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Jarrid Houston column: Time for big bait, big pike in weeds

Stop and say "hi" at the Duluth Sport Show.

Jarrid Houston
Jarrid Houston

As I write this report, the precipitation continues to pour down. The last few days have had lakes mostly clear of angling pressure after being hit pretty hard over the warm weather weekend.

Overall, fishing has been mostly a challenge the past couple weeks. Doesn’t mean some bites haven’t been active, but it’s been a grind to find success. The other challenge most of us continue to experience is ice conditions on most area waters.

The silver lining of this week’s rain episode is that it should water down the surface to prime it for a freeze, so traveling on lakes might get better. As is always a thing with fishing, we shall see.

Let’s get into our report:

Lake Superior anglers on Chequamegon Bay have reported mixed success this past week. Our team has struggled to find any consistency all season long. Some days we are getting them and some days we are not — a familiar tune for most of the Gitch angling community recently.


Sales were down some in 2022 after a record 2021, but still above pre-pandemic years as the country's love affair with boats continues.

Best bet is to spend ample amounts of time on the water. I know this is obvious, but more time on the water will boost success. Tactical approaches should continue to stick to shiny jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head in conjunction with set lines spread out over an area. As usual, try to avoid traffic.

Our best bites have come when everyone has cleaned up and taken off the ice because of a dead morning bite. There’s a hint there. A reminder to be careful on Lake Superior ice as we have more than started the move to last-phase Gitch ice season.

The St. Louis River Estuary has had a few smaller walleyes coming top side during the low-light periods and occasionally a mid-morning bite. Fish should be getting more active as we climb closer to the end of the season. Continue to seek out undisturbed shallow-to-mid-depth flats. I prefer 6-12 feet of water this time of year. The back-bay panfishing was slow this past week. Again, that should pick up over the next few weeks.

Inland lake fishing has again been the best bet for success. This time of year the pike will be putting on a heavy eating binge. Don’t be afraid to start using bigger baits in typical, weedy pike traffic routes.

Opening day saw thigh-deep snow in places along the river but otherwise decent conditions.
Titled “Mink Sink, Swim on Burbot Catch,” the 1954 article featured commercial fishermen who were netting the “voracious predatory monsters” through the ice on Lake of the Woods for use as mink food.
Compiling information for the book required untold amounts of windshield time traveling across the state and hours of research tracking down duck camp members or descendants.
Studies are probing steelhead and brook trout genetics, as well as all fish diets during a lake herring boom.
Check out Jarrid's seminars at the Douglas County Fish & Game League Sports Show this weekend.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report for the week of March 20.
Last fall's steelhead run was down a bit from 2021 and from the long-term average.
Based on DNR creel surveys, anglers landed an estimated 15,000 crappies this winter on Upper Red, compared with about 900 crappies, on average, over the previous 10 winters or more.
Lake Superior will be a popular choice for early-spring open-water fishing.
Firefighters responded only to find their water rescue services weren't needed.

Our friend, Randy Stank, had a cool story this last week when a northern pike took both set lines tipped with shiners and swallowed both hooks into its stomach before being caught. His flags were spread about 25 yards apart and went off within a minute of one another. Thanks, Randy!

The panfish are getting more active, especially in the mid afternoons, and even more especially in the hard to reach soft bottom substrate area with cabbage coverage. Small tungsten jigs tipped with plastics is the best bet, but simple hook 'n’ bobber set-ups will take fish, too. Walleyes are going well on some fisheries, and not so good on others. Continue to try mid-lake structure in deeper waters of 20 to over 30 feet of water.

Make sure to come on down and visit all the fun at this weekend’s Duluth Sport Show. I’ll be spending most of my time with the Lund Boats crew over at the RJs Sport and Cycle booth as weep as conducting some seminars. Our Houston Guide Service booth will be front and center this year as you head through the entrance. Make sure to swing by and say "hi."

All the best hooksets!


It runs Feb. 16-19 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

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.
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