Well, I wish I had a report of fishable ice for you, but Mother Nature just won’t make up her mind. Our small to mid-sized lakes have frozen over and blown open a couple times now. The smaller bodies of water that have kept their ice received around 4” of wet snow this week, so that ice is now in very poor condition as well.
The past couple days have had very cool low temps, so we’ve been seeing many of the lakes freezing over again. With the good news also comes the bad, we are supposed to see high winds and temps in the coming days, so the ice we’ve made may get busted up once again.
Despite the delay in our ice fishing season, there are still opportunities to wet a line in the Alexandria area. Most of the larger lakes are still accessible by boat and the reports are pretty decent for crappie, walleye and muskie. So, if you have the desire the fish have been willing and ready.
The other option is to use extreme caution and find some of the smaller lakes that stayed frozen through this up and down weather pattern. I’ve heard reports of 3-4” of ice in areas with an inch or two of slush on top. The people that have been venturing out are reporting some very good catches of both walleye and crappie.
Hopefully winter sets in for good soon so we can get on with our ice fishing season. As for now, let’s just enjoy the nice weather and spend some time outdoors. I know personally I can’t wait to get out in the boat a couple more times. Remember to check back for ice updates. I’ll post again soon as we work our way slowly into the ice fishing season. Stay safe and good luck fishing!
We have ice again! After the mild temps last week we are back to winter. This past weekend with lows in the single digits most of the medium to large lakes froze over. There are only a couple inches of ice on those lakes, but many shallow lakes and bays have 4-6” on them.
Anglers that have been getting out on the ice are reporting a decent bite for sunfish, crappie and walleye. I’ve been making good use of the boat until this past weekend, but with most lakes frozen over I’ve officially put the boat away. This was definitely the latest I have ever fished a lake in MN out of a boat.
As I said earlier the ice is quite good on the shallow lakes and bays, so I hit the ice for the first time this past weekend. I checked the ice on a few lakes and some were good and others needed more cold weather before I’d fish them. For me I like to have a consistent 4” of ice or more to feel comfortable. Once I have checked a lake and I know the ice conditions, only then will I take family or clients out on the ice to fish.
My son is only two years old, but he was very excited to finally get out ice fishing. He was able to land his first walleye of the ice season as well as some nice crappie. His smiles are priceless! I’m pretty sure if you asked him he thinks he can out fish Dad already. Most of the fish that we caught were quite aggressive; in fact we used mostly plastics. For the walleye, we used a 1/8 oz Frostee jigging spoon tipped with a fathead and for the crappie, we used a small #12 Lindy toad tipped with a plastic tail. This fast action was a perfect way to start off the ice fishing season.
If you decide to go ice fishing over the holidays, make sure you target the lakes that are 15’ or less. These shallower lakes froze earlier than the deeper ones and they have the best ice on them. Merry Christmas, stay safe and good luck fishing!
The ice is still holding up quite well around the Alexandria lakes area. If we keep getting these cold snaps we should have fishable ice for a couple weeks or more yet. Currently, many of our lakes have very good ice conditions with a quality 12”-15”+ of ice. Any place there is running water of course there is open water, but that still leaves the other 99% of the water frozen and ready for fishing. I have no doubt there will be a truck or two out on the ice this weekend, but I recommend ATV’s or walking the remainder of the ice season.
Being we have a wide variety of lakes in our area you will be able to find fish as shallow as a few feet and also still in the deep basins in 30+’ of water. The nice thing is the fish are fairly aggressive, so finding them is really your only hurdle. I’ve been catching all of my fish on #12 Lindy toads and a wax worm or euro larva. Color hasn’t made any difference for me, but the Lindy Toad is a great jig. You will notice right away that it’s unique hook design will allow you to hook many more fish.
I check the ice frequently, so have no worries about driving up here for a weekend of fishing. We have plenty of ice for the upcoming week. In fact we are making more ice as we speak! Good luck and let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them quickly. Good luck!
Fishing over the last two weeks has been down right outstanding! There are reports of amazing crappie, walleye and smallmouth catches coming in. The fish are biting like it’s fall even though we have summer weather, It’s hard to beat that combination!
