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Mississippi Backwater Fishing Reports - Winona Wabasha Lawrence Lake


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I ended back at the Lawrence Lake Marina yesterday, and it was pretty much a repeat of the previous day. Sunnies hitting both waxies and spikes with a bit of coaxing, and a few crappie mixed in. Some sorting was required, but I left with seven bluegill and three crappie, including those below. No action on the tip-up.

full-3973-43749-3_23_14lawrencecrappie.j

full-3973-43750-3_23_14lawrencebluegill.

I'm hoping to get up there again next weekend, and that will be the end of this ice season for me.

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Good ice has been about ten days away for a month now in southern Minnesota.  As of today that means I hope to get up there and hit the ice by New Year's Eve, but that looks iffy at best.  

I work at an area baitshop. Here is what I have at the moment. Willow Creek 4"-6" Silver Creek 4"-6" Fosters (patchy) 3"-4" not recommended to fish here yet backwaters are patchy 2

This is too late to do anyone any good, but here is a picture from my trip to Winona the last weekend in February before the ice went out. The bluegill were hitting early in the morning on Bartle

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507_MRcrappie

if i tell you the spot wont called fishing now lol, it be called catching that wont be any fun.. look for deep holes 18-32ft the crappie be up in the 10-15ft Suspended.. used small plastic and small jigs is the key to catch them...

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leech~~

if i tell you the spot wont called fishing now lol, it be called catching that wont be any fun.. look for deep holes 18-32ft the crappie be up in the 10-15ft Suspended.. used small plastic and small jigs is the key to catch them...

grin

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507_MRcrappie

Thanks guys trying share the fishing bite hope you guys do the same, spring around the corner. Pretty pump about the high water for river walleye spring action is any one feeling the same.

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507_MRcrappie

It's been slow at Lawrence this year, good to see some fish beening caught good job JIvers keep it coming

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And thank you for the pictures from my old stomping grounds--I have a pretty good idea of where those crappies came from--and welcome to HSO!

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Evobassfish

if i tell you the spot wont called fishing now lol, it be called catching that wont be any fun.. look for deep holes 18-32ft the crappie be up in the 10-15ft Suspended.. used small plastic and small jigs is the key to catch them...

I was able to triangulate your exact location by the alignment of the clouds and the angle of the sun, although I'm not going to give away the exact location but I hammered the crappies and bull gills today. Got a nice mixed bag of jumbo perch and white bass also. The key was to punch a lot of holes then deploy the search and destroy method. Good Luck and tight lines and be safe.

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507_MRcrappie

Thanks evobass, here a clip from yesterday out. Yes the key is to punch alot of holes and don't stop until you find them. Well I did catch a fish that matches your profile name. [video:youtube]MN ice fishing 2014 Mississippi backwater: https://youtu.be/DlFxPVI92XA

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So I ran up to Lawrence Lake again yesterday morning for my last ice outing of the season, thinking that since the panfish were hitting good last weekend they would be hitting as well or better this weekend, right? Wrong. crazy

I marked some fish in the marina, but could not coax anything in to biting. No one else I talked to there had any better results.

After a couple hours of nothing at Lawrence Lake I loaded up my stuff and headed north to Winona, because when all else fails I always get drawn back to Bartlett Lake.

The fish at the airport lake backwaters were less cooperative than the fish at Lawrence Lake, because I am not sure I ever marked a fish at the Airport Lake. It was just as bad when I was last there in mid-January, which is odd because you can normally always at least find some smallish bluegills at Bartlett.

So my ice season ended with whimper, and no fried fish for supper. I should have gone out to where I think those crappies in the video came from, but I haven't fished that spot in a while so I fell back on what I knew. wink

On the plus side, the ice is still in pretty good shape: 20"+ off-shore at Lawrence Lake, and 14"+ at the airport lake in Winona. If I lived closer to Brownsville, had more time and/or gas money, and wasn't married, I might head up there again next weekend. As is, my ice gear has been stowed away until November.

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  • 7 months later...

Last year I was out on early ice at Lake Onalaska on November 30; yesterday I put in for November 21 off from work...just in case.

If the forecasts for the next nine days are right, or it turns even colder, I am not ruling out being able to get out on some smaller shallow backwaters along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border by the weekend of 11-22. If not, I should not have much longer to wait.

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  • 1 month later...

I fished Lawrence Lake by Brownsville this afternoon, now that the ice is gone down were I am now in southeast Iowa. Lawrence Lake seems to have been off for a couple years, from what I hear, but that was not the case today. cool

I went out on the ice a little after noon, and found probably twenty-five people or more already on the main lake north of the marina. The ice was still in good shape, with about 7" wherever I checked.

Shiners on tip-ups were producing a lot of Northern pike. I caught a few myself.

I was told the best panfish bite was in the morning, but I did alright later in the afternoon, including this nice sunfish:

full-3973-51845-12_13_2014lawrence8blueg

I was getting my bluegill and crappie in the weeds, with the Northern hitting my tip-up closer to the 6' channel. For every crappie or bluegill I got I had several lookers, so I did not have things dialed in quite right.

