ALEXANDRIA LAKES AREA
Fishing Reports provided by Lindy Pro Guide Joe Scegura.
Feb 19th Fishing Report
As the snow piles continue to grow, another Winter month has come and gone. The calendar tells us spring is on the way, but it's difficult to see any real signs that it's near. With over 30" of ice on many of the lakes, this year is shaping up to be similar to last year. We were ice fishing well into April and we still had ice on the lakes for our May walleye opener. Depending on the person, all this cold and ice will get different reviews. The average person may be counting the days until summer, but to the many avid ice anglers things couldn't be better!
The sunfish and crappie action remains hot. I've been finding the majority of my fish near deep water on the breaks in 15-30 foot of water. Depending on the lake "deep water" may be anywhere from 20-50 feet down. Panfish like to concentrate near the edge of these deep basin areas making them fairly predictable. I usually drill 20-30 holes to start with, along the edge of one of these breaks. If I don't read a decent number of fish I just keep drilling until I do.
The other day I decided to try some small lakes I hadn't been on in a while in hopes of finding the next hot bite. These small lakes can pay off huge at times. You can literally be the only person on the lake catching fish hand over fist with some even reaching trophy caliber. It's the possibility of finding something no one else knows about that makes all the work worth while, even if on this given day we didn't locate the caliber of fish we were after. We still managed to find large numbers of sunfish and crappie, as well as some very nice perch. This is one of the reasons I love the Alexandria area so much. There are very few places you can catch hundreds of fish in a day and hope to do better the next.
As for walleye fishing, it continues to be on the slow side for me. Finding the fish hasn't been an issue, it's getting them to bite on a consistent basis that's been very difficult. One night you can go out and catch a limit of nice walleye, only to get skunked the very next night. This is typical with late season walleye. Generally during this time of the year I try to increase my odds by only fishing in low light time periods. Right before a storm is also an excellent time to try your luck at some late season walleye. Walleye closes February 23rd so get out there while you can!
January 20th Report
Secrets to Catching Big Daytime Bluegill and Crappie!
The ice conditions across the area are excellent. I’ve been finding anywhere from 18”-24” of ice on average with vehicle traffic nearly everywhere. The only issue has been the snow and blowing snow. The bigger lakes such as Osakis, Minnewaska, Miltona and the Chain of Lakes will most likely have plowed roads. There are also smaller lakes with good plowed roads, but it is more hit and miss. Snowmobiles are an excellent way to get around and allow you to fish away from other anglers, but if that is not an option you can get to plenty of great fishing areas by vehicle. There are people plowing new roads everyday so there always seems to be a lot of options.
The fishing across the Alexandria area has been and continues to be downright outstanding. We’ve been catching quality northern, walleye, bluegill and crappie on a number of lakes. I’ve also heard good reports from many other lakes I haven’t even had time to fish yet. I write a lot about catching walleye, so I figured I’d dedicate this article to the finer points of catching big panfish during the day.
Regardless of how well I feel the fishing is I still see and hear of anglers struggling to catch quality sunfish and crappie during the day. The most common reason I see people struggling is they use what works for them in the low light time periods and expect it to work during the day, such as using heavy equipment and sitting in one spot. When in reality the two time periods require very different techniques and equipment.
In general, quality fish are finicky by nature. Then, add in the factor of daylight, and these fish become very particular on what they will eat. Even when they do decide to bite it will usually be a very tentative light bite. That’s why the common panfish setup people use (a medium action rod with 4-6 pound test line, #6 or #8 hook, wax worm or minnow and a bobber) will most often not work. These fish can see very well during the day, so that means the bait must move and look as natural as possible for the fish to bite. I recommend a light but sensitive rod with 2 or 3 lb test line for this type of fishing. For a hook I’d recommend a small #12 hook. I prefer a horizontal jig like the #12 Lindy Toad. For bait I also like to keep things small. I usually use 1 or 2 Euro larva on my jig at time. If I use any more than that or a large wax worm I feel I start to push away many of the light biting big bluegill.
