Ice fishing still going strong

Published 10:27 pm Sunday, February 12, 2012

With the weather that we have been experiencing, ice conditions may not be ideal in our part of the state for ice fishing, but there is still fishing to be done before the Feb. 26 deadline for game fish. Crappies, sunnies and perch are continuous.

Locally, the walleye bite has slowed down but there are still perch, crappie and sunnies to be had. The city beach area seems to be best for sunnies, and crappies have been biting on some areas of Fountain Lake and also in the channel. The ice on Fountain is 7 to 10 inches in most areas and the channel is reportedly quite a bit thicker.

I find it amazing that we have so many fishermen in the area who enjoy the sport of ice fishing. I guess amazing is a pretty strong statement considering that we are Minnesotans and most of us do love our outdoors, but just counting the number of houses on the channel — permanent or temporary — it is pretty impressive.

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The thing about ice fishing is that you can sit on the water in a portable shelter or just on a bucket and still not have a lot of money invested. This is a great way to take advantage of another one of the things that our great outdoors has to offer the sportsman in Minnesota.

This is the time of year when I usually start to get the dreaded cabin fever, but this year’s mild winter almost makes me feel guilty about wishing for spring. If you want to do a little damage control and make waiting for spring a little easier, there are numerous sports shows that are coming up in the next couple of months. Although I haven’t attended one for quite a few years, I have always found them to be a great way to get the adrenaline flowing and the blood pumping in anticipation of the open-water fishing that lies ahead.

Another great pacifier for open-water fishing is watching fishing shows. Although I don’t see myself fishing for peacock bass in South America or marlin off the coast of Florida, there are numerous shows that concentrate on fishing in the Midwest and that includes a variety of shows that concentrate on Minnesota and Wisconsin in particular.

Looking back at past winters that were indeed a lot more seasonal, I can recall spending many Saturday afternoons in the basement cleaning out and rearranging my tackle boxes while listening to Ray Christensen broadcasting Gophers basketball games or Al Shaver calling a North Stars hockey game.

To me, Ray Christensen was the voice of Gophers sports, and Al Shaver could call a hockey game like no other. As for the cleaning of the tackle boxes, just listening to those two guys made it just that much more enjoyable.

Until next time, play safe, watch out for thin ice, good fishing and enjoy the Minnesota outdoors experience.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the holidays and the coming year. They are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

Statewide fishing reports

Bemidji: Area lakes have 16-20 inches of ice with people driving out everywhere. For walleyes, try Bemidji off the rock piles on the north end off the State Park in 18-24 feet. Walleyes also biting on Plantangenet, Wolfe, Andrusia, same depths. For panfish, try Kitchi using waxworms or crappie minnows. Crappies are in 5-7 feet suspended off the bottom. For sunfish use waxworms on Grace. Perch are biting on Bemidji off of Cameron in 24-28 feet.

Crosby: Panfish and pike have taken the spotlight this past week; Milford, Bay, Nokay, Farm Island and Black Bear are all producing crappies in 17 to 30 feet of water on crappie minnows or waxies on glow jigs. Pike are taking sucker minnows along the weedlines on Serpent and Rabbit as well as some of the smaller lakes.

Winnibigoshish: The weather has been unbelievable for this time of year and fisherman are getting around Big Winnie and being able to catch lots of nice perch and several walleyes and northern pike. Right now if you are looking for numbers of nice perch, the shallow bite has been a little better in most cases in depths of 12-18 feet near breaklines and even on the edges of existing weeds.

Dick Herfindahl’s column appears each Sunday in the Tribune.