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West Metro - Minnetonka, Waconia, Prior Lake Fishing Reports by Great Day on the Water Guide Service


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Troy Smutka

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Ice conditions still vary greatly from lake to lake. While seven to ten iches of pretty good ice, due to our lack of snow cover, is common, still use caution.

 

Channel areas on Minnetonka, for example, may have much less ice than that. Walking, with or without a portable house like a Clam Fish Trap is a safe bet on Prior and Waconia, and many areas of Minnetonka. ATVs should be cautious, and I would wait to put out wheel houses, especially with another four day stretch of near-record to record temps that is upon us.

 

Panfish are biting on Waconia and Prior. They are working deep water already, 18 to 23 feet, probably due to no snow cover on top of relatively thin ice for this time of year.

 

Try the center of deep bays or coves, or the deep basin areas not too far from bays or shoreline points. We are catching bluegills all day, with peak time being early in the morning, and AFTER DARK.

 

Crappies are getting nocturnal, so try staying out after dark. Small jigs with waxies or micro-sized Gulp! are catching both, and a crappie minow under a float is catching crappies and even some waleyes and pike in these same areas. Good luck, and be safe!

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Troy Smutka

January 15th Prior Lake Ice Fishing Report

About 10.5 to 11 inches of ice on Prior this weekend. Good late afternoon and early evening bite on Saturday. Lots of 8 to 9" bluegills on Fatboys and Gill Pills tipped with live waxies and Bekley Gulp! 1" Fish Fry. Several 9 to 11" crappies taken jigging same combo. Red and white was best color combo. Several crappies also caught on second line with crappie minnow on glow Creep Worm hung under a float. Fish active in 21 to 22 feet of water. Saturday morning was just bluegills. Good bite, but more small ones mixed in with the larger ones. Cold snap coming this week should make some good ice with no snow on top. Stay safe and see you out there.

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Thanks for the report Troy. Understanding that it is never safe, are there ATV's out on the lake now?

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fishin4fun85

there were atv's and sleds where I was on prior....we didn't have much luck anywhere we tried....we were right where upper and lower come together....any hint on where were u fishin smuts?

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Troy Smutka

Hooksetter,

There are ATV's and snowmobiles on the lake. A few wheelhouses out, but mostly portables. Did see a pickup pull a wheel house out to drop it off and then leave on Saturday. The truck might be pushing it, but plenty of ice for the ATV's and sleds.

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Troy Smutka

Fishin4fun85,

I have been fishing the NE portion of Lower Prior. Deep water near a reef, and deep center of a bay/cove are holding fish. Bite varies with the weather.

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I've been fishing areas lake between Waconia, NYA and Chanhassen. Majority lake there are about 7-8in ice.. You gotta love those lakes in the SW area. Caught alot of decent size 6-10in crappies in chanhassen lakes. Hydes been pretty good, with decent size panfish. Tiger is just a boom or bust. But all fish i caught yesterday are still swimming today. goodluck, b-safe.

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We are in that same area of Prior and are having good success as well though of my four neighbors who all have permanent houses in this area we have yet to see a sunfish over 7". Three are retired and fish every day. Crappies slightly larger but for every crappie we have been picking up 20 sunfish. We are set up in 20' to 21' feet of water. Plenty of ATV's on the ice but be careful in the channel areas as there is some very sketchy ice.

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My lower back would like to say it is plenty excited about using the ATV for the first time this season. I can't remember a time when I dragged that tub over dirt and rocks more than this year. Thanks for the reports!

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muskiemanHunter

wondering about going to either spring lake, (near prior lake) or would lake waconia be a better option for this coming weekend? Want to catch walleye, crappie and possibly northerns on some tips ups? any info would greatly be appreciated!

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Troy Smutka

ackrite78,

Sorry--I have not been to Parley, and I haven't heard any reports about it this year.

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Troy Smutka

muskiemanHunter

The evening and night crappie bite has started on Waconia. Set up over the deep water adjacent to several of the shallower reefs on Waconia, such as Pilsbury, Cemetery, or Anderson's. Have one set-line per angler, with a crappie minnow under a float, set four to six feet off the bottom. Then each angler can jig closer to the bottom with a small jig like a Gill Pill, Fat Boy, or Frostee, tipped with a live waxie or a 1" Berkley Gulp! Fish Fry. A small jigging spoon like a Frostee Jig tippped with a minnow head will work, too. Start fishing about an hour before sunset, and be willing to stay out well after dark. Watch your electronics closely. The crappies will usually pass through in groups, and they can be near the bottom, just a few feet below the ice, or anywhere in between. When you see high fish on your electronics, believe it and slowly reel your jigging presentation up above the fish. Jig to attract fish, but crappies usually like the bait still to bite it. Watch your rod tip carefully (a spring bobber can help)because a crappie bite after dark can be very subtle. Make sure you can see the float on your set line as crappies will grab this at the same time you are watching another fish on your electronics. It can get very busy when a pack of crappies swims through. I was up at Mille Lacs this past weekend, but I got a report of 12 to 13 inches of ice on Waconia. Check before you drive a vehicle out. Good luck!

