Fishing reports and lake information for Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, North Dakota and South Dakota

2016 Articles

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April 2016

A lifetime of fishing the Mississippi River has taught me that the concept of "pre-fishing" is usually a waste of time. It makes perfect sense to begin a day on the water with a presentation that caught fish the day before. But if the rod doesn't bend in less than five minutes a substantial change in strategy is often the best strategy. There are a couple of caveats to this rule of thumb: summertime largemouth bass on a stable summer River and saugers relating to sand-based cuts and running sloughs in April. Even with changes in the Big Picture ranging from subtle to extreme it is usually possible to snake at least a couple saugers out of the River this time of year when water temperat... more
Crappie time! by Mike Frisch
Many Midwestern lakes are ice free, and for the anxious open-water angler that means its crappie time! These scrappy panfish take center stage for many anglers now because, as panfish, they are legal for the taking, while gamefish like walleyes and northern pike are still protected by some state's closed gamefish fishing seasons. Crappie anglers often think shallow water and finding the warmest shallow water is often the key. Warm water, at least relatively speaking, usually attracts crappies as the spring's first signs of life often occur in the warmest of the shallows, drawing hungry fish. These fish are to there to feed first, and later to spawn. Classic early season crappie ... more

March 2016

The majority of visitors to Northwestern Ontario's Sunset Country come up here to enjoy the great fishing the area offers. There are literally tens of thousands of lakes and hundreds of resorts and lodges you can choose from. Whether you are fishing a larger lake or a small remote fly-in lake you'll enjoy a traditional Canadian shore lunch. After a successful morning of fishing, take a break for one of the tastiest delicacies found anywhere, fresh walleye for shore lunch. Ask anyone who's been to Canada fishing, nothing can beat heading out on one of our beautiful lakes, catching some nice fresh walleyes and eating on the shores of a clear, Canadian lake. GET YOUR FREE ONTAIRO TRAVEL GUI... more
Holding the distinction of the most well-known of the 6 mainstem reservoirs on the upper Missouri River; Lake Oahe is the gem of them all when it comes to opportunities for anglers. This huge Missouri River reservoir originates from the Oahe Dam near South Dakota's state capital of Pierre and continues well into North Dakota, running approximately 231 miles, covering 2,250 miles of shoreline and spanning 370,000 acres with a maximum depth of 205 feet. It is the fourth-largest reservoir in the United States, with 51 recreation areas providing excellent facilities and access for roughly 1.5 million visitors each year. Most of the visitors come for the fine fishing. There is a good reason... more
More and more, anglers are getting on and in the water. Some folks are fishing from boats, some are wading, and some are fishing from docks or shore. Some anglers are catching fish, some aren't catching too much. If you'll be fishing in the next couple of weeks, keep these fishing thoughts in mind. Early in the season it pays big dividends to understand a little bit about the fish you're chasing. In the Midwest you can chase several species of fish on the same body of water. Depending on where you live, keep in mind that, right now, northern pike have probably completed spawning or are at least close to doing so, walleyes are probably spawning, and bass and panfish are getting re... more
The Magic of March by Bob Wilson
Every year March and April brings many changes to the fishing world. It's that time of year when ice fishing is still hanging in there but open water is just around the corner. Winter starts to break and the weather slowly warms up. This causes a lot of things to happen. Waters start slowly warming up, and the fish being the sensitive creatures that they are, feel this change and respond. Almost all species become more active and more aggressive. They start coming out of their dormant state to begin feeding heavily and to prepare for spawning. The fish also concentrate more with the start of the migration for spawning. This is especially so for walleye and crappie. Walleye will migrate up... more