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I'd like to hear some updates myself. smirk

The forecast for ice-fishing is not looking good down my way, so I am thinking I may have to make a drive up the river this next weekend.

Hopefully I don't have to go as far as Lacrosse (or beyond), but what am I supposed to do? Stay home and not go ice-fishing?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had today off, and the water here in east central Iowa may or may not be froze up enough to fish yet, so I drove up to Lawrence Lake this morning to see how things were going there.

There was plenty of new crystal clear ice, probably seven inches where I drilled holes, and it was popping and heaving non-stop with the temps just rising above zero when I got there. The wind was actually not a problem at all until about noon when it started to pick up.

This was the view I had anywhere I looked on the lake most of the time I was there:

full-3973-52078-12_31_2014lawrence.jpg

Two guys came out right after I did, and left before me. Two more guys came out just as I was leaving, and otherwise I had the whole backwater to myself. There are four or five perms set up in the marina, but none yet on the main lake.

I have fished Lawrence Lake for years, but never on a regular basis, so I started with what works for me most of the time: I started on the edge of the far weedline in about four feet of water for panfish, and set a tip-up at the edge of the "channel" in about six feet of water. After an hour of that I never had a hit on my panfish rigs, and missed one flag.

I had my hand-held fish-finder with me, and a couple different times I had something hover a couple feet down, above my panfish rig. Whatever it was--dead or dying shad, big crappie, or a chunk of weed--had no interest in my panfish baits. So I decided to put my panfish rigs away and put my other tip-up down in one of those four-foot holes.

Not ten minutes after giving up the hunt for bluegill I caught my first Northern of the day in that four foot hole. Ten minutes more, and I caught another toothy in the same place. I don't know where the crappie and bluegill were today, but the Northern were hungry, and cruising shallower than I usually find them on Lawrence Lake.

I got my third eater Northern after a big one broke me off at the hole, and was able to pack up as the wind really started to pick up early in the afternoon. Here are the three pike I took home, with the smallest a 21" and the largest a 26":

full-3973-52079-12_31_2014lawrencenorthe

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  • 2 months later...

With the ice going out soon I drove up to the Lacrosse area yesterday, hoping to find the same good late ice panfish bite I found there last year. It did not work out. I sat on the ice at Lawrence Lake Marina for three hours, and never had a bite. I was marking stuff, but none of those marks seemed to react to my bait at all. I suspect most of those marks were water boatmen bugs or shad.

As for the ice, it was the rottenest 20" of ice I have ever seen. I had no problem getting on because I could go off the docks, and I felt perfectly safe walking on it, but the ice was weak and pulpy all the way down. My auger did not so much shave through it as rip chunks out. I had a pile of ice cubes when I was done drilling, and the edges of the holes were rough from where the auger ripped chunks of ice out. I can't believe that stuff will safe even for walking for much longer. With the fishing being awful there I don't need to worry about it.

Today I made my first trip to the Winona area for this ice season; it will also be my last trip of this season. I wanted to try Bartlett Lake, AKA the airport lake backwaters, mostly out of habit, but when I got there there were more kayakers (one) than ice fishermen (zero). There was open water all along the shoreline where I could see, and I decided not to bother walking farther down to see if the ice could still be accessed without a plank.

I drove out to Minnesota City Boat Harbor, and found both good ice and plenty of people on it. I haven't fished that spot in years, but since I was there I gave it a whirl. Two hours later I packed up and left. I saw a few bluegills caught, but did not get anything myself. It was late morning by the time I got there, well past peak hours, so maybe it would have picked up later, but that never happened at Lawrence Lake, so I packed up and called it a season.

The ice at Minnesota City seemed to be in better shape than at the marina at Brownsville, but not by a lot. The water was a little cloudy due to runoff at both places, but not what I would call un-fishable.

Now I'm going pack my ice gear away and get ready for open water down in SE Iowa.

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  • Rick unlocked and unpinned this topic

I went and fished one of my old backwater haunts around Winona a couple weeks ago. When I am back in SE Minnesota I usually concentrate on trout fishing, since salmonids, beside those stocked in ponds by the IDNR in the fall and winter, are hard to come by around Iowa City. 

Another species scarce in east central Iowa is the Northern pike: I pick up maybe two or three per year down here. With that in mind I decided to hit up one of my old pike hotspots when I was back in the Bluff Country. 

I had not fished this backwater it for at least ten years, probably more like fifteen, but found it pretty much the same as it was back in 2000. I hooked my first hammer handle five minutes in, and had my limit of pike in less than an hour. It was a cloudy, windy day, ideal for fishing shallow, with black spinnerbaits preferred over yellow. I also got some funny green things pictured below. My camera battery died right after that, so no pictures of the toothies. The biggest I got was 27".

I had a good time catching my limit of Northern, and got a good meal out of them to boot. I don't think it will be twelve years before I hit this spot again.