The jigging technique is a two part operation. The first part is the constant jiggle, and the second is the vertical movement. The majority of people do not realize how fine the jiggle needs to be to make a fish bite. I actually call it more of a wiggle or vibration than a “jiggle”. It has to be extremely light. I almost hold it still at times and let my nerves/heart beat wiggle the tip of the rod. Now that you have the intensity of the wiggle down, let’s talk about the vertical movement in the water column. (Note: everything I’m about to explain is based off the use of a fish locator such as Vexilar, Hummingbird, Marcum. They are all quality units.) I like to start by dropping my lure down through the fish. Then, slowly raise the jig (about an 1/8 inch per second) while you wiggle the jig. It’s important to keep moving the jig up as the fish raises toward your bait. Fish naturally feed up and the continued upward movement makes the fish feel it’s going to get away so they are more apt to bite it. Very commonly they do not bite the bait on the first sequence. There are times I’ve dropped down and jigged up a dozen times to finally get a stubborn giant bluegill to tap my lure. It’s a bit of a game, and it sure is gratifying when you outsmart something so cautious.
The last part of this puzzle is to stay on fish. You can do all of the above, but if you don’t move until you find fish it will be for nothing. I like to start with 15-20 holes in an area I feel will hold fish. Then I’ll check each hole with my locator. If there are two or more suspended fish in a hole I’ll quickly drop my lure down. I’ll fish there as long as I read a good number of fish, but there are many times when I’ll leave a hole with fish to find a hole with even more fish. The more fish you have down a given hole the more competition there is. This makes the fish think more about missing out on a tasty meal than why they shouldn’t bite your offering. I see many people get too comfortable and sit on the same couple holes all day catching one here or there. It's hard for them to move because they're catching fish. I'm here to tell you it can be so much better than a couple fish.
Grab the family and come explore one of our amazing fisheries! Good luck, and feel free to email me with any questions you might have. Good Luck!
November 2013 Report:
First Ice Report, Dec 14th
Ice across the Alexandria area is forming quickly this year with a good layer of ice on most of the lakes. Currently the ice ranges from 6"-12" thick with the smaller lakes having the thickest ice. As long as the typical danger spots are avoided the ice is considered very safe right now for anyone wanting to walk out. I've even started to see people driving vehicles out, of course this is not recommended. I do like to note this though, because it stresses the fact that the ice is safe for walking and is ready to be fished!
Anglers have been doing well on walleye, sunfish and crappie as of late. There are so many good lake options when it comes to fishing the Alexandria area it can be difficult choosing which one to fish. There are always lakes that get more attention than others, but keep in mind that some of the best bites are happening on lakes with little to no anglers on them. Almost all of the lakes in the area have a fishable population of walleye and panfish.
The panfish have been very active during both the day and night. The weedy bays in 10-15fow have been best. I use a #12 Lindy Toad with a euro Larva and 2-3 pound test line during the day. During the evening I can get away with 4-6 pound line and a Frostee jig with a crappie minnow.
I've been having my best luck for walleye right where they were in the fall. Weed lines near deep water have always treated me well early in the ice season. My best bait has been a 1/8-3/16oz Perch colored Frostee tipped with a minnow or partial minnow. Last night I was out and the walleye were just crushing the bait. They would come in on the locator for only a second and immediately fly up to the bait to hit it. This is not always the case though. Many evenings the fish will come in slow and you will have to work the bait up and down a number of times to get the fish to bite. Even if you do everything right you will generally notice a number of fish that are just not interested.
The fish change their aggressiveness towards baits continuously. There are numerous reasons they do this, but the most predictable is weather change. I watch storms just like I do in the summer. If I see a change in weather coming I'll do my best to be sitting on the ice right before the storm hits. The fish are much more aggressive during this time period. In fact, my best days of fishing have been in a light snow prior to the storms arrival.
Regardless of the weather, now is one of the best times to be on the ice. The fish are generally quite active, the ice is predictable and, as long as you don't drive a truck on 6" of ice, it's very safe to be out right now. If you have questions about a specific lake feel free to email me or call the local bait shop. But regardless of what anyone tells you the best way to stay safe is just check as you go. Follow the DNR's recommended ice thickness chart and you will be safe and dry. Good luck!
