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Excellent ice conditions are expanding the fishing opportunities in the area every day. With anywhere from 11 to 18 inches of good clear ice, we were confident enough to begin driving out on many of the area lakes although we’re still staying near the edges over shallow water. Thanks to very low snow cover, we are not depending on plowing roads and we can drive most anywhere we think it’s safe. On the larger lakes, ice heaves are showing up and beginning to be a problem. There’s no way to stay on top of where all of these cracks are, so stay in touch with the area resorts. These folks are usually the ones plowing the roads and they have a good idea where the obstructions are.
Reports of Perch action are still coming in from Winnie and there are a fair number of decent Northern Pike and Walleye being caught as well. Most of the action has been in the shallow water 6 to 10 feet deep, but there is a movement under way and many of these fish are starting to show up in the 20-24 foot range as well. These are mainly shoreline or primary structures. Perch are hitting well on rocker spoons tipped with a minnow head, or even a plain jig head fished on the bottom. We had some luck with a small perch-eye imitation tipped with a smaller than average minnow and hooked through the tail.
Walleyes (mainly small size) are still running some of the shallow points and weed edges during the last hour or so in the afternoon but they too are showing up on the deeper main lake structures. Swedish Pimple or other jigging spoons with a minnow head will continue to produce now. A nice approach is to fish one hole jigging and set up another hole nearby with a simple bobber, plain hook and a lively shiner. The jigging rod often attracts fish into the area, but the free-swimming shiner catches the ones that won’t jump at the jig.
Crappie fishing has been a little spotty, but anglers are catching some fish mainly “eating size” fish are reported locally at the moment. Some of the lakes that were fished hard during the past couple of years are not producing great catches this winter, Crappie populations tend to build up in a lake until they’re discovered or noticed by a few anglers. Once the word spreads, pressure builds and the population gets worked down to a point where fishing declines. If you want to be consistent, it’s important to keep exploring new places and locate larger schools of “new fish”. The traditional approach of locating the deeper holes and fishing with small jigs, teardrops and plain hooks with crappie minnow will all produce some fish. Glow in the dark jigs kept charged with a flashlight, does seem to give you an edge and is worth the effort to try.
Good Luck! Check Back For Updates!

The Early Bird-Jeff Sundin
Early Bird Fishing Guide Service
Phone: 218-246-2375
North-Central Minnesota
Lakes Country
E-mail: [email protected]

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early bird and others,
put lots of holes & time in from friday thru
sunday on two seperate lakes (marcell area) and can say i would not drive vehical out yet, thickest ice i found was only 12" and closer to shore was 6" to 9" hope this report will help others to check before they drive out

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