found them. both kind of in the middle of no where.

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Eric Wettschreck

I'll be out fishing this weekend. Drop me a line if you want to tag along. I have no idea what lake I'll be attacking, tho.

The weather is supposed to be nice over the weekend and I can't think of a better way to spend a nice winter day than being on the lake.

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Team Otter

wow, that is a lot of info on a lot of lakes

And that is what FM's all about...

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Eric Wettschreck

Originally Posted By: UMDSportsman
wow, that is a lot of info on a lot of lakes

And that is what FM's all about...

Yup!!!!

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basssmasher*

Boiler, you ever fish clear lake just east of Dundee?? We used to hammer jumbo perch there as well but that was a few yrs ago.. I used to live in sanborn and wouldn't mind hitting the ol stomping grounds again.. lemme know if you have some free time , mebbe we can hook up if ya like,, thanks!

TJ

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basssmasher*

WOW just noticed I'm finally over 1000 posts!! lol

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landscaper

few questions:

-How/where do you set up around the "aeration systems" ppl say they attract fish and some say it dont matter? whats your opinion?

-How many fish around the Marshall area? (lake names)

-How many have some trouble fishing this winter with all the snow??

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Eric Wettschreck

Yes I've fished Clear Lake. A few years ago we did real well on big perch, since then it's been small ones. I'm not saying there arn't big ones in there, but I have not caught them in the past couple years.

Myself, I stay away from the airators. I know a lot of guys like to set up next to them, and I understand why. I have a couple theories about airators;

1) they are good for lakes.

2) Lots of guys set up next to them.

3) I like to fish away from crowds so I avoid airators.

4) Thin Ice signs are there for a reason.

5) I believe in creating my own "Hot bite." Yes, there are fish near the airator for obvious reasons. However, I feel there are as many or more fish, catchable sizeable fish, in other areas.

The Marshall area I am admittadly not familiar with.

The snow creates some problems. I'm lucky as I have a plow truck and easy access to a skid loader. So getting on the lake isn't really a problem after a bit of work. I don't have a snowmobile any more, I have a 4 wheeler. Getting around on some area lakes is a bit of a challenge, but it's worth it to me. My feelings are, if it were easy everyone would do it.

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Learning2Fish

The closest lakes i ever fish near marshall would be sara and shetek which aren't all that close. But benton is another good lake to try or LQP.

The only way i'll fish near areation systems is by foot/portable.

I'm unsure fishing near the areation system is any better or not to be honest.

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muc33

From Marshall you have the option of heading to LQP, Yankton in Balaton, Hendricks, Lake Benton, Sarah all around half hour or less.

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crothmeier

I heard Bingham summer killed this past summer. Is that correct?

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TJsnipehunter

Learning2Fish-"Can anyone say whats all in Clear lake over by jackson?"

Was there a couple weeks ago in not so great weather, did catch a few small walleyes. Nothing to get too excited about. Not sure what else is in there.

Aerators-

Does anyone know if those guys who set up near aerators catch fish? My theory on them is that you want to be a good distance away from them. By moving the water they mix the water column in that area and cool down the bottom. They also create a current that should take the O2 in the water away from the open hole in the ice. I don't think fish in a lake would seek out colder moving water in the winter unless the O2 levels really drop in that body of water. I would rather not prove my theory by fishing near them, although on Mountain Lake I was about 75-100 yards from the opening and noticed no water movement and the ice was thickest there. That place is so shallow I don't know how the aerator affects it. I've seen very noticeable currents in deeper lakes.

btw Years ago I saw a guy and kid walk up to an aerator opening and start to cast. I was sure I was going to see them go in. Thankfully they didn't catch anything and left after only a few casts.