October 2013 Report:
The beautiful fall colors, the crisp cool air, and of course the excellent walleye fishing, are just a few of the reasons why I love fall in Minnesota. Walleye fishing this time of year is not only consistant it’s also one of the best times to catch a true trophy. There's nothing quite like bouncing a jig and a minnow up and down a steep break waiting for that slight thump. It gets my adrenaline pumping just thinking about it.
Fishing a jig and a minnow is one of the oldest and most widely used baits ever invented. Even though this is a rather simplistic bait, the ways to fish the lure are endless. Depending on your depth, bottom type, and time of year you may need to fish this lure completely different.
In the fall I mostly use a 3/8oz jig. I find it to be the best size jig to stay vertical yet catch finicky fish. Any lighter and it’s difficult to stay completely vertical, and any heavier you risk scaring off some of the fish. Take the jig and hook your minnow of choice through the mouth and out behind the head (see pic below). This will reduce the number of missed fish as well as keep your bait lively.
Now that you have the perfect bait let's talk about where to fish. The first step is deciding which one of the beautiful lakes in Alexandria you want to try. I base that decision on a number of things, but generally I do best on shallow lakes earlier in the fall. Then, as the temps drop, I transition to the deeper lakes. Regardless if I'm fishing a shallow or deep lake I look for the deepest areas on that lake. I then target points or steep breaks near these deep holes.
I've found the best presentation in these areas is very slow and completely vertical. Drop your jig to the bottom and lift your jig about 1-2" off bottom. Suspend your bait there for 5-10 seconds. Then, tap the bottom again and repeat. This technique works right through ice up, so even though the weather is getting colder every day the fish are there and waiting for you! I’d recommend some of the bigger and deeper lakes like Miltona, Ida, Carlos, or Latoka. These deeper lakes will stay ice free the longest and all give you a great chance at a trophy. It won’t be long and we’ll be talking about ice fishing so take advantage of the open water while it lasts. Generally by late November there will be enough ice on some of the smaller lakes for angling. My next report will discuss how to stay safe on the ice and catch some early ice walleye!
September 2013 Report:
September is arguably the best time of year to fish smallmouth bass. During this time period smallmouth school up to hunt bait fish. It doesn’t matter if they’re hungry or not, they just have to eat. This makes for a very consistent bite that anyone can enjoy. As the days get shorter and the water temps drop, these fish know it’s time to get ready for winter.
My best locations this year were shallow rock spots in 2-6 feet of water. More often than not these areas were flooded with smallmouth. As long as the area had bait, the fish would not be far away. Keeping on the move was essential in my success. If I didn’t actually see bait in the water or fish surfacing in the first 10 minutes I knew it was time to move.
Once I located a spot with activity it was as simple as trying a few of my favorite techniques. The fish would quickly tell me the type of lure they wanted for the day. There are quite a few lures I use for smallmouth in the fall, but it’s always hard to beat a large minnow or minnow imitation bait. When I’m looking for a true trophy sized smallmouth I’m not afraid to use baits in excess of 10”.
The average sized smallmouth this year was quite impressive, as were the numbers of fish brought to the boat. We caught an average of 50–75 fish a day, with some near or at trophy caliber. There were also days where near trophy fish were so frequent it was just impossible to get pictures of them all. When everyone in the boat is fighting a large fish at the same time you know you’re having fun! These fish pound for pound are the best fighting fish in Minnesota waters.
This is the perfect trip for kids and families because everyone is going to catch fish and have fun together. If you’re interested in taking a trip like this on your own or with a guide give me a call, I’m always happy to help. Great fishing is something everyone should enjoy at some point. It truly makes you appreciate the beauty our Minnesota waters have to offer.
October walleye fishing preview: The cool weather is here and the walleye fishing is improving by the day. We are already seeing large numbers of walleye being caught. The majority of the fish are on the smaller side, but you will catch a number of bigger fish as well. As the month continues the larger fish will get more and more frequent. Mid-Oct to mid-Nov is what I call the “prime time” walleye bite. A jig and a minnow is all you need to catch a good number of walleye during this time period. I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful fall day than sitting on a lake catching walleye. This is my favorite time of year to be in Alexandria!
