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Metro Area Minnesota Fishing Reports by Matt Johnson


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Simple question ... what is the depth when reports are calling for "deeper" water? I realize every ones opinion will be different ... but a general depth?

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Well... Minnesota definitely showed its colors in the last couple weeks... -60 windchill one day, to 40 degrees just a few days later!  No doubt a season where you need to "prepare for the elements!" 

Sure would be nice to have some stable weather!  Warm, cold, warm, cold, cloudy, sunny, windy, snow.... Lol. Most inconsistent winter I've seen in a long time!  It definitely keeps us on our toes and

Some good news and some bad news over the last week...  good news is that we made more ice!!  Bad news is that the fish keep moving (STAY PUT FISHY'S!!! LOL)!!    I'm finding 12-16" of ice o

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Matt Johnson

Deep is relative depending on the lake you're fishing, but my general term when referring to deep is moving out passed the 20' mark and sometimes into 30 feet. I never fish deeper than 40' and only seldom even go past 30...

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Matt Johnson

Yes... I actually fished that lake a few times a couple years back. A lot of sunfish in there, which was what we were targeting. Caught a few decent ones but we had to move a lot to stay on them... deeper water (22-28 feet) and on the bottom if I remember right, definitely basin fish... hopefully you got on them...

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wachmonster

Yeah I found them, caught a round mix of sunny, crappie and perch moving around the hole in the middle. No walleye frown bit the fish in that lake hug the bottom tight and only come up about 16 inches for bait

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Hey Matt! I fished horse shoe reef pretty heavy this weekend and could not find a pan fish to save a life. I sight fished the weeds and saw nothing then moved out a bit and could only get perch to bite, although I did manage some decent sized ones for the metro. any tips on where else to look for some fryable pannies out there?

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Matt Johnson

chuckwagon,

Did you try Little Horseshoe? I always do better there... right where the weeds start to sparse out in about 10-13 feet of water. Generally the crappies sit in those areas. If that spot doesn't pan out then move along the weed line to the north towards the mouth of Peavy and you usually find fish... it's definitely a run-and-gun spot but once you find them you can usually sit and fish the night bite... otherwise a little birdie told me the weed line south of Goose Island in Spring Park Bay is holding fish wink

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I did not try little horse shoe .... thanks for the tips. I was on some crappies tonight but couldnt get them to bite haha its always somthing with me! Thanks for the info Matt!

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pikeguy2003

Matt, fished the area by goose island that you are talking about on Saturday. There is a crappie bite that is okay at sundown. There is a group of houses there as well as another group by the other island to the north. If you come on the lake by the park there are two ice roads. One to each group, and between the roads there are thin ice signs. I highly recommend staying on the roads. Apparently there is a spring where the thin ice signs are at. There was about 15 inches of ice from what I could tell on Saturday, but it isn't what I would call solid ice. The top 6-7 inces is white, and the ice below that is clear solid ice. I really don't see with these temps how it can hold vechicles much longer. I know guys with perms in both of these locations and some of them are taking there wheel houses off today. They were saying that the ice is rapidly deteriorating under there houses. I am hoping to be out there on Friday night with my four wheeler and portable. If any fm's are out there feel free to stop by and say hi. Grey Honda with a red seat and Frabill GT Prowler. Stay safe everyone!

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Matt Johnson

The ice around those islands can be weird. Not sure if it's current that runs around through there or what, but many years the ice is not as good in those spots. Good point on being cautious, definitely not worth risking anything. Worse case scenario you park and walk a couple hundred yards to get on fish... no snow makes for easy pulling so it's not too bad...

The community holes by the islands usually get pounded, I usually like to break away from the crowd and fish weed lines in those areas...