I’ve been guiding for smallmouth lately and they are extremely aggressive. We have caught 100’s of smallmouth with a number of them reaching trophy size. The majority of the fish are in 5-10 feet of water near rocks. Don’t be afraid to throw very large baits at them. They haven’t been very shy! Fish ranging from 18”-20” has been very common. The largest smallmouth last week was over 5.5 lbs!
There are also reports of 10-12” crappie biting very well. The reports are divided though. Some anglers are finding the crappie suspended over deep water, whereas others are still finding them over weeds in 15 foot of water. In a few weeks I expect the majority of the crappie to be suspended over deep water basins. Use your electronics to locate these fish and they will be ready to eat!
The reports I’ve been hearing for walleye are a bit unusual for this time of year. The fish are in their fall locations already and the numbers have been very good. Limits of 16”-19” walleye have been common place. A 3/8oz jig and a minnow in 15-30’ water has been doing the trick.
It’s great to see such a strong bite already, things are shaping up to be tremendous fall in the Alexandria area! FYI, the trees are definitely turning color. I would expect us to reach our peak fall colors in a couple weeks. Good luck fishing!
The beautiful mild weather has made this fall one of the nicest I can remember here in Alexandria. With consistent highs in the 50’s and 60’s, I’ve noticed a record number of anglers still out on the water enjoying the fishing. Instead of just a couple adult diehard anglers in a few boats, I’ve been seeing numerous boats with whole families out together. It’s great to see everyone enjoying this gorgeous weather. I even got my two year old son out for a few walleye, which he can’t seem to get enough of.
The fishing overall has been excellent. We’ve been experiencing one of the best smallmouth and crappie bites I have ever seen, for both size and numbers. I think we were close to 1000 smallmouth this year, and I lost count on the number of trophy smallmouth we caught. It was truly amazing. They start biting well in early September and with the mild temps they really didn’t slow down much. We fished shallow rock and steep sand breaks with minnow and frog baits. With the water temps still hovering around 50 degrees, I think you could still do quite well in 6-10 feet of water.
The crappie are also still biting like crazy! I’ve fished 4 different lakes for crappie in the past two weeks and I was able to catch big ones on all of them. The number of crappie in the 11-12” range and bigger right now in Alexandria is staggering. About 7-8 years ago we had the perfect crappie spawning conditions and many lakes just exploded with small crappie. Fast forward to today and our lakes have an incredible number of quality crappie. The best technique is a jig and a minnow fished right above the fish. They love to feed up, so it’s hard to resist a bait dangling just out of reach. I like to drive around until I read a nice school of crappie and then fish them until they move. Then, I start up the motor to find another school and repeat. A low quality graph is all you really need to fish this way.
Now for the downside to this beautiful mild weather, the water seems to just be too warm to get a quality walleye bite going. If history has taught me anything, it’s when we experience a big cold snap in early to mid-October it really gets the walleye eating, and this year that really never happened. Sure, we had excellent days of walleye fishing, but never a consistent fall bite that most anglers are used to. It’s hard to say at this point if we will get a strong walleye bite before ice up or not? One thing is for sure, I’ll be out there trying!
If I do get into the walleye here late season I’ll let you know on either my audio report or a quick written report. I’ll also update you on the ice conditions frequently as we get into the ice fishing season. Good luck!
Current Ice and Travel Conditions –
With the cool temps we are making some good ice. Along with that we only have about 6”-8” of snow cover, so travel on the lakes has been quite easy.
Small Lakes and Bays – Have 18”-24” of ice.
Medium Lakes – Have around 14”-16” of ice
Large Lakes – Have about 10-12” everywhere I have checked.
The best bite around the area has been the consistent crappie action. Anglers have been catching large numbers of crappie suspended over deep water. Look to the edge of these deep holes. The schools of crappie seem to follow these breaks like highways, making them much easier to locate than you may think. The crappie have been feeding heavily right at dusk and dawn on small jigs (size #10-#12 jigs) and crappie minnows. During the day these same fish can be caught, but instead of a minnow, use a small plastic tail, wax worm or Euro larva.