Check out my next report for plenty of walleye pics and what worked best during the fall bite!
August 2013 Report:
The past month walleye fishing has been quite good, considering that August is usually one of the most difficult and intimidating times of the year to catch fish. There were definitely some days that were tougher than others, but in general catching a number of good walleye was common place. This wasn’t always the case for me in mid-summer though. I have many years of trial and error on the water prior to this season. In this short article I’ll explain some of the common mistakes I made, as well as the proven techniques I use today.
Like many anglers, I used to find myself fishing the same school of walleye for days trying to figure out what they wanted and when. I’d hover over these fish for hours, only to have them ignore nearly everything I had to offer. Sure I’d catch a fish here or there, but never something I could call a solid pattern. Most times of the year finding the fish is the hardest part, so it can be extremely frustrating to have fish act like your bait is not even there. I still figured if I waited they would eventually bite. After all this is the time period when fish are supposed to be growing the most, they should be aggressive right?
Well, fish are eating a lot during this time of year, but what I wasn’t taking into consideration was the amount of natural food available to them. The food I’m referring to is the young of the year perch about 2-3” long. Most lakes in central MN have an abundance of small perch by mid-summer, making it hard to compete with a leech, crawler or even a minnow. These fish are used to chasing and feeding on perch day in day out and are relatively well fed, so not every fish is going to be hungry.
That’s why pulling a spinner and a crawler or crank bait like a #5 Lindy Shadling are my go to techniques. These baits pulled at 1.0-2.5mph allow me to cover a large amount of water to find active fish. While I’m trolling speedily around the lake I’m always watching my Lowrance looking for schools of perch. These schools of perch can be literally anywhere, but I have my best luck on the outside weed edges in 16-24 feet of water. Generally, once I find the perch I’ll note the depth they are so I can pull my lures through the school. This technique will usually trigger most walleye in the area to strike.
Keep in mind these techniques are designed to catch walleye, but literally any species will hit these baits. I’ve had days were I’ve caught walleye, bass, northern, muskie and panfish all in the same day. Simply by locating the bait and picking up the speed you can turn so called picky fish into aggressive fish. These techniques work best for me when the water is warm in the hot summer months. Once the water starts to cool in September/October I switch over to my “fall” techniques that I use the rest of the open water season. I’ll talk about these techniques in detail in my next report. Good luck!
Late July 2013 Report:
Overall the fishing was quite good for July and looks to be just as good in August. The walleye are biting well, but as usual for this time of year the bite can be inconsistent. One night the bite is excellent and the next it can be slower. At least on the slow walleye days (clear and calm) there are plenty of other species to target. Alexandria has excellent bass, northern, sunfish and crappie. All of which are more than willing to bite when it’s hot and sunny.
One of the biggest tips I can give anyone is: you need to find fish in order to catch them. Sounds pretty obvious right? I see quite a few weekend anglers just fishing, hoping they stumble on some fish. What I’m here to tell you is with just a little effort it’s not hard to turn a day of fishing into a day of catching.
You can start by concentrating your efforts on the outside weed line in 16’-22’ feet of water (FOW). (Note: fish like to hold to underwater points and islands.) If you have a good locator you can just drive along the edge, scanning the bottom from 16’-22’ until you read fish. If you have a basic depth finder I’d recommend just simply trolling a Lindy Rig tipped with a lively leech or a night crawler. This is one of the best multi species techniques right now. Fishing a Lindy Rig will allow you to cover a lot of water quickly and find the active fish.
Once you have found active fish and you have identified the species, it might be beneficial to switch to a presentation that’s more typical to the species you’re catching. For example, if I find a school of bass or northern I may switch my Lindy/Leech out for a flexible steel leader and a 4-5” sucker minnow or possibly a crank bait like a Lindy Shadling. Or, if I run across a large school of panfish I’ll switch over to my bobber rods and tie on a small hair jig like a Little Nipper.
This time of year has some of the most enjoyable weather of the year, so what better way to enjoy it than sitting on the water catching some fish!
For more current information click the link at the top of the page to listen to my audio fishing reports.