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I just got back from the community hole north of goose ... found some eater bluegill in 8 to 10 feet. Just before dark I shoot some sonar through the slopy wet ice and found suspended crappies with a really tight lip! Presure presure .... I did find a really good bite on gills south of goose but most were small. Made for a fun outing today! What is with the massive white tent south of pelican point with a full on rock band playing in it? I also saw the gnarlyest wheel house ever next to the white tent .... has a huge ocean scean on it. Anyone have any info on the croud over there? I second the thin ice signs ... hard to see in dark. Travel slow and safe. If I see your wheeler out there ill stop by. Thanks for the pointers Matt

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Matt Johnson

Well, this past week has been a weird one. For starters, the media has had a field day with the ice conditions and vehicles going through the ice. Our ice is not as bad as they make it seem. Could it be better? You bet, but a little commonsense can go a long ways in staying above the ice. Many of the spots I've heard about where cars are going through are over areas where bad ice is typically reported, or they try to hop a ridge/heave of some sort. Bottomline, no matter the season or year we're having, don't risk anything when out on the ice and check even a second or third if you're uncertain about the ice conditions.

Now, moving onto the fun stuff... the fishing in general has been decent lately. I'm finding mainlake structure to really be turning on. Fish have located out over mainlake areas and are actually holding steady so we can catch more than just a couple out of each hole. We've actually been flipping the Traps and staying put for periods of time. So, if you get the chance to venture out over mainlake structure give it a whirl and fire up the auger. Humps, saddles/bars, reefs... a lot of options for structure out there... and fish are using it.

Otherwise the shallow weed bite continues as well... and should continue right through ice-out. Weeds are still present in full-force in many lakes and you can expect to find sunfish, crappies, perch, pike, walleye and bass to be following the pattern. We've sight-fished pretty much all of the above in shallow areas lately. However, don't be afraid to attack the weeds in the 8-15 foot range too... those deeper weed spots are also producing.

We have seen some positive results deadsticking small crappie minnows in the weeds for big sunfish too. Plastics and maggots are taking the numbers of fish, but a lively SMALL minnow is cleaning up the big ones. Something that might be worth a shot for those of you beating around in the weeds without much for fish size. We've seen that to hold true several times now... and I'm not one for minnows so take it for what it's worth.

Otherwise we're going to see some cold weather for a change which should lock things up again and possibly even add another inch or two of ice by the time the weekend rolls around... at least one can hope! smile

Good luck out there and be safe!!

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I also saw the gnarlyest wheel house ever next to the white tent .... has a huge ocean scean on it.

I saw that house last Thursday night out by Goose Island, i thought that paintjob or whatever it is was pretty cool too.

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I have seen that house out there to i wish I had the money to get a cool looking house like that.

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Matt Johnson

I'm going to be out on Tonka this Sunday if anyone cares to join up for a little fishing. I run a winter fishing league and we're making a stop on Tonka... Maxwell Bay to be exact. I don't compete in the league just oversee things. So if anyone wants to meet up out there on Sunday we can try and beat up some ice and see what bites...

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fishersofmen

Matt are you finding fish that are in an extremely negative mood the last few days? This week has been very slow for me. I am marking fish, specifically crappies, but they won't bite on anything. I have marked them in several different spots on this particular lake (30ft, 20ft, 15ft) with the same results. Last night they were stacked up 10ft off the bottom. What would you recommend in this situation. Keep moving until I find takers, move to a different lake, or thats fishing deal with it?

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I had the same problem with walleyes last night. I was seeing fish, but they would barely follow and would not bite. I tried about everything in the box.

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Matt Johnson

One thing I've noticed lately that's been working is to leave the glow at home... meaning I've been switching to non-glow jigs and it's helped me pick up a few more fish. Not sure why exactly, but it's been working. I've even tied on some all black jigs/plastics which have done the trick as well... however natural colors like browns, dark greens and even purples have caught fish. Might be worth a shot where you guys are fishing too?

Otherwise as far as fish location goes, I've definitely been relating to structure... get away from deep holes and flats... get out over a piece of main lake structure if you're going to camp out... otherwise go up into the shallow weeds and beat those areas up...

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Good tips Matt! I've been trying many different spots on local lakes also and I can say that I've been having the best luck in shallow waters next to heavy weeds right at sundown.

