The best bite this past week has been on inland lakes, where we're chasing crappies and bluegills. It seems that if you can find an active daytime honey-hole for bluegills, you can sit it out until dusk and find some crappies. Light tackle such as small tungsten jigs and soft plastics seem to be the best presentation. We are also seeing fish come on waxworms and spikes (maggots).
We've been having a tough time getting crappies to bite crappie minnows off of dead sticks. Pike, bass and the occasional walleye are still being taken on tip-ups with live bait rigs. Targeting transitional areas such as weedlines, or mud to rock/gravel, have been the best locations.
The St. Louis River has been slow lately, and we have been working extra hard to get a few fish. We have been seeing walleyes on the electronics but have had a hard time getting them to bite. Using spoon baits tipped with minnow heads or jigging stickbaits seem to bring in the most lookers and the occasional taker. Walleye fishing should get better as we climb closer to the end of the official season, and fish from the big lake begin to stage. Remember the importance of selective harvest on the bigger females. Some of these fish lay thousands of eggs.
Sturgeon seem to be active if one chooses to target them. Using a dead stick with a clump of dead minnows on the bottom will turn fish. If you hook one of these fish, don't plan to see anything else for a while. The fight will scare off other fish.
The rare Lake Superior ice in the Twin Ports area has shown up again, but is very dangerous. A few anglers in the confines of the McQuade Small Craft Harbor are targeting the occasional Kamloops rainbow, but without much success. Some anglers have been taking to the breakwall in Two Harbors as well casting long rods for open water salmon or 'loopers.
The best bet for ice fishing Lake Superior continues to be the Chequamegon Bay area. Fish are being caught near shore at depths of 10 to 30 feet. The best success has been off tip-ups rigged with lake shiners set halfway down the water column. The whitefish and splake have all come on jigging spoons or jigging Raps tipped with minnow heads. If you get a mark on the radar, reel up fast and play keep-away. That's your best bet to get the fish to bite. If you let it look at your lure, it's gone.
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.