June 2013 Report:
Well it’s hard to put it any other way, the fishing across the lakes area has just been outstanding. Generally by July the bite has been through some highs and lows, but this year it couldn't have been more consistent. A cooler than normal spring was a major factor in making this happen. Early June is always one of the best time periods for fishing but this year with cooler water temps, we experienced excellent fishing all of June and expect it to continue right into July.
Over the past month the walleye have transitioned from primarily minnows over to leeches and night crawlers. My techniques and presentation speeds change as the water temp does. With the cool temps in early June I trolled my Lindy rigs very slow, almost stopping at times. Now a few weeks later with temps in the mid 70's they are hitting spinners or crank baits being pulled at over 2mph. With that said there are times when the water is calm or a cold front has moved through where a very slow presentation is still needed.
I'm finding most of my fish right on the weed line, bass, northern, walleye, crappie and sunfish. The weed line depth will vary from lake to lake depending on water clarity. A weed line is the depth at which weeds no longer have enough sunlight to grow. You can easily find a weed line with a basic locator. I like to start in deep water and drive towards shore. Your locator will show a smooth bottom until you reach 20-14 feet of water, then the bottom will appear to be "bumpy" that is your weed line. Now that you've located the weed line you will find fish amongst the weeds.
July is looking to be another great month for fishing. The weeds are still shorter than normal making them easy to fish. The fish will be holding right in the weeds and on the edge of the weeds all month long. By mid-July the weeds should be getting much taller and you will need to fish just on the outside edge of the weeds. Either way fish near the weeds and the fish will be waiting! I can’t think of a better way for a kid to spend a summer vacation than fishing and being active in the outdoors.
For the most current fishing information click and listen to the audio report at the top of the page!
May 2013 Report:
It’s hard to believe that less than three weeks ago there was ice on the majority of the lakes in the Alexandria area. Luckily the night before walleye opener the wind blew strong throughout the night opening up many of the lakes. Anglers were pleased to see open water as the sun began to rise opening morning. Opener is generally a very productive time to fish walleye on Minnesota lakes state wide.
This opener on the other hand things were much different. Many of the walleye had yet to spawn so anglers had a very difficult time finding fish. In fact most of the typical early walleye spots were void of fish. The anglers that fished shallow (1-6 feet) near moving water were rewarded greatly. The moving water that connects many of the lakes in the area attract minnows getting ready to spawn, this in turn attracts all types of fish to prey on them. The walleye in these areas were very aggressive. Many of the best locations for all species were actually accessible from shore. Included in these shore spots were dozens of bay areas with excellent crappie action as well.
Being minnows are the primary forage for most walleye this time of year it’s only natural that minnow style baits catch the most fish. In the month following the spawn I almost exclusively stick with minnows or minnow imitations. My best lures so far have been an 1/8oz jig tipped with a minnow and a shiner imitation crank bait. Both of these lures are excellent shallow water baits. We caught close to 15 fish like the ones pictured in less than two hours, all fishing from shore.
I estimate the walleye cycle is about three weeks behind schedule. That means the normal great fishing we have on opener is just about in its prime! Many of the normal opener fishing locations are finally filled with aggressive walleye. There are numerous lakes kicking out great eating sized fish right now. Just tonight I had a buddy of mine hit a typical “good opener lake” that I was curious about. Well it took him just over an hour to pull a limit of perfect eating sized walleye 15”-17”. He was fishing in 12-16 feet of water with shiners. Over the next month we will experience some of the best fishing of the year, so grab the family and head on up for some great fishing!
April 2013 Report:
Well there are two questions I've been asked over and over the past month. The first is, "How much ice is on the lakes in the Alexandria area?” The other is, “Will the ice be off for Minnesota fishing opener?" Many of the lakes still have over 24" of ice. I’ve been on a number of lakes recently, and the main lake ice varied from slightly honeycombed to very solid. The lake edges in some places are open, but in many places it's locked up tight to shore. Most access areas are in poor shape, but there were still quite a few places to get on the lake. Most anglers were on foot, but there were four wheelers and snowmobiles out as well. With the cool temps coming later in the week I’d say ice fishing this upcoming weekend would certainly be a possibility on many of the lakes in the area.
