Ice fishing across west central Minnesota is in full swing. The ice quality is in absolute excellent shape, and the fishing has been outstanding as well. Due to the excellent ice fishing conditions in Alexandria there are some lakes that are literally peppered with houses of all colors and sizes. With over 140 lakes in Douglas County to choose from, there are lakes with hundreds upon hundreds of houses as well as lakes with no houses at all. If you have the time and are willing to explore, there are dozens of great lakes you could have all to yourself. It almost feels like it’s your private lake when you make the first tracks onto an untouched snow covered lake.
Over the past few weeks the weather has been rough on us ice anglers. We’ve had just about every type of weather imaginable from sunny and calm to windy and cold. You just never know what to expect next. No matter the weather, the important thing to do is to get out there. You can’t catch anything sitting at home and there are always fish biting… always!
This past week I had a client come in from Virginia. He was visiting Minnesota and decided he wanted the true Minnesota fishing/winter experience no matter what the weather report said. The wind was forecasted to reach 50mph by noon that day, so I knew he was going to experience winter, I was just hoping we’d have some great fishing to go with his memories of the cold weather.
We hit the ice about 10:00am and started to drill a line of holes along the edge of a deeper basin in about 16feet of water. We didn’t have much time, but we quickly read some nice fish about a foot off bottom. With the storm approaching the barometer was falling fast, and that generally means the fish will be very active. We noticed right away that the fish were very responsive to our baits and it didn’t take long to ice a couple very nice crappies. We were using #12 Lindy Toad ice jigs tipped with Euro Larvae. The fish were moving from hole to hole quickly as if they were trying to eat as much as possible before the storm. We fished for about an hour and half before the wind started to pick up. We caught quite a few very nice crappies averaging 11”-12”. These are the perfect size for eating. If they were any bigger we would have let them go. The DNR doesn’t stock crappie, so it’s essential to our fisheries that you let go crappie over 12” so they can spawn.
It was almost noon and the wind was howling, it seemed like the weather went from a 10mph wind and sunny to 40mph gusts and snowing in about 10 minutes. It was definitely a change in weather my friend from Virginia wasn’t accustomed to seeing. The fish that were once actively swimming around eating anything that wiggled were now lethargic and difficult to coax into biting. We fished in the portable house for another couple hours listening to the wind howl. Even though the fishing was much slower, we continued to pick up a nice fish here and there. We ended up catching a nice pile of fish for supper and letting a bunch go to fight another day. It was truly a great day to experience Minnesota, and I was glad a poor forecast didn’t keep us from going. Like I said earlier, you can’t catch anything at home and there is always something biting in Alexandria!