What to do and where to go may be a question in your head these days? Well the Rainy River is open and the big fish have been on fire this week. The new motor isn't on my boat yet so it looks like I've got some time to get ready. That gives me time to think about the busy upcoming summer. Fishing will be busy but will the fishing be good? And that leads me to wonder what we as anglers, sportsmen and sportswomen determine to be "good."
It's not very often this south end of the state has open water and the north still has driveable ice. But I guess it's another season of messed up weather. No matter how you look at it, we are one step closer to spring and open water fishing. The good news is the panfish have started their late ice bite, and the shallow water crappies are one of my favorites bites. Also the trout are biting.
Although most of the big fish seasons are closed, and many anglers will resort to fishing for panfish, you still have some choices. We are lucky enough to be close to border waters such as Lake of the Woods, which is open for walleye and pike for a while. You also can make the trip to the Dakotas for some jumbo perch.
For the third year now Bret Amundson and I were on the road to Fond Du Lac for our traditional Winnebago sturgeon spearing trip. This year my wife Tammy came with to check out the activities, and I think next year she will be trying to spear her own fish. As usual, there were a ton of things going on from fat tire bike racing to ice sculpting. Pretty much the whole town is either sitting out in their shanties or talking about all the excitement.
And another Extravaganza is in the books. And you could not of asked for anything better. The fish bit, for some anglers. The weather was decent and everyone had a good time. OK, some people had too good of a time. The kick-off party at Grand View Lodge was awesome as always. On the ice, working for Strikemaster, I got the pleasure of meeting some diehard fisherman that drove all the way from New York. But the thing that stood out the most was the leaderboard. Most years there are a mixture of species from big to small, and usually quite a few walleyes.
Last week I heard something that seemed to make a lot of sense. "Dear Mother Nature, you do not need to put all four seasons into one week."
Last weekend we decided to have a weekend that was not just about ice fishing. Me and the guys made a trip to my cabin, the adventure would include a little snowmobiling and a little ice fishing. OK, we were just snowmobiling into the fishing lakes. And with the snow being a little too deep, we even had to ride sleds into the cabin.
In today's world, I have the best Striker ice suit, waterproof insulated boots and layers of the warmest clothing out there. Some days I still get chilled with these below zero days. It just makes me think we must be getting softer or maybe it's just me. Generations before me, like my dad, would be outside all winter whether it be fishing or trapping, or in my dad's case trapping minnows. The warmest clothes available then wouldn't hold a candle to today's, but he was out there everyday and never complained.
Hopefully everyone has been enjoying their holiday season and getting out on the ice. We sure have had some good days of ice fishing this week. From panfish to walleyes it sure has been a mixed bag, and that's OK because the freezer was getting pretty low from not fishing since last fall. By far the best bite in Minnesota has been Mille Lacs Lake. The walleyes have been snapping from the shallow rocks to the deeper mud flats. The hot lures have been jigging raps and buckshot spoons tipped with a minnow head, and a plain hook with a fathead is also working well.
Well that happened fast, from the lakes just freezing over to ATV ice on many lakes in just a week. That's what happens when the thermometer doesn't do much rising for over a week. Now that ice fishing is upon us the question is where to go. This week I will probably be hitting some smaller lakes for some crappies for the frying pan. And then the walleye hunt will start. Then maybe Canada for lake trout, unless Superior shapes up and we get a few days of fishable ice out of Duluth.