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Matt,

I've been fishing a weeds from 8-12fow. When I fish the weedline in 12fow the size of blugills averages 7"-8". When I move shallower into about 9fow the bulls are there. fish from 8 1/2"-10 1/2" are the norm with very few smaller fish. Is this normal. I would expect the bigger fish to be right on the weed line. This has proven the same the past three weeks. I've never ice fished weeds much until late winter. Is this pattern similar on other lakes?

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jjohnson5150

I'm going to be out on Tonka this Sunday if anyone cares to join up for a little fishing. I run a winter fishing league and we're making a stop on Tonka... Maxwell Bay to be exact. I don't compete in the league just oversee things. So if anyone wants to meet up out there on Sunday we can try and beat up some ice and see what bites...

What time do you guys start? I may stop out there.

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Matt Johnson

Nathansdad,

That is very common with bigger sunfish... they generally get big because they seek refuge in the thick vegetation... plus the forage base in the weeds can be amazing, even in the dead of winter and in shallow water. Outside weed lines definitely hold fish, but like you've found out, it's a numbers game more than a size game. If you look at a lot of outstanding big sunfish lakes, they offer-up a large shallow weed flat that typically scares most anglers off because they don't like fishing in the thick weeds... case-in-point: the big gills like sitting inside the thick weeds smile I say it all the time and some people just shrug their shoulders, but weeds are HUGE when looking for big fish, and deep inside the weeds can be one of the best places to start looking...

jjohnson5150,

Sorry buddy... I just saw this post now. You didn't miss much on Sunday. The bite was pretty tough and we couldn't muster many (if any) big fish. Soem spots kicked out some good numbers but if you want big fish Maxwell is not the bay to be on...

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Matt Johnson

Move... Move... Move... that is the name of the game right now! I'm not saying that because the fish are being finicky, I'm saying it more on the lines that the weather is too darn nice to just sit inside a fish house so having the ability to aggressively hole hop needs to join the equation... we now have an excellent chance to stay on top of active fish and cash in on the rewards!

That being said, get out over the mainlake structure and chase down the fish. Punch holes until you arms are numb and then cycle through the holes until you get bored of catching fish smile Biggest key right now is to focus on structure and areas immediately adjacent to structure (mainlake structure). With the little or no snow cover we have on the ice we can move around pretty easy out there. So regardless of your mode of transportation, stay on the move and keep after the fish.

I've switched over to nothing but tungsten jigs so I can get down fast yet stay small and effective. Seems to be working very well. We've also caught a lot of fish on small W3 Jigging Rapalas and Size 3 Salmo Chubby Darters... and we're talking panfish here--gills and slabs. These more aggressive options seem to really pull out of the larger fish in each pod, then we switch over to the tungsten jig and try to add a few more runs onto scoreboard.

Another important tip I want to add... and this covers both mobility and safety... get a good pair of ice cleats and wear them!! I've seen/heard about too many people falling on the ice this year because of the lack of snow and ice conditions and it can be greatly avoided with a nice pair of ice cleats. I've been wearing the Kahtoola MICROspikes for several years now and they are AMAZING! A little spendy at $60 retail but worth every penny. Most places that carry them will probably offer a deal right now too. But regardless, get a pair of ice cleats and stay safe out there!

Otherwise more warm weather is ahead of us... wish the forecast called for highs in the single digits but not quite... however it's comfortable to be outside so I guess we can't have everything!

Be safe and good luck!!

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TomWehler

grin

Screw in a few sheet metal screws into yer boot heels an mid out sole.

..$1

Or screw into old rubber bungie strap an loop on...one size fits all also.

grin

Never ever slip, fall or go broke.

Use the $59 you save to take yer wife or girlfriend or MOM n Dad out to dinner.

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Matt Johnson

Oh Tom... always good to hear from you smile Hope things are going well up your way! I supposed you're actually down near the Chisago Area this time of year though? Hoping to hit Vermillion this summer possibly...

