Minnesota Statewide Fishing Reports
INFO AS OF 3-22-19
Trout fishing has been very good around Ely. The panfish bite is picking up nicely throughout the state, and the walleye and northern pike action on northern border water lakes remains great. Current warm temperatures are compacting the snow pack, making access and mobility much easier on many lakes. Anglers will still need to use extreme caution, especially since late ice can become unstable very quickly. In addition to recommended safety gear, don't forget spikes for your boots!
Minnesota fishing opener dates for the 2019/2020 fishing season for most inland waters are as follows: walleye, sauger, northern pike, bass and lake trout, May 11; muskie, June 1. The fishing season for crappies, sunnies, perch and catfish is continuous. For rules, regulations and other helpful information on fishing in Minnesota, consult the DNR's Fish Minnesota web page.
Please take a moment to review the DNR's Ice Safety webpage and Ice Thickness Guidelines web pages.
International Falls - Rainy Lake
There is very little fishing information to report for Rainy Lake. Conditions have not been good for travel on the lake, and anglers that do get out aren’t saying much. Snowmobiles have been best for travel. Warmer temperatures are in the forecast so conditions may not improve this season. A good alternative will soon be open water fishing on the Rainy River, and it’s possible that a launch on the Rainy River will be open as soon as this weekend. Please note that while there is an extended walleye season on area border waters, walleye fishing on the Rainy River is strictly catch-and-release this year. 800-325-5766; www.rainylake.org
Ely Area Lakes & Streams
Trout anglers continue to pick up nice fish, some weighing up to 8 pounds. White tube jigs fished throughout the water column have been best. The stream trout lakes have been turning out decent catches of rainbows and splake. These fish are responding best to small spoons and salted minnows. The ice conditions have been improving as the warmer temperatures begin to melt some of the snow and slush on area lakes. Travel by four-wheeled vehicles is now possible and should continue to be through the end of the month when the season officially closes. Panfish anglers report an increase in action. Minnows are the bait of choice, however, a good number of anglers are beginning to pick up fish when using small plastics and wax worms on a jig. This time of year can offer some of the most pleasant ice fishing conditions so now is the time to take your last ice fishing trip of the season! 800-777-7281; www.ely.org
Duluth - Lake Superior, St. Louis River and Inland Waters
Warmer temperatures have already eaten away at the snow and ice. Please remember that late ice can be particularly dangerous. Anglers should bring proper safety equipment and make smart choices. The most hazardous spots are generally the shorelines and areas near springs. That said, the ice fishing season has a long ways to go. On the inland lakes, fishing is heating up with longer bite windows reported. The best time to fish has been mid-afternoon when daytime temperatures are at their highest. Panfish continue to roam the soft bottom basins. It is important to set up near the contour edges, especially this time of year. Heavy weed coverage can be productive. In the next week, ice conditions on most inland waters will be ideal for mobility, just be sure to bring your boot spikes! Ice coverage on Lake Superior is shrinking rapidly, resulting in dangerous conditions. Now is a good time to prepare your gear for tributary fishing and shore fishing for kamloops. The St. Louis River remains quiet, except for some anglers targeting the back bays in search of panfish. Schools of crappies, bluegills and perch can be found at the contour edges. The best tactic has been a 1/16-ounce jig tipped with a crappie minnow, or a 1/32-ounce jig tipped with wax worms. Dead sticks are taking a few fish as well. Keep in mind that machine travel has been nearly impossible. 800-438-5884; www.visitduluth.com
Grand Rapids Area Lakes
Don’t put away your gear just yet! Travel on the lakes is actually improving now that the layer of snow is melting and the water is running back into the lakes. Panfish action is heating up, but a lot of drilling and hole-hoping is necessary since their locations can change often. For now, concentrate on the soft bottom areas, especially near deep weed edges. Soon, the edges of the structure and shoreline breaks will be key locations. Panfish, like other species, will begin to migrate slightly shallower, eventually setting up in 10 to 20 feet of water. Most often there will be several fish traveling together, so the action can be fast. Light line, small baits, and euro larvae or plastics are generally best. Walking out is still the best option, but call ahead to learn if other modes of transportation are an option. Many Grand Rapids area lakes will produce nice panfish over the next few weeks. Some of the lakes to consider include Little Moose, Big Rice, Loon, Pokegama and Big Splithand. 800-355-9740; www.visitgrandrapids.com