 

 

 

 

8-24-2015 Winona 14 Lrgemouth.JPG

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  • 2 months later...
507_MRcrappie

anyone been out to see if we have some kind of ice in the back water? getting the itch for some ice fishing.

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The earliest I would expect to find good ice around Winona or Lacrosse would be the weekend before Christmas. That is based on Accuweather's current forecast for that area.

If the Weather Channel is right we'll still be waiting for safe ice around Winona on December 20. :/

I have a bunch of time off booked for later this month, and I am hoping to be using some of it that weekend before Christmas to drive up to southern Minnesota with my ice fishing gear. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good ice has been about ten days away for a month now in southern Minnesota. :crazy:

As of today that means I hope to get up there and hit the ice by New Year's Eve, but that looks iffy at best.

 

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I know we are a ways out from fishing in the area but does anybody have any current reports? Any lakes/reservoirs skimmed over? Any up to date reports are much appreciated. 

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16 hours ago, wooknut42 said:

I know we are a ways out from fishing in the area but does anybody have any current reports? Any lakes/reservoirs skimmed over? Any up to date reports are much appreciated. 

Welcome to HSO!

I don't live in the area anymore, but I watch the forecast back home very closely this time of year.

Assuming southeast Minnesota doesn't get snow at the wrong time the week after New Year's is looking good for ice-fishing the backwaters around Winona.

The higher than normal water levels for this time of year may make things interesting as well.

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Those of us who ice-fish the Mississippi River backwaters in southeast Minnesota may be catching a bit of a break weather-wise this week.

I am guessing there is nothing more than skim ice in most backwater areas right now. If the top-end estimates of snowfall predicted for tomorrow are right I'd rather have eight inches of snow fall on open water than have it sitting on a couple inches of new ice.

Eight inches of heavy snow might be enough to sink skim ice, which would lead to the snow either melting or turning to slush. Either way it would freeze quickly enough in the colder temps coming this week.

I've been watching weather forecasts and ice reports closely for the Waseca, Faribault, and Mankato areas closely for a month now, as the small shallow lakes around those towns usually freeze up a few days ahead of the backwaters a couple hours east of them. Those lakes in south central Minnesota may be getting snow dumped on them at about the worst possible time for ice-fishing, as they are capped over, and some are apparently now just safe for walking.

 

 

 

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Hutchinator

Willow Creek had 3.5 inches Monday, I didn't have gear with me but there were a couple tents out, didn't see any fish on the ice, but that doesn't mean anything.  Anyone know if Lake Zumbro has good ice?

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Welcome to FM!

Good to see some reports for the Rochester area. I don't get up there fishing anymore myself.

I will have a backwater ice report for the Lacrosse and/or Winona area by next weekend.

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I work at an area baitshop. Here is what I have at the moment.

Willow Creek 4"-6"

Silver Creek 4"-6"

Fosters (patchy) 3"-4" not recommended to fish here yet

backwaters are patchy 2"-4" a couple guys went in at west newton the other night. Not recommended to fish here yet. 

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I took a couple days off work while I still could before tax season hits, and drove up to southeast Minnesota to check the backwaters.

I found good ice on my old stand-by of Lawrence Lake by Brownsville, and headed out on the "main lake" north of the marina.

I found about six inches of ice everywhere I looked. Most of it was cloudy on top, but there were patches of clear ice where I could plainly see the weeds in five or so feet of water underneath my feet. That ice was good, too.

The fishing wasn't so good. :crazy: I struck out on panfish, which isn't unusual for me on Lawrence Lake. I saw one crappie and a couple bluegills caught by other people, but the action was slow for everyone I talked to on the ice.

The Northern and largemouth action on tip-ups is usually pretty consistent for me there, even when the crappie and bluegill don't bite, but not this week. I caught one nice 31" pike on a tip-up (picture to be posted later), and that was it. No other flags.

The bite on the main lake at Lawrence seldom gets better as winter progresses, so if I am back there again this season it will be at the marina near ice out.

1-5-2016 Lawrence Lake 31 Northern.JPG

Edited by JIvers
Added picture of the Northern I caught.
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Evobassfish

How deep is it out there on the main lake? I've only fished near the docks, the brother and I will be out there next weekend ice trolling.

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4 hours ago, Evobassfish said:

How deep is it out there on the main lake? I've only fished near the docks, the brother and I will be out there next weekend ice trolling.

There is a "channel" of sorts that gets about 6.5' deep, maybe deeper in spots. At times the tip-up bite for Northern and largemouth can be good where the depth levels off to six feet or so, but the panfish action will usually be in five feet of water or less, where the weeds are thicker. Find weeds on Lawrence Lake, and if the bluegill and crappie are biting you will catch them.

Unless the weather is awful next weekend, or the bite is really off, there should be enough people out there to give you a good idea of where the weeds are. The far weedline, away from the highway, is generally preferred for fishing over the weedline on the west side.

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