This past Saturday's guide trip was a memorable one. We not only had very good ice fishing, we also had temps reaching nearly 80 degrees. It couldn’t have been a nicer day to be on the ice. We tried a number of lakes, catching fish on them all, but the last lake kicked out the most fish. We broke the 100 mark quite easily in a few hours. The fish were in 8-15 feet of water. Our best lure was a Lindy Toad in any color tipped with a wax worm or Euro Larva. It was one of the nicest days I’ve ever spent ice fishing: great weather, great company and great fishing. It doesn’t get any better!
As for the second question, "Will the ice be off for Minnesota fishing opener?" I think it's safe to say that in the Alexandria area the ice will NOT be completely off all of the lakes. In fact, I think many of the lakes will still have a decent amount of ice floating around. If you're planning a trip for fishing opener don't be discouraged though, there will be plenty of places to catch walleye. As anglers we will just need to adapt to the condition and modify our target locations and techniques.
I plan to fish extremely shallow near moving water. Wherever there is moving water there will be a few things I'm looking for. First, the ice will be gone. Second, there will be bait. Lastly, where there is bait there will be fish! I'll probably be fishing a lipped crank bait with a rattle, like a Lindy Shadling, or I'll fish a jig and a minnow. Either one of these presentations I believe will produce fish. Most of the spots I'm referring to will be accessible on foot as well as by boat. Being these locations are shallow I’d also recommend fishing in low light periods, so depending on the angler you may need to adjust your fishing hours accordingly.
No matter what happens, this will be a fishing opener like we’ve never had before, so don’t miss it! Mother Nature has thrown us all a curve ball, so let’s see what we can do with it. I'll post ice reports and pics as often as possible up to opener.
March 2013 Report:
Normally this time of year I’m fishing the last bit of ice, or fishing open water from shore somewhere. Well, that is certainly not the case this year. With cooler than average temps we have quality ice similar to late January, 30+inches of ice. With no real warm up in the 10 day forecast, I don’t see why we won’t be ice fishing well into April. I think most people are ready for open water and for spring weather to finally get here, but I say, “When life gives you ice, you might as well fish!”
The fishing has been fantastic and it should only get better as the ice begins to melt, eventually. Not much has changed pattern wise since my last report. I’ve still been able to locate the crappie relating to the deeper basin areas 18’-30’ foot of water (FOW), as well as mixed in with the blue gills in some of the shallower areas 16’-10’FOW. Locating the fish is the biggest part of fishing no matter what time of year, but especially this time of year because, if you can find the fish, chances are they will bite well.
I’m starting to see more and more people moving from hole to hole checking for fish with their locators, rather than just sitting in one spot amongst a group of anglers waiting for the fish to come to them. The fish this time of year are normally very active and at times they will only stay in your hole for a couple of minutes. Usually they’ll stay in the area but the fish might roam up to 300yd in a day. That’s why it’s so important to locate the fish. It’s very common for me to check 30 or more holes just to find my first fish. Then, once I’ve found fish, depending on the day, I’m either able to follow them from hole to hole catching fish along the way or they can simply vanish and I’ll start the hunt all over again.
This may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t that bad because in most cases there are many people like myself willing to drill 100’s of holes. With temps being right at freezing or slightly above, the holes do not freeze over very quickly. This allows you to fish 100’s of holes that you didn’t even have to drill. All you really need for equipment to catch fish right now are the following items:
• A chisel or auger, just in case previously drilled holes have slightly iced over.
• A fish locator, any model will work but I prefer to use a Hummingbird ICE 55.
• A light rod with good sensitivity, spooled with 2lb test line (3lb at the very heaviest).
• A #12 horizontal jig, my favorite is a #12 Lindy Toad tipped with a small euro larva or a partial wax worm.
• Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen...
Something many people don’t realize is the power of the sun reflecting off the ice can be very strong this time of year. It doesn’t take long to get a bad burn if you’re looking into the sun. The other day I had my four year old niece out fishing with me and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. She said, “It's like we're on the beach!”. This time of year the warmer temps feel so good there were actually people ice fishing in shorts! I have to believe only in Minnesota would you see this.