Tim

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • TAJ
      I agree with Rayguy. A lot of ecological changes happening everywhere and I think we’re seeing that on the Whitefish chain. Keep looking for new spots and new structure. Fish are still there. It’ll be interesting to see how Fall fishing goes. I am planning on fishing the next couple of days. I’ll let you know how I do. 
    • Cliff Wagenbach
      Ace is right, no need to run to far to find walleyes! They are all over the East end where you will be staying. The number one rule is "trust your depth finder"! I never fish a spot unless I see a few fish there! Lindy rigs, spinner rigs, slip bobber rigs, and jigs will all catch walleyes that time of the year. Cliff
    • bluewater2
      Thank you, my husband and I usually go to Kabetogama . but we are going to go later, had a chance to go here for the first time(Labor day weekend)and are excited to try it. Found a private cabin to rent very reasonable in that bay.
    • Borch
      I fished most of the lake in scout mode today.  Found walleyes early on midlake humps and bars in 18-24 fow.  Got a couple to go on jigging raps but then they shut off.  Spent the rest of the day trying to pin down a panfish pattern.  Found good numbers of sunfish in shallow cabbage beds(6-9 fow).  None were huge but good numbers of 8-8 1/2" gills.  A few crappies are mixed in with them and some are suspending off the break.  There are also good numbers of sunfish in or just outside the reeds.   Most of the sunfish ran smaller though although there were some keepers there too.  Pike and bass I did not target but saw others do so successfully.   Plenty of bass in the reeds and spinnerbaits seemed to be what most were using.   Troll over the weeds and you will be rewarded with pike.
    • Borch
      I fished most of the lake in scout mode today.  Found walleyes early on midlake humps and bars in 18-24 fow.  Got a couple to go on jigging raps but then they shut off.  Spent the rest of the day trying to pin down a panfish pattern.  Found good numbers of sunfish in shallow cabbage beds(6-9 fow).  None were huge but good numbers of 8-8 1/2" gills.  A few crappies are mixed in with them and some are suspending off the break.  There are also good numbers of sunfish in or just outside the reeds.   Most of the sunfish ran smaller though although there were some keepers there too.  Pike and bass I did not target but saw others do so successfully.   Plenty of bass in the reeds and spinnerbaits seemed to be what most were using.   Troll over the weeds and you will be rewarded with pike.
    • Borch
      I fished most of the lake in scout mode today.  Found walleyes early on midlake humps and bars in 18-24 fow.  Got a couple to go on jigging raps but then they shut off.  Spent the rest of the day trying to pin down a panfish pattern.  Found good numbers of sunfish in shallow cabbage beds(6-9 fow).  None were huge but good numbers of 8-8 1/2" gills.  A few crappies are mixed in with them and some are suspending off the break.  There are also good numbers of sunfish in or just outside the reeds.   Most of the sunfish ran smaller though although there were some keepers there too.  Pike and bass I did not target but saw others do so successfully.   Plenty of bass in the reeds and spinnerbaits seemed to be what most were using.   Troll over the weeds and you will be rewarded with pike.
    • Rick
      No brush or yard waste burning today through Sunday The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert for today through Sunday for northern Minnesota.    As a result, the Department of Natural Resources will not issue burning permits for brush or yard waste for all areas north of Alexandria, including Mille Lacs and Pine counties. Burn restrictions may expand as smoke from the Canadian fires drifts south. For updates and the air quality forecast, check the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website. Discuss below - to view set the hook here.
    • guideman
      If you are looking for Walleyes stay on the east end. There is no need to go running all over the lake to catch them. Daisy bay has Walleyes available as does Big bay which in my opinion has some of the best Walleye fishing on the lake.  Trolling cranks works this time of year, as well as Lindy rigging, or pulling spinners on a bottom bouncer. You can also find some decent evening slip bobber fishing close to where you are staying.  Good luck and have fun, you won't be disappointed.     "Ace" "It's just fishing man".   
    • guideman
      Anyone that takes 16 years to boat a Muskie most likely doesn't target them all the time.  I average one Muskie every time I go out on Vermilion. It really isn't that hard if you do your homework and do the little things that it takes to be successful. Get out there and cast, cast, cast until your arms fall off.     "Ace"   "It's just fishing man"   
    • bluewater2
      Was wondering if anyone could give me some pointers on fishing the lake, we will be staying at a cabin by Daisy Bay / Arrow Head point. Not asking for your hot spots, just wondering if the area where the cabin is, if fishing for Walleye is close by. I here talk about east vs. west side. Not sure what that means? Any help would be great.