The walleye action has been good for some but very slow for others. For this time of year, that is quite typical. One night will be great and the next…. nothing. The anglers who are putting in their time have iced some nice sized walleye, though. Plenty of eater-sized walleye 15”-18”, as well as numerous trophy fish 28”-32”. Concentrate on 15’-25’ of water with jigs and minnows.
Well it’s hard to believe only a few weeks ago there were ¾ ton pickups and 20 foot fish houses all over the lakes. Then, a week later we were down to ATV travel only. Now there’s no evidence the ice even existed. It was one of the fasted ice outs I can remember.
The ice fishing season around the Alexandria area was a short one, but in my opinion it was a very productive one. We had some outstanding walleye fishing during February, and once that closed the crappie action took the spot light. The first couple weeks of March yielded some of the best crappie action I’ve seen. We were able to catch literally hundreds of crappie that were 12-13 inches, as well as a number of them that measured 14-15 inches!
When targeting big crappie like this you can use much more aggressive techniques as they will hit almost anything. The hardest part is finding them and then staying on them. These larger fish roam quickly in schools, ambushing bait as they go. Being most of the lakes in the area are quite clear, these fish also get spooked easily. This makes them even tougher to catch consistently.
I’ve found the two biggest things that help me catch these fish on a regular basis is using a heavy lure that can get down to the fish quickly like a Tungsten jig or a small spoon. The second this is having a lot of holes drilled in the area. Usually you can only pull 2-3 crappie from a hole before they get spooked out of the area. With a large number of holes predrilled you can follow these fish as they move. We had a number of days where the fish would circle in a 100 yard area and if you continued to follow them throughout the day they would end up back where they started.
Even though our ice season was cut short, I look forward to chasing these big crappie out of a boat over the next month. These fish will be congregating in the shallow black bottom bays as these areas warm the fastest. The past couple years we had ice nearly up to walleye opener, so for me I had very little time to target crappie on open water. This year will be much different in a lot of ways. Not only will we have more time to fish crappie before walleye opener, we should also expect the walleye bite on opener to be much better than previous years. The water will be much warmer on opener which will ensure the walleye are done spawning and ready to start eating!
Let me know if you have any questions regarding the upcoming crappie bite or walleye opener. Based on the short but productive winter we had I expect this summer to be one of our best! Good luck!
The fishing remains very good around the area. I really can’t complain about the quality of the bite for any species. Northern, walleye, crappie and sunfish are all going quite well right now. I expect there to be a decent number of anglers headed out this weekend for the last couple days of the walleye/northern season. I know I will be out there!
We had a couple slow weeks of walleye, but we are back to some very respectable numbers. Two to three walleye per guy a night has been very common with some even getting a limit. But if you are staying in a wheel house for the weekend those kind of numbers really stack up. Plain shiners on a plain #4 hook has been best with an 1/8oz jigging spoon coming in second. Depending on the lake the depths have varied greatly. Shallow or deep, the main thing to look for are points and drop offs. These types of structure have been producing some nice walleye at sun up and sun down.
The crappie fishing has been best at low light as well with a decent bite going throughout the night. The fish houses are clearing off of the lakes recently due to the MN state law, but that doesn’t mean the fishing is slowing at all. The deeper basin (15’-25’) crappie spots around the area are almost all producing some good numbers of crappie. A plain #8 hook and a crappie minnow has been doing fairly good lately. Also actively jigging your typical sunfish jig tipped with a Euro larva has been working well. Either one of these techniques will catch you crappie.
Lastly, the sunfish have been biting well most of the day on a #12 Lindy Toad type jig tipped with a Euro larva as stated above. Weedy areas in 15’-20’ foot have been best as of late. These areas are full of sunfish of every size, but it does help to move until you get a keeper or two. The larger fish like to congregate so it’s important to stay on the move until you find what you are after. The northern pike are also very active in these areas and they will become even more so, as we get closer to ice out. Unfortunately the season closes for walleye and northern at midnight 2-25-18. The northern have been hitting minnows on tip-ups, as well as biting your sunfish jigs and at times even the sunfish you are reeling up. They can certainly surprise you at any time.
