Jarrid Houston column: Try out of the way areas for late-ice panfish
We've finally crossed the spring solstice. This last week has actually felt like it, too. Warming temperatures have already started to eat away at snow and ice and will continue to push our waters into late season ice fish mode. With that should ...
We've finally crossed the spring solstice. This last week has actually felt like it, too. Warming temperatures have already started to eat away at snow and ice and will continue to push our waters into late season ice fish mode. With that should come new reminders of safety. Late ice hazards, in my opinion, are much greater than early ice thanks to soft cored molecular mass, otherwise known as rotting ice. Anglers should not forget to bring proper safety equipment and make smart choices. The most hazardous spots that will lose the most strength are shorelines and areas near springs. We still have a long way to go until ice out, but we are now well on the way. Matter of fact, I forecast we will have an average ice out despite the thick ice and cold winter we endured.
In the next week, ice conditions on most inland waters will be perfect for mobility. It's time to break out the boot spikes once again as things will get slippery with the snow disappearing.
Lake Superior has lost ice at a rapid rate. Ice coverage is shrinking by the second, making for dangerous conditions. We have suspended all of our Lake Superior Ice outings until next year. With the spring temperatures and now the ice breaking operations, ice on Lake Superior will be gone. Now is a good time to prepare for tributary fishing and shorelanding for Kamloops. For those that need more ice outings on the Gitch, your best bet is going to be Chequamegon Bay areas of Ashland and Washburn.
St. Louis River continues to be on the quieter side, except for "some" anglers targeting the back bays in search of panfish. Ice conditions continue to be a bit of a challenge, but should get better in the next week. Machine travel is next to impossible without getting stuck. Crappies, gills and a few perch have been the common catch. Fish are running contour edges in schools. Best tactic has been 1/16 oz jigs with crappie minnows or small 1/32 oz jigs tipped with wax worms. Dead sticks are taking a few fish as well. Reminder that sport fish (pike, bass and walleyes are closed for the year).
Inland lake fishing is heating up with the longer bite windows. Best time has been mid-afternoon, when daytime temperatures are at the highest. Panfish continue to roam soft bottom basins. It is important to set up near contour edges as the fish seem to relate to them, especially this time of year. Don't be afraid to seek out areas that look like they have had little to no pressure as these can be magical spots. Last weekend we explored a shallower back bay of an inland lake and were rewarded with big crappies feeding off of vegetation. Fishing in heavy weed coverage can be very good.
Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide (houstonsguideservice.com) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.