Baudette - Lake of the Woods & the Rainy River
Lots of walleye and sauger continue to be taken from the south shore of Lake of the Woods. Most of the fish are coming from 24 to 31 feet of water during the day, and depths of 15 to 20 feet during morning and evening hours. Gold, glow red and other glow colors have been effective. Northern pike action has been strong with many fish over 40 inches long caught again this week. Anglers are advised to stick to the ice roads and groomed trails due to large amounts of snow and slush on the lake. Auger extensions are a necessity. The current on the Rainy River is very strong, and open water can be found to the east. Open water fishing will be an option very soon. Up at the Northwest Angle & Islands area, walleye action has been excellent during periods of stable weather. The majority of fish are being pulled from 21 to 25 feet of water. The most productive tactic is to use a dead-stick beside an actively jigged rattle bait such as a buckshot or rippin’ rap. Glow white/pink is out producing most other colors. The late ice bite can be phenomenal on Lake of the Woods. Ice conditions permitting, fish houses will remain out on the ice through the end of the month. 800-382-FISH; www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com
Bena - Lake Winnibigoshish
Lake conditions remain poor due to deep snow and slush on Lake Winnibigoshish. As a result, most resorts have closed their accesses. Anglers heading out this weekend should call ahead for the most current conditions. It’s never too early to begin planning for the walleye opener on Lake Winnibigoshish, May 11th! www.lakewinnie.net
Brainerd Area Lakes
The snow took a serious beating from the recent rainfall. While getting around on area lakes has improved dramatically, vehicle travel is not recommended due to a layer of slush between the top 4 inches of ice and the bottom base layer. Crappies and bluegills have transitioned to their late ice haunts where they are responding to spoons, plastics and live bait. The tullibee are really stacked up, and the eelpout continue to bite. Some nice perch action is reported on the Gull Lake Chain. 800-450-7247; www.visitbrainerd.com
Isle/Onamia - Lake Mille Lacs
The Minnesota DNR has released new walleye fishing regulations for Lake Mille Lacs. Anglers fishing Mille Lacs may keep one walleye from May 11 (the start of Minnesota’s open water season) through May 31, but the walleye must measure between 21 and 23 inches, or be more than 28 inches long. Check out the Lake Mille Lacs webcams to view lake activity. 888-350-2692; www.millelacs.com
Willmar Area Lakes
The best way to access the lakes is now by foot or snowmobile. While most area lakes still have roughly 2 feet of ice, there is a 4 to 12 inch layer of water and slush on top. Lakes with aerators are opening up quickly, as is Nest Lake near the bridge. Crappies have been very active on Foot, Diamond and Eagle lakes. With this week’s warmer temperatures, the snow should continue to melt and condense, allowing for an ideal ice fishing in the Willmar Lakes Area this weekend. 800-845-8747; www.willmarlakesarea.com
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area
No fishing reports are currently available.
Lanesboro/Preston - Southeast Bluff Country trout streams
If you are interested in the trout hatchery at the National Trout Center in Preston and the behavioral differences in stocked trout vs. wild trout, check out "Hatchery vs. Wild." Before you go, check out the "Area Highlights" section of the Lanesboro Area Fisheries web page for stream maps. 800-944-2670; www.lanesboro.com
Albert Lea Area Lakes
The 72nd Annual Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener will be held May 9-12, 2019 on Fountain Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Albert Lea area. Located about 75 minutes south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Albert Lea is nestled between Fountain and Albert Lea lakes. There are 13 lakes in the area, many offering fishing, boating, kayaking and canoeing. In the heart of the city, the 521-acre Fountain Lake features several great fishing bays and is home to 20 species of fish, including largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, crappie, catfish and yellow perch. 800-345-8414; www.albertleatourism.org
Ortonville - Big Stone Lake
A few anglers ventured out onto Big Stone Lake last weekend and said the fishing was “very good.” Travel conditions on the ice vary day to day. Some have reported easy travel and others are fighting the deep snow and slush. Please call ahead before traveling. 800-568-5722; www.bigstonelake.com
Anglers may obtain fishing licenses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by dialing 1-888-665-4236, or accessing DNR License Sales.
The information in this report is provided courtesy of Explore Minnesota Tourism.