The ice is still over 30 inches think in most places, so we should be ice fishing for quite some time. With the warmer weather we will have over the next month I can’t think of a more enjoyable time to get the family on some nice panfish. As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact me.
Eat, Discover & be Entertained in the Alexandria Lakes Area at one low package price! On top of all the great things to do in the lakes area, the beginning of March will feature some great theatre entertainment not to miss. You get everything for the low price of $35 per ticket! All the details are below:
Lend Me a Tenor
Alexandria Area Arts is delighted to present this hilarious knee-slapping comedy. Set in September 1934, the general manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company is primed to welcome the world famous Tito Morelli, Il Stupendo (the greatest tenor of his generation) to appear for one night only as Otello. The star arrives late and, through a hilarious series of mishaps, is given a double dose of tranquilizers and passes out. His pulse is so low that Saunders and his assistant Max believe he’s dead. In a frantic attempt to salvage the evening, Saunders persuades Max to get into Morelli’s Otello costume and fool the audience into thinking he’s Il Stupendo. Max succeeds admirably, but Morelli comes to and gets into his other costume ready to perform. Now two Otellos are running around in costume and two women are running around in lingerie, each thinking she is with Il Stupendo.
Lakes Area Radio Theatre
Before television, radio variety shows were one of the primary sources of entertainment. This tradition is alive in Alexandria! Located on the shores of Lakes Geneva, Lakes Area Radio Theatre records ”old time” radio shows. Live music, their own sound effects and lively actors help bring the stories to life. Enjoy 2 radio show comedies, “Phoebe & Maude” and “The Bickersons”, with this special discount package!
Admission to the intriguing Runestone Museum is included in this package! Discover dozens of beautiful exhibits, the historic Fort Alexandria and see the famous Kensington Runestone which illustrates why Alexandria, MN is considered the Birthplace of America! Conveniently located in Downtown, visit the museum and stroll the Downtown shops at your leisure until your dinner is ready!
Dinner at Bello Cucina
Also included in the package price, a delicious meal at Bello Cucina! Eat to your heart’s content with “The Bello’s Special,” an exclusive pasta bar which will include multiple pastas, salad and garlic toast. A perfect setting and atmosphere to get ready for the evening’s theatre production!
FULL SCHEDULE & DETAILS:
Tickets are available by calling 320-762-8300, in person at the Alexandria Area Arts Theatre or online at AlexandriaAreaArts.org . (if purchasing by phone or online, please stop by the theatre prior to the day’s activities to get all the tickets for each stop) If you need overnight accommodations, click here for lodging options. Discounts at the following properties: Arrowwood ($154), Holiday Inn (Ask for the Lend Me a Tenor even rate : standard $99.99, king $109.99, recreation area $119.99), Spirit Cove Lodge B & B ($115) & Super 8 ($85).
We finished off the smallmouth season this past week and it was one of the best seasons I’ve had since I started guiding trophy smallmouth. We boated a staggering number of large smallmouth with over 50 fish reaching trophy status, 20″ plus!! The smallmouth are still biting but they are moving much slower. They’re bellies are round and look like they couldn’t eat another bite but it’s still hard for them to turn away an easy meal. As fun as smallmouth are, I’m excited to see the water temps dropping into the low 50’s and high 40’s.
With the lower temps the walleye bite has been getting better by the day. We’ve had a decent bite going on some of the shallower lakes, but nothing consistent day to day. With the cooler temps we should see the deeper lakes coming alive for the typical fall jig bite that many anglers look forward to. This past weekend we had evening trolling reports that were very good! Anglers reported double digit numbers of walleye with some nice picture fish in the mix. Most of the walleye were caught on crankbaits in 3-10 foot of water. Generally the week after a full moon and cool temps the jig bite is hot, so I have high hopes for the next couple weeks. I will be spending most of my time in 15’-30’ feet of water with a 3/8oz jig and a minnow. Look for points and steep breaks close to deep water (40’ plus) for the best concentration of walleye. Good luck and enjoy the beautiful fall weather!
The ice conditions continue to improve. The warm temps last week didn’t hurt a thing. In fact they may have helped by melting most of the insulating snow. Here are samplings of ice thicknesses across the area. *Note these ice thicknesses were taken 200-300yrds out from the public accesses so thicknesses will vary in other parts of the lake.