February 2016

Aim For The O2 by Mitch Eagan
Imagine your home growing darker by the day, to the point you haven't seen sunlight in over a month. Moreover, your surroundings are growing colder by the day. In fact, it's so frigid that your muscles have become rigid; to the point it's all you can do to muster moving few feet…even to eat. And you're hungry. Oxygen is diminishing, too. Some areas are completely void of oxygen, while other pockets have just enough to sustain life. Thus, you migrate to where respiration is still an option. To say life's registering a zero on the fun-o-meter is an understatement. And with that lowly scenario in place, you now know what it's like to be a fish living in the Ice Belt during the dead ... more
Love Those Winter Panfish by Jerry Carlson
When it comes to ice fishing, I am definitely someone that thrives on panfish. Crappies and sunnies have a way of keeping me entertained through the entire frozen water period. Occasionally, I get a little grief for not targeting walleyes during the winter months, but I can handle the criticism. There is something about the winter panfish routine that I thoroughly enjoy. That is all the reason I need to keep after the crappies and sunfish. In the area I live, there is no shortage of places to target winter panfish. Without a doubt, that plays an important role in my panfish addiction. I rarely drive more than 30 miles to fish and can easily do a three or four hour event if I so choose... more
March On The Ice by Bob Jensen
It seems like February just started and I'm already looking forward to ice-fishing in March. March is my favorite month for ice-fishing. The days are longer, the weather isn't as cold, and the fish like to get caught in March. Following are some things to keep in mind to catch more fish through the ice until the end of the ice season. First, be safe. The weather can really warm up toward the end of the ice season, and ice conditions can change quickly. Ice that was safe on Friday might not be safe on Sunday. I've seen lots of times when ice that was okay in the morning wasn't at the end of the day. Keep close tabs on ice conditions. Also keep close tabs on the regulations. So... more
The High Road for Panfish by Jason Mitchell
Panfish can suspend anywhere in the water column and a big equation for locating fish and putting together a pattern is dialing in that productive zone. Before electronics, anglers often fished down through the entire water column. The edge that sonar gives us today is that we can speed up the process of getting back down to fish which makes us more efficient. What also happens as we race back down to a school that might be fifteen feet below the transducer is we miss the high fish or leave fish that might not show up well on electronics. The reason today that high fish are so often overlooked is because when we use sonar, the cone angle is often merely a few feet wide at the most for ... more

January 2016

A Case to stay in Place by Dennis Foster
This overlooked strategy can pay big dividends as one of your best options for icing the biggest fish of the year. Before the run and gun crowd starts sneering and guffawing, hit the kill button on your augers long enough so you can hear for a moment and open your mind to the possibilities. Scrambling all over the lake and covering a lot of territory-particularly for perch-is indeed the best route…much of the time. That being said, I also relish a little down time-if you will-come evening in order to put some oversized mature walleye's on the topside of the ice. If you desire some pugnacious and portly pike, much of what I am about to relay holds equally true, just more of a late aft... more
The frozen surfaces of lakes, rivers and reservoirs across the ice belt represent the final frontier in angling. Ice thicknesses that are often measured in feet, air temperatures that hover near zero, and frigid winds that often carry frozen precipitation all represent physical, and even psychological barriers to ice fishing success. Over the last 5 years, however, advances in marine electronics that were initially designed to assist open-water anglers have begun to breach the final frontier, providing shelter-bound ice anglers the technological advances they need to enjoy sustained success throughout the months-long hard water season. As the first intrepid anglers begin to creep onto froze... more
Jimmy Buffet's classic song "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" kept running through my mind as I watched a food plot from a vantage point in a tripod stand about 140 yards away. The sun had just set in the frigid upper Midwest.The only activity on this food plot was a lone doe, which was rapidly fading from view as another mid-winter night silently reclaimed the landscape. I was quietly cursing myself for not wearing a couple more layers of clothes. A Polarfleece vest and flannel shirt weren't quite enough to cut the evening chill. But I was on a mission, determined to stick it out. The doe suddenly bolted into the pines, quickly disappearing into the darkness. For a few m... more
Back in the day, some people didn't go ice-fishing because they didn't like to be cold. While that may have been a valid excuse then, now there is no need to avoid ice-fishing due to the cold. We have all sorts of clothing and equipment that will enable us to stay comfortable on the ice. It is important to keep in mind that we want to stay comfortable, but not too warm. Too warm is just as bad as too cold, because if you get too warm you'll start sweating, and sweating will make you cold, and then there goes the fun. For some ice-anglers, an ice house is the answer for staying warm. I fish out of an Ice Castle sometimes: They're outstanding. You fish in jeans and a sweatshirt... more
It happens to me several times every winter. Someone that has not experienced the pleasures of modern ice fishing techniques asks me to take them panfish fishing. I gladly oblige. Each time out, there is quite a learning curve that must be gone through. The concept of seeing your bait on the Vexilar and being able to watch the fish as they respond to your offerings is quite fascinating. Learning to play the active fish that are higher in the water column is also essential. Holding the bait above the intended target to make it "chase" for its dinner is part of the process that must be taught and then learned by the novice ice angler. The trickiest aspect of the entire system is ge... more
One of my favorite winter fish species to chase is yellow perch. These fish grow big and feisty in some waters and are very tasty table fare too. Here is a look at some tips to put jumbos on the ice and in the frying pan this winter. The first step in finding winter perch is choosing the right body of water, targeting a lake with a reputation for producing jumbos is sound advice. Lots of Minnesota's bigger bodies of water host good numbers and good -sized perch as well. Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, and Winnibigoshish are three lakes that draw a great deal of winter perch angling attention. Closer to home, Ottertail Lake and Big Stone Lake are two favorites. Once a lake has been cho... more

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