We have no safe ice yet.
Lots of anglers are antsy to get out ice fishing because of the recent weather we've had. We do not encourage anyone to get out on the ice yet. If you must ice-fish, Upper Red Lake has had some foot traffic. With all that said, closer to home, we must endure a little more time.
Our recommendation for safe ice is nothing less than 5 inches for foot traffic. Be sure to check in with resorts, guides or bait shops for the latest information. Remember, no ice is safe, and no fish is worth the risk. Plus, we still have plenty of open-water fishing opportunities.
Or, I should say we still have open-water fishing opportunities for die-hard anglers. This is the best time to be out targeting muskies. Reports of some nice muskies have been coming in from the Iron River area of Wisconsin as well as Island Lake north of Duluth. The best tactic has been slow-drifting large sucker minnows with quick-strike rigs. Other anglers are having mixed success with chucking large baits at shorelines. This is the time of year when muskies can be at their largest body weight.
St. Louis River traffic has slowed. A few anglers are still venturing out and having success for walleyes and crappies. The jig-and-minnow approach has been best. There are shore-fishing opportunities on the river for those who have put away their boats.
Inland fishing has shown some promise with good walleye bites coming off of deeper transitional waters. The jig-and-minnow presentation has been the ticket in these areas as well. Trust your electronics when searching out fish. The best depths have been in the 15-foot range. The panfish bite has slowed, but a few crappies are still showing up. Seek out structure and common wintering holes for the best action.
Stream fishing has been on the quiet side this past week. I'm guessing that's because of the weather and also because deer hunting season is in full force. That doesn't mean fish are not being caught. There have been reports of anglers catching a few steelhead, coho and browns. Swinging flies with X-patterns has been paying off. Some anglers are still having success with hardware in the fast current areas as well. Float indicators over yarn in deeper holes has been a good bet.
Lake Superior has been quiet.
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.