Maple – 8” (ATV/Snowmobile traffic)
Mary – 8” (ATV/Snowmobile traffic)
Lil Mary – 14” (Some vehicle traffic)
Miltona – 8” (ATV/Snowmobile traffic)
Ida – 8” (ATV/Snowmobile traffic)
Reno – 14” (Lots of vehicle traffic)
Geneva – 8” (ATV/Snowmobile traffic)
Le Homme dieu – 12” (ATV/Snowmobile traffic)
Oscar – 12” (Some vehicle traffic)
Limits of crappie, walleye and sunfish are being caught daily, so it’s a great time to get the family out on the ice. There are already 100s of ice houses scattered around the area and I expect the long weekend to bring in many more. I wish everyone a happy and safe New Year with plenty of big fish!
As we work our way into late season ice fishing the bite is right on track with what I’d call typical. The walleye bite is slowing down and the panfish are stealing the show. We have nearly two feet of great ice and almost no snow, so it’s a great year to own an Ice Castle! Fisherman of all types have been able to enjoy the lakes this year.
The walleye are still very catchable but the “good” reports are few and far in-between lately. Even though the average angler is only getting a couple a night, I’ve seen and heard of some very large walleye being caught (28″-30″). Any angler would be happy to call one of those a trophy! Most of the walleye seem to be coming from the outside weed edge in 18′-24′ on a plain hook and a shiner.
The walleye might be slowing down, but the good sunfish and crappie bites are popping out of the woodwork, so to speak. Even lakes that were slow earlier in the year are now doing well. 15′-20’ basin areas have been the hottest bites around. A small #10-#12 ice jig tipped with a Euro or wax worm has been all you need.
Over the past week I’ve heard of quite a few trophy sized sunfish and crappie being caught and released. Of course plenty for the pan as well, but it’s nice to hear the big ones getting let go. If we don’t release the big panfish, we won’t have big panfish… plain and simple. So take enough to eat, but let the big girls go to spawn. No one is stocking panfish, so it’s up to us to conserve. Most of the time any sunfish over 9” or crappie over 12” I catch goes back to spawn and become someone else’s trophy! If we continue this practice I have no doubt our kids and grandkids will as good or better fishing than we have!
I look forward to another great week of fishing, so get the family up here to enjoy the beautiful lakes area!
Right now the fishing is as good as it gets for bluegill(sunfish) and crappie. We have around 30 inches of quality ice on most of the lakes and vehicle travel is quite easy right now. The 10 day forecast shows below freezing temps at night and low 40’s to low 30’s for highs, so the ice is going nowhere fast. I expect we will have fishable ice for weeks yet. Many of you may be more than ready for spring to come but, if life gives you ice, you better just go fishing!
We’re consistently catching eater sized crappie and sunfish in very good numbers. Including a decent number of sunfish 9”-10”+ and crappie 13”-15” that we are letting go. In fact just yesterday we let go a pile of sunfish around 9.5 inches and some crappie as big as 14 inches. It sure is a great day when you can keep a bunch of medium sized fish to eat, get a tan and still let go a good number of very large fish to spawn another day.
The sunfish and crappie are still holding tight to their mid-winter locations. I’m sure some fish are moving shallow but I haven’t had to chase them yet. There is still a very large number of panfish in 15’-20’ foot of water and they have been very willing to bite most of the time. The past couple weeks have been some of the best panfishing I’ve had all season and I expect them to just keep biting until ice out.
The best technique has been a small horizontal Lindy Toad(#12) tipped with Euro larva during the day and at night I like to use a small jig or plain hook tipped with a crappie minnow. Generally I like to be very active and look for fish during the day. The more holes I drill and the more I move, the more fish I normally catch. Whereas at night, I try to locate an area holding a few fish and then set up with bobbers and minnows to simply wait for them to come to me. These two strategies are very different, but they both work very well when used at the correct time of day. Have fun and see you on the ice!