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Troy Smutka

jay83196,

I haven't been out to Minnetonka in a few weeks--have been on Prior, Waconia, and Mille Lacs, so I don't have any recent reports for tipping out there. Main lake reefs are usually the best bet for tipping pike or walleyes on Tonka by this time of year. Shallower early and late in the day, and then off the reef in deep water during the day. One tip for pike--dead bait. Pike get to be scavengers by February, and a frozen smelt or shiner, or even a Berkley Gulp! or Power Bait 4 to 6" minnow laying on the bottom is often more attractive than a struggling sucker. Best bet is to try both live and dead bait on multiple sets, and let the fish tell you what they want. If I have suckers die in the bucket, I will freeze them in a ziploc to use for this dead bait approach. Good luck!

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muskiemanHunter

Thankyou Smuts for the crappie info. Any other info related to walleyes on waconia. Anyone having luck out there?

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Smuts,

Are the reefs out on Waconia crowded now or not quite yet? Was thinking about fishing off of Anderson's some time soon. Have you been targeting a certain bottom content or sticking to certain depths? Were there any deep weeds still green out there anywhere that you know of? Sorry for the barrage of questions. Thanks for any advice you are willing to share!

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Troy Smutka

muskiemanHunter,

Walleyes have been sporadic. Some are being caught around the deep edges of the reefs, right at the weedline. That has been early, late, and at night. I have heard of a few accidental fish on tipups set for pike on the weededge outside of Waconia Bay, again late in the day.

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Troy Smutka

PFUNK,

The reefs just started getting busy this past weekend. I don't know of any deep green weeds out at Waconia. For crappies, I have been fishing in the low 20's over soft bottom near shallower reefs. That deeper water is the warmest water now, and has the most dissolved oxygen. The deep, soft bottoms are where the larvae/insect activity will be for another four to six weeks, so that is where many of the minnows and panfish, especially crappies, will congregate. Good luck--may see you out there this weekend.

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I fished around center reef today ... the west side produced only perch. the east side got me into some blue gills and a couple crapies. The east side I was in about 10 FOW and left just after sundown due to the wind. I was planning on moving deeper off the reef but never got to. Should i be looking in anouther part of the lake for crappies? or did I just not stay out long enough?

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I fished the west side of Wayzata bay Friday afternoon. Measured 13" of ice over there. Saw a few trucks on the ice. I would imagine that tomorrow will bring more vehicles out there, with the colder night/day.

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Troy Smutka

chuckwagon,

The deep basin areas off of Cemetery, Pilsbury, and Anderson Reefs are often the best spots for mid-winter crappies on Waconia. Look for water depths in the low to mid 20's, and you will usually have to stay out after dark. Make sure you have a sonar to watch for crappies swimming through suspended. Good luck!

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Troy Smutka

muskiemanHunter,

Fantastic! Headed up to Mille Lacs again this weekend, but then hoping to do some evenings for crappies out on Waconia. Good luck this weekend:)

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SouperStar22

Hows the report doin in the Browns Bay was thinkin maybe I could head that way sometime this week

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Troy Smutka

chuckwagon,

I haven't ventured out to Waconia lately. Reports are of varying ice conditions. I have heard of 14 inches, but someone who lives on the lake has also reported a small area of open water near the west end just over a week ago! I know some vehicles are driving out there, but I would be very careful.

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Troy Smutka

We were our on Prior this weekend. 15 inches of O.K. ice where we fished. About half of the people were driving out, the other half (including us) were walking or riding ATVs. After looking over the ice and hearing and feeling the cracking when trucks drove by, I am glad we walked. Saturday the fishing was slow, Sunday things improved some. The fish were showing up in much better numbers Sunday, but they still had to be coaxed to bite. We used very small Gill Pills and Fatboys with a small, single waxie. Had to hold it still once a fish approached, and give him a lot of time to look it over. Most of the bluegills we caught were very nice ones. A few smallish crappies and a couple small bass filled out the bag. We were fishing over the soft basin in 21 feet of water near a shallow weedy reef. Good luck, and be careful on the ice. Remember that Hennepin County lakes are off limits to cars, trucks, and SUVs, and an ATV went through on Sarah on Saturday. All metro area lakes should be approached with extreme caution when thinking of driving out. Safest bet is to walk--we all can use the exercise:) If you want to drive out, maybe head north. We were on Mille Lacs two of the past three weekends, and the ice is much better. The walleyes are committing suicide--we iced fish from 14 to 29 inches, and a lot of them. Several big perch mixed in as well.

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Was out on Wayzata bay this afternoon. Wow - pull the plug on vehicle traffic, and it becomes incredibly quiet out there. I guess walking is too much work these days. Did not see another fisherman out there all afternoon.

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cavalierowner

I was out on Carsons Bay yesterday morning and there was just one other person I could see on the entire bay. But then it was a weekday. I was surprised at how much the fishing had slowed down compared to last Tuesday when I was out there.

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