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I've heard late ice can bring some pretty good tip-up action in the backwaters and marinas. Is this true and how late in the winter are we talking?

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We used to spend time in the Harbor in Wabasha. The ice was generaly in pretty poor shape every where else at that time of year. There was time when we could get a couple flags to pop up and other days when nothing would happen. So, we just kind of gave up. Besides it aint long after then the ice is gone and we move on to other species and other areas.

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Certain areas of the backwaters will give up some tip-up action yet, but man it has been a dying trade on the river in my opinion. On reason is the over abundance of food. Panfish are usually stacked up everywhere so tight that predators like northerns just don't have to look much to get dinner.

Another issue this year, and many for that matter, is the ice. Where much of the active tu fishing is taking place the ice simply is not all that safe. You need to have some current nearby for decent tu angling down there and in recent years the ice hasn't been that sturdy consistantly.

You may want to try Wilcox and walking out to the wide flats there to set a couple. You have the current off the main channel fairly close, but you will also find pretty good ice too. West Newton or Half Moon Lake might be good options as well.

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In late winter, Northern do move very shallow in to the weed beds where they spawn right around ice-out. Setting tip-ups very shallow (I am talking a foot or two of water) can yield some Northern at that time. Dead bait often works better than live bait for Northern at last ice. Of course, you have to be careful on the ice at this time.

Last winter was the best year I have had running tip-ups around the Winona and Lacrosse-area backwaters, and I caught a lot of nice Northern and largemouth. One four-hour trip to Lawrence in December of 2004 gave me two Northern and seven largemouth on just one tip-up, at which point I ran out of shiners.

This winter has been a bust for me on tip-ups. Four ice-fishing trips to Winona and two trips to Lawrence Lake, as well as The Brawl, in the past seven weeks have yielded one largemouth and one Northern. confused.gif That has been the story with most people I have talked to this year, although some have got more fish on tip-ups than I have. It looks like I won't be making another batch of pickled pike until the spring Northern bite.

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