What’s better than catching hundreds and hundreds of huge small mouth bass…? If I think of something I’ll let you know! The past few weeks has been as good as it gets for fishing in general. Beautiful weather, endless hard fighting action and the size of the fish has been outstanding. We’ve already caught numerous trophy sized fish and I hope to catch many more! In my opinion Sept/Oct is the best time to fish small mouth. These fish school up and hunt in large schools or packs as I like to call them. They almost resemble a pack of wolves in their eating habits, so the term “pack” seems to fit them better. They will herd their prey (minnows and other smaller fish) to the surface or against shore and then attack. It’s amazing to see nature at work. These fish will never eat more than they do at this time of year. You can actually see them get rounder and rounder as the days go by.We’ve been catching most of our fish in 1′-10′ feet of water. The best areas are mostly hard bottom with some type of structure. For example, my favorite areas are shallow rocks with deep water nearby. My preferred baits are anything that resembles it’s natural forage, minnows and frogs. Minnows are obviously present year round and are the number one baits to use, but don’t forget about frogs. They make a huge push back to the water this time of year, so this makes an imitation frog lure popping along the shoreline very effective! Over the next few weeks the water temp will continue to drop and so will the small mouths’ appetite. You still have a couple weeks to get in on the hot bite, but after that you’ll have to wait for next year. You can still catch small mouth but they won’t be eating as much or as often as they are right now.Speaking of the water temps dropping… one of the best times to catch walleye is fast approaching! Generally once the small mouth slow down the walleye will start their own feeding binge. I’ve already heard of numerous reports of good walleye action starting. The walleye bite is still sporadic, but it will only get stronger with each passing day. Especially if we get some cooler temps soon. That always seems to seal the deal and the walleye start feeding heavily. I’d recommend using an 1/8oz – 1/2oz jig and minnow for the walleye. This is by far the most versatile and productive technique to put walleye in your boat this fall.Like always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me at,email@example.com
This is going to just be a quick report. In fact I’m on the ice right now. We have close to 30 in of ice everywhere I’ve checked. The ice is very solid and we had the wheel house out last weekend. The accesses are getting a little beat up now but you should be able to get out easily with a snowmobile or four wheeler most everywhere.
We’ve been having our best luck in 8 to 16 foot of water for sunfish and crappies. During the day we are just using Euro larvae and a #12 Lindy toad. After dark we’re using the same presentation tipped with a minnow.
We will have good fishable ice easily throughout the weekend and I will post another update the middle of next week. This is some of the nicest weather and best fishing of the year! If you still have your ice fishing stuff out come on out and enjoy some great fishing. If you don’t have your ice fishing stuff still out, get it out! They’re biting! Good luck.
The fishing around the Alexandria area remains strong. The bass, northern and panfish seem to bite at will on almost every lake right now. The walleye on the other hand have been a bit more hot and cold. One night the walleye are jumping in the boat and the next you have to work for them. With that said, there has still been many lakes kicking out limits of walleye over the past week.
I’ve been finding bass and northern nearly everywhere on the lakes right now. Deep weed lines in 18′ foot seem to hold as many fish as the outside pencil reeds in 4-6 foot of water. Casting a top water bait or jigging your favorite plastic have all been producing a lot of fish.
As usual the panfish have been extremely hungry. Both sunfish and crappie have been biting well but the sunfish are much easier to find. A small jig under a bobber in 12-16 foot of water has been all that’s needed to catch a pile of tasty sunfish. Crappie have been a bit more difficult to track down, but most of them seem to be suspended over the weed tops in 12′-16′ feet of water. The guys that are fishing them hard are catching great numbers and size. A small 1/32oz jig and a white twister tail has been working quite well.
My main concentration has been walleye. I’ve been primarily using lindy rigs with leeches and nightcrawlers. I’m trolling these lindy rigs very slow at .0mph to .5mph. I’ve been finding most of my walleye on the outside weed edge in 16′-22′ feet of water. This is where they have been the most active. I’m also locating a good number of walleye in deeper water (25′-30′), but they have been much more difficult to catch. Regardless of where you find them I’d recommend moving through them as slow as possible with a lindy rig for the best results.
As always let me know if you have any questions about a certain lake or tactic and I will do my best to answer it. Good luck!