Keep in mind that when venturing out onto the ice that you check the ice thickness frequently. Each lake creates ice at a different rate, so never assume all ice thicknesses are the same. Generally the shallower the lake the quicker it’ll freeze, so that’s why lakes like Mary and Reno see some of the first ice anglers of the year. In fact there were anglers all over these lakes well before there was any ice at all on some of the deeper lakes like Miltona and Ida. Once a lake finally freezes over completely it doesn’t take long to form “walkable” ice. Especially when we have the subzero temps like we’ve been having. In a 24hr period of below zero temps I’ve recorded lakes making up to 2-3” of ice.
Even though ice fishing is one of the safest outdoor sports anyone can do, I still like to recommend using caution. As long as you never assume the ice thickness you are on and check frequently you are in little to no danger. Please take a look at the picture below. It’s a simple table showing what ice thicknesses are recommend for each mode of transportation while traveling on the ice. Currently I’m finding around 6-8” of ice on most of the lakes in the area.
Now to the fishing report, I’ve been having decent luck on walleye in 10-25 feet of water. I like to choose areas that have a steep drop off to deep water. My favorite bait this year has been a 3/16oz Perch colored Frostee with a minnow head. Simply just bounce the lure on bottom and then hold it up an inch or two. The walleye absolutely can’t resist this presentation right as the sun is setting. This technique will work on any lake in the area.
The sunfish and crappie have also been biting well. I’ve heard of limits of nice fish coming from about a dozen different lakes across the area. It depends on the lake, but in general the sunfish are in about 15 feet of water in shallow weedy bays off of the main lakes. You can also find crappie in these areas, but the best reports have come from people fishing suspended crappie in deeper water. People are setting up in 25-30 feet of water and fishing down about 15-20 feet. An 1/8oz Frostee jigging spoon or Lindy Toad would be my lures of choice for panfish. Tip either one of these with a Euro larva or wax worm and you should be half way to your fish fry!
Merry Christmas everyone and good luck fishing! Feel free to shoot me an email with any specific questions you might have at firstname.lastname@example.org
Quick Update 1/2/2013
The ice is getting thicker by the day. We currently have 12”-16” of ice with 2”-4” of snow on top. The lakes are in perfect condition for large fish houses. If you have a big wheel house pull it up to Alexandria and explore. The fish are still biting quite well. I was fishing walleye the other night right before dark; I was only out for an hour but ended up with 4 nice sized walleye! I was in 24fow jigging a 1/8” gold Frostee spoon and a minnow. Good luck!