As far as fishing goes... we've had some tight-lipped fish lately. We can find them, they are just more hesitant to bite as of late. Still catching a few but we really need to coax them. Oddly enough it's the larger fish that slam the bait and need no teasing... which I can't complain but still frustrating that the "masses" are more reluctant to bite... we need action! smile

However, I'm thinking this upcoming snow will put them back into gear... let's hope we don't see too much of it as our lakes are already hurting for quality ice... it's a catch-22 though, because we also need more water come spring... I guess you can't always have your cake a eat it too wink

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TomWehler

grin

Hello Matt, yes Chisago woods for the winter, Island on Vermilion for the summer. Any time yer heading up thataway, just make the call. Maybe I can point ya out some places to start yer fishen fun adventure for time yer up? At least offer up some lunch on the island. The boyz an I mostly alone ice out to Halloween... except for weekends when Bonnie Bean drives up.

If the Island be a rocken---don't come a knocken! shocked

Had Sprots hernia in my abdomine fixed at Christmas...when cutter gets in, well she finds FOUR Hernias, some adheisinons an junk from past surgery did not show on CT scan..... crazy

What should have taken 1 hour took 3...plus over night stay in st. Johns my fave place to get fixed up when I bust me up!

LOL x 100

Sew them shut with what looked like 100LB Spiderwire STEALTH an added two 4" x 8" patches of MESH to boot!

Doing good now.

But long winter doing nothing but healing, reading, watchen movies, bad TV shows an lots of WCHA & NHL Hockey x 100 an also slowly working gut back into shape.

Walking 2.5 miles a day now an feeling great...but no lifting for a bit yet.

My mind is 16 but my body..well at 56 I'm paying for my youth...but what a time I had!!!

grin

Weird but still bend funny in middle, but painless.

shocked ...feels like I swallowed me a FRABIL Walleye Scooper net!!! eek

No ice fishen yet as don't want to rip open or mess things up inside guts they fixed or anything like that...OH NO.

Be back to just being me, the one an only Musky T. by spring.

Enoy reading your fishen reports & updates.

PLUS the lake or structure break downs are good fun. Very good teaching or HELPING HAND info for just about anyone I would think.

Its all good as when you stop learning an sharing.....well then the fun goes away an what good is that?

A++ in all you do here for the common man an pro alike.

Good stuff.

Well nuff said from me...have fun, be safe an Keep on Rocken!

If ya see Brett E. -Just fer me - kick him in the anckle an say Tommy says Hey! grin

coolsmilegrincrazyshockedlaughgrinsmile

Hey, the screws in da boots really do work!!!

laugh

Play on!

Tommy

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Matt Johnson

I might take you up on that Tom. I know the boys are going to be up there in May and of course again in October for the school. It's funny that you mention Brett... because he's sitting right next to me right now and I had him read this, LOL. You heal up so you can throw the big baits again come summer... keep in touch...

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Matt Johnson

Yes... it is raining in the Metro Area... at least it was a couple hours ago but it might have changed to ice pellets now smile But what can I say, I'm not surprised with the season/weather we've had so far this winter. Hopefully this doesn't turn into too much snow so we can keep our ice is somewhat decent conditions for the late ice period. Although, we do need some moisture to help the lake levels, so I guess it's a catch-22.

Regardless of what the weather does, we still need to be out there chasing down some panfish! The best part of the year is upon us and the fish are starting to put on the feed bags! The shallow, expansive/weedy bays are starting to flourish with life and we're finding more and more fish beginning to move into their shallow safe havens. Granted, we're still seeing good catches out in deeper water, but my attention turns shallow at late ice... namely because I really enjoy sight fishing smile

One thing I've been using more and more is natural colored plastics, especially in the shallow weeds... and I throw glow out the window. I like browns, camo greens, blacks, blood reds, even purple... colors that better resemble aquatic morsels. Panfish like to comb the weeds for these tasty treats and I'm going to give them what they want!

So... when hitting the ice next don't drive past the best spots... make it a point to begin turning towards the shallows to see if your fish have relocated yet. You might be surprised...

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IS there deep water adjacent to the weedy bays you are describing or are these fairly consistent depth areas? What does this mean for bite timing? Are they moving in and out or primarily holding in these areas? I realize that's alot of questions but late ice tends to be extremely hit or miss for me. I really enjoy reading your posts and make an effort to soak up the knowledge. Hence all the questions! Thanks!

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