Lake of the Week: Rice Lake
Looking for a multi-species mecca close to the Brainerd Lakes area? Look to Rice Lake in the city of Brainerd located near Lum Park. Fishing Rice Lake, actually a reservoir off the Mississippi River, can be like opening presents — you never know what you will get. You have a chance for crappies, sunfish, walleyes, northern, smallmouth or whatever else a river can hold.
For panfish, pick a bay and get to work. In the spring you should be searching for the warmest water you can find — 60 degrees is prime time for crappies. Puddle jumpers are a great option for crappies and, due to the turbidity of the water, brighter colors excel. Also don’t be afraid to combine a puddle jumper with a spinner to add some vibration to the equation. Fancast and cover water near the shoreline until you find willing biters. For sunfish cover water as well but employ crawlers or wax worms. When you find a school, anchor up and work the area more thoroughly.
Bass, Northern, Walleye
All three species are present in Rice Lake at times throughout the summer. Northerns are most prevalent and should be targeted as such. Spinner baits or crankbaits are a good option to begin your search. With spinner baits, brighter skirts, gold blades, put the trolling motor down and cover some ground. When using crankbaits, try brighter colored ones and/or ones with a rattle in the inside. For both of these, you will find that bass, both smallies and largemouth, will hit them as will an occasional walleye. If the bite is tough, a sucker minnow under a bigger bobber might be the ticket to catching some northerns or bass. As summer winds down, August-September, more smallies will show up with consistency. The back bays will also hold a good number of bigger fish and can be attacked with topwaters like scum frogs or buzz baits for some exhilarating strikes!
Recent DNR surveys indicate the overall health of the fishery is very good. Two invasive species have been identified as present, curly leaf pond weed and Zebra mussels. Please take all necessary precautions to prevent the spread of these species. A public access is located on the south side of Rice Lake in Lum Park. Camping and picnic areas are also located in Lum Park. Get out and enjoy the wealth of resources close to home and remember, take a kid fishing!