There was snow in the air recently. Not much, but enough to remind me of something that I didn’t need to be reminded of: Winter is getting closer.
We could be ice-fishing on small ponds and lakes in less than a month. I enjoy ice-fishing more now than I did in the past. I am planning some of my ice-fishing trips for the upcoming season right now. Following are some locations you might want to consider if you want to get in on some outstanding ice-fishing action this year.
Clear Lake is developing a reputation of being one of the best multi-specie lakes in the Midwest. On a trip to Clear Lake last year, we caught dozens of yellow bass, white bass, crappies, bluegills -- even a big catfish. If we had fished different areas, we would have caught some walleyes.
However, yellow bass are the primary draw to Clear Lake. When you get on the yellows, the bite is non-stop. Yellow bass are wonderful table fare, and there is no daily or possession limit for yellow bass on Clear Lake. If you’re looking for the ingredients for a fish-fry, Clear Lake’s yellow bass are the deal.
Yellow bass are mostly smaller fish, mostly less than 10 inches, but you will catch some bigger ones. Tiny baits are best for yellows. Northland’s Mooska Tungsten Jig or Banana Bug tipped with a tiny minnow will catch yellow bass anywhere.
Lake Winnibigoshish in north central Minnesota is historically a favored ice-fishing destination for many Midwest ice-anglers. Perch are the target for most of those anglers. Winnie has lots of perch -- good numbers of big ones and lots of eaters.
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On Winnie last year, we were fishing water about 20 feet deep. We could see fish on the sonar that were right on the bottom but we only let our baits go down about 15 feet. These perch were so competitive that they would come up that high to eat our spoons.
When they quit coming up that far, we let the bait get closer to the bottom. We would catch a few more, then we’d move to another hole. Fast, fast fishing, and again, really good eating. Visit mcardlesresort.com for more Winnie information.
Another must-visit location is Big Stone Lake on the Minnesota-South Dakota border. Big Stone has become one of the Midwest’s better perch fisheries. You’ll get big ones, and you’ll get lots of them.
I’ve visited Big Stone twice in the past two years. Both times I’ve arrived during not-so-good fishing conditions and both times we still caught lots of fish. One of the keys on Big Stone, like on many other bodies of water, is to keep moving until the perch are located.
Sixteenth-ounce Forage Minnow Spoons and Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons tipped with a small minnow or a tiny piece of Impulse plastic are perch killers on Big Stone and everywhere else.
Experiment with color and lure action until the fish show you what they want. Sometimes they want a particular color and sometimes they want an aggressively jigged spoon; other times they want a more subtle presentation. Visit Big Stone Lake at bigstonelakechamber.com.
Today’s ice-angler has clothing that keeps us comfortable on the ice and equipment is available that will enable us to have a very good opportunity for fish-catching success. If you like ice-fishing, consider one of the locations mentioned above. If you haven’t discovered ice-fishing, consider doing so as soon as the ice is safe.