I Didn’t Listen to My Own Advice…

It wasn’t long ago that I wrote a post about preparing your equipment for the ice fishing season as we awaited “safe ice.” Among the list of things to do were to charge your battery for your flasher and set up your portable ice fishing shelter to check for damage.

I didn’t do either of these things before my first venture out on the ice this season. I got out to my spot, drilled my first hole, and dropped my transducer down. I marked fish for about two minutes before my battery died. Then, as I was setting up my pop-up shelter, the roof braces fell out. It was a cold and windy day and I had to listen to the roof flapping in the wind as I fished without a flasher.

Luckily, I was able to catch about a dozen fish and take home a couple of keepers, but it was not an enjoyable trip because I didn’t take my own advice. Check your gear before you leave. It’s easier to do it at home than managing malfunctions in below-zero temperatures in the middle of a frozen lake.

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I woke up to a heartbreaking story on the news this morning about a couple that fell through the ice on Upper Red Lake in central Minnesota over the weekend. Out of respect for the deceased, I don’t want to pass judgement on their actions. I don’t know the specifics of what happened. My goal in writing this is to prevent tragedies like what happened on Upper Red Lake from happening again.

Upper Red Lake is somewhat of a unique body of water for the area. It has a mean depth of about 12 feet. Because it is so shallow, it is often the first major lake in the area to freeze over. Its popularity as a walleye fishery draws in thousands of ice anglers every year. Upper Red Lake is a good choice for early season ice fishing. However, just because it is the first lake to freeze and it has more ice than other lakes in the area does not mean it should be treated as being any more safe than other lakes at early ice. No ice is safe ice. Read more

Ice Fishing is Coming Soon Enough… Be Safe!

The window for ideal fall fishing seemed to open and close more quickly than usual this year. High temperatures across much of the ice belt have been below freezing for about a week now. Some overnight lows have approached zero degrees. Skim ice has formed on ponds and the shallow bays of some lakes. This has some people champing at the bit to get out on hard water and drill their first holes of the year. Read more

End of Season Ice Fishing Equipment Care

Before the lakes froze up, I posted an article on preparing gear for use after it had been in storage during the off season. Last week, I posted an article on late ice safety as it seems spring will be arriving early this year. It won’t be long until the ice is gone and we put away our ice fishing gear for another year. A little bit of preparation before stowing your gear in the attic can help add longevity to the life of your gear, and make things easier for you next season. Read more

Early Warm Up = Be Careful On the Ice

We got a little rain last week which softened up the ice in many places throughout the midwest. There was a lot of standing water on the ice where we were at in Southeastern North Dakota on Saturday and the ice was slushy. The ice fishing season isn’t over, but its days are limited. With several daytime highs above freezing in the forecast for the coming week, the ice conditions will continue to slowly deteriorate.

My biggest piece of advice for ice fisherman is to Read more

Fergus Falls Ice Fishing Report (Jan 24, 2016)

We arrived at a small lake near Fergus Falls, MN just before 2pm so our fishing time was limited to a few hours of daylight. Having never fished the lake before, we set up near the crowd on a drop-off from 10 to about 20 FOW. The fishing was slow in the first spot which prompted a move slightly deeper into the basin which was about 25 feet deep. As soon as I drilled my first hole, I marked a school of suspended crappies as well as Read more

Detroit Lakes Ice Fishing Report (January 8, 2016)

Temperatures dropped fast Friday with the warmest part of the day being before the sun up as we got on the lake. We found a few smaller fish near the bottom in 30-35 FOW. Around noon we moved to a smaller lake and set up on the deepest part of the lake (around 20 FOW). The bite came in waves, but when the fish came on our flashers, they were very active. Perch and sunfish were hitting on small jigs tipped with wax worms. Pike and walleyes were hitting crappie minnows on plain hooks about 6-12″ off the bottom. Read more

Big Pine Lake Fishing Report (January 1, 2016)

What a beautiful morning to be on the lake! Unfortunately, the fishing wasn’t as good as the weather. After drilling 30 or so holes up and down a breakline from 12-30 FOW, we only found a couple of perch. After several moves and dozens of holes later, we decided to call it quits on Big Pine and move to another nearby lake. In 6-8 FOW, we were able to find a few pike and perch on the second lake, but the fishing was still slow. I talked to a conservation officer on the lake who said that most of the anglers she had talked to also reported slow fishing. Read more

Leaf Lake Ice Fishing Report (December 22, 2015)

Despite 25+ mph wind, we got out on Leaf Lake near Audubon, MN on Tuesday. We checked the ice thickness every five to ten yards on our way out to the first drop off from the access and there was an even 5-6″ of hard, clear ice. There was one hard-sided spearing house set up shallow and there was one snowmobile on the ice. With that said, the majority of the traffic was people on foot with portable shelters. Always be extremely careful on the ice. Read more

Detroit Lakes Area Fishing, March 1, 2015

The perch were hot yesterday! I took a buddy of mine out on his second ever ice fishing trip (we got skunked the last time) to a spot that I love to fish in the summer for huge numbers of nice bluegills. What I had heard at the bait shop and read online suggested that we should try fishing tight to weed edges in 7-10 feet of water. We drilled a bunch of holes (maybe a dozen, but through 3 feet of ice, it felt like more) trying to find our target depth and structure, but we eventually settled over a mud bottom in 14 feet of water.

We were still drilling holes and setting up the Eskimo when I dropped a crappie minnow on a plain hook under a bobber down one of the holes, and it was instant perch action. We popped a few more holes around it and set up on them. It took a little bit to refine our presentation on the active rods while the set lines got consistent action. The hot item ended up being a 1/8oz Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon in silver with blue or chartreuse tape Read more