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It's PANFISH time! By Chris Haley

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Well everybody it's here. My personal favorite time of the winter to fish. Perch are moving and feeding and the Crappie and Bluegill are thinking the same with them.

This last weekend I was out with some friends. We fished Perch on Sat. and found them in 18-30 feet. Fishing was good with 40 9"-12" fish coming in about 2 hrs. The key being a lot of holes. Panfish of all species will mill around during the day. Many holes allows you to walk around and follow the milling school.

Our best success for the whole weekend (Crappies included) was to look for the hard to soft bottom transition line. All the fish we caught (Perch Sat. and Crappies Sun.) Came from these areas. The mud is giving up blood worms and larvae, this is why the fish are here. A majority of lakes, the soft(mud) bottom was in about 40ft. Drill a bunch of holes, walk around and look for lines on your depth finder. I did not fish a single hole this weekend unless it had lines down there waiting for me. Some holes on Sun had 5-10 lines before I even put my line down. Once these spots are found, fish above the lines trying to entice a taker up. I would wait until I saw a line on the move and as it got closer to my jig I would reel up ahead of it bringing it up even higher. The higher you can get them, the better chance of a hit. I'm not sure if my theory is correct or not. I believe that the higher in the water column the less pressure on the fish, giving the fish the same sensation as needing to fill the stomach. I don't know maybe I'm wrong, but I sure catch a lot more bringing them up than taking them down.

Another very important factor is rod selection. I like a VERY sensitive tip, and the longer I can get with that sensitive tip the better. I also love spring bobbers, my favorite being the metal tape type. I like to bend it upward so that when I put my jig down the spring is straight our from the tip. This way when a fish hits it in an upward motion, the springs bends upward. Set the hook!!!!!!

I hope this info will help you to get out on the ice and be more successful!

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Great report Chris! I wish I was able to enjoy the weather you have had there lately and get in on my favorite time of the ice season as well!

I have been down in TN the last 3 weeks working, so missed out on the blizzard too. One more week here and then 2 in Washington and then back to Bemidji through fall!!! Bring on open water!

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chris how much ice is left i am trying to come home in the next week what does it look like

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Drivable with just about anything.


There is still a solid 3' left and with the 5 degrees last night, the landings should hold up through the weekend.

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hey chris i did not make it up lat week but am coming up on thursday night what you predicting is there going to be ice or am i done for the year

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I'm kind of waiting to see myself. If we get freezing temps over night for the next couple nights, we'll be good to go. I'm hoping for another weekend. I only fished 6 different lakes last weekend. I have a few more I want to hit.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • redlabguy
      Mark, Glad your crew had another great outing. It’s always good to read your reports. Just wish there were more of them like the old days. Sorry you hit the storm. One of the worst in our 14 years. We’ll be dealing with dock issues for a long time but nothing like the good folks in Cook have.  The fishing has come around a little since the storm. Definitely nightcrawler now. I don’t get far out of Frazer but the reefs are where the action is. Looking forward to hearing from you in September.  My best to you and Linda, RLG p.s. Our good old red lab, Ole, cashed it in last summer, but we have a 6 month old lab now who is learning the ropes up here (and teaching us we’re older than we think we are!)
    • Mike89
    • leech~~
      No can see?  
    • smurfy
      yeppers......nuttin more aggravating the boat motor issues!!!!!!!   what was the problem the first time???????
    • Hookmaster
      Nice fish Kettle. Hope it's really "fixed" next time.
    • Rivergroup
      Our group will be returning in September as well. Wish we were able to be there now to lend a hand.
    • smurfy
      dang...tough to hear..........hope the good people up there recover soon!!!!!!!!!
    • MarkB
      We just returned this afternoon from 6 days on Vermilion. We arrived Saturday and enjoyed 3 fantastic days of walleye fishing. My cousin, our friend Greg, and myself fished several of our spring spots and found fish on all of them. Water temperatures were pretty much 65-67 degrees everywhere we fished. The wind was variable and made boat control a challenge at times. Bait was not an issue and we had success on crawlers(Tim), leeches(Greg), and minnows(me). If I had to pick one of those as catching the most fish, it would be crawlers. Our best day totalled 48 walleyes, 4 smallmouth, and 2 big JUMBOS. We ended up with over a hundred walleyes, 12 jumbos 11"-13", and 10 smallmouth to 18". Our biggest walleye was 24.5" and the balance went from 13"-22". There are lots of 14"-16" walleyes this year which are perfect eaters. The mayfly hatch was in full bloom in some areas but we found very few mayflies in the water column over rock reefs. We caught our fish in depths ranging from 10' to 32'. I didn't fish in any area where I could see mayflies top to bottom in the water column. Slow trolling in the .3mph to .6mph worked and we caught nothing using slip bobbers. Terminal tackle was a 3'-4' 10# flurocarbon leader, 2 lime colored beads, and a plain #6 Gamakatsu walleye hook . Snags are always an issue when fishing in and around the rocks and when the fish are biting they are acceptable. NOW, for the bad news.......Tuesday was a day I won't soon forget. The area suffered devastating torrential rainfall. Lightning was non-stop for several hours and when things settled down, flood damage was everywhere. We checked our rain guage on the side of the cabin and we got 7 3/4 " in a little over 4 hours! Breezy Point road washed out, Mud Creek road washed out as did several others in the area. Cooke business area was completely covered with flood water. I would consider it a disaster area and should be declared as such. We couldn't find a dock anywhere that wasn't covered with water. People were stranded behind flood covered and washed out roads. Dock decking, limbs and such were floating everywhere in the big water. My group sends our prayers to the people of that beautiful country that lost their businesses, homes, and suffered damage to their lake properties. The people of that north country are resilient and we have confidence that they will recover. We stayed our final 3 days but didn't fish at all Tuesday. Our last 2 days showed the effects of the storm. Water temps dropped to 64 degrees and our premo fishing became 10 walleye days. We did manage to catch a dozen really nice jumbos. We plan on returning in September and we pray the area will have returned to normal by then. I haven't figured out how to transfer photos from my phone to my computer yet so no pictures at this time. Good Fishing and God be with you. MarkB
    • SkunkedAgain
      Word is that the river has peaked and therefore the town can start the process of recovering sooner.
    • smurfy
      Heard that too. Also heard 38 was closed for a but north of rapids due to flooding.    I know the water really came up when I was up last week compared to when I was there in April. 
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