There should be quality ice for some time yet, so if you’ve always wanted to get your kids into ice fishing there’s arguably never been a better time. Good fishing and plenty of good weather to come, so get the family up to Alexandria for a great ice fishing experience!
For current ice conditions and fishing reports please listen to the audio reports by clicking the link at the top of the page.
February 2013 Report: Late Season Crappie Tactics
Whether you are a person that loves snow or one that could do without it, it’s hard to deny the beauty it brings to the area. Over the past month the Alexandria area has seen a few quality snow falls and, based on the forecast for next week, there’s more on the way. Even with deep snow across most of the area, there are plenty of anglers out catching fish. Most of the bigger lakes have nice plowed trails out to the fishing areas, making ice fishing possible for anyone willing to give it a try.
I’ve predominantly been fishing crappie and sunfish the last few weeks. For the most part these fish have been in mixed schools holding near the outer edges of the deeper basin areas. Look at a lake map and you’ll see these areas I’m talking about. I look for deep water (25’-40’) that tapers up to shallower water (10’-15’), where they like to feed in the spring. The fish have been roaming the edge of these breaks during the day in 16’-20’ feet of water in large schools. Once night falls these same fish break apart and cover these areas actively searching for food. Being the fish change their feeding habits from day to night, your fishing tactics will also need to change.
I personally like to fish during the day better than the evening hours, but they both have their pros and cons. During the day I generally have little competition and get to fish where I want. This allows me the ability to locate fish and catch fish more consistently. The down side is you have to search for your fish. You must drill a series of holes in these transition areas until you read fish on your locator. If you don’t read fish on your locator, keep looking. Sometimes I find fish after drilling only 10 holes or sometimes it takes 50 or more, but once I find fish there will generally be a large school of them. Ideally I like to see fish stacked up on the bottom a few feet thick. Once you find fish like this usually you’ll be able to stay on them throughout the day as they don’t seem to move very far. My favorite technique in this situation is to use a #12 Lindy Toad tipped with a couple Euro larva or a wax worm. I’ll drop my lure down just above the fish and make them chase it up slowly. By making them chase it up they will generally bite the jig more aggressively.
As the sun drops near the horizon, these same schools of fish will break apart to look for food. If you’re on a popular lake you’ll see by now that more and more people are coming out to fish the evening bite. Many people enjoy this type of fishing because it’s very social and you don’t have to search to find fish. You simply drill a couple holes in the area I mentioned above and set your lines a few feet off bottom. The fish will be roaming the area in search of food, so that’s why sitting in one spot can be very productive after dark. In this situation I like to use small #8 or #6 Frostee jig tipped with a small crappie minnow under a bobber. The downside to this technique is you’re at the mercy of the fish to come to you and sometimes you wait and wait and they never come. They might pass by your lure 20 feet away and you’d never know it. This is why one night can be really good and the next can be slow.
The two techniques I just described are both very effective ways to catch crappie, but based on the type of fisherman you are and the equipment you have one might suit you better than the other. For example, day time fishing requires someone with a desire to move and search for fish. You also need a locator and a sharp auger. Whereas when you’re evening fishing for crappie you can be more relaxed and sit in one spot. All you have to do is set up in the general area with a couple crappie minnows and wait for the fun to start. Either technique will produce fish, but one is more work and the other more of a gamble. Just decide which one fits you best and get out there!
Note: Walleye and Northern fishing recently closed to Minnesota anglers on Feb 24th and will reopen again on May 11th of this year. Many anglers hang up their ice fishing rods for the year after walleye season closes, but in reality the month of March holds some of the best fishing of the year. The perch, crappie and sunfish simply go on a feeding frenzy this time of year. Couple that with warmer, longer spring days and there’s no place I’d rather be than on the ice chasing aggressive “late ice” panfish. The Alexandria area lakes are usually safe to fish most of the month of March. If you ever have a question about the ice conditions feel free to listen to the latest audio report or contact me via email. Good luck fishing!
Mid-Winter Report: January, 2013
Ice fishing across west central Minnesota is in full swing. The ice quality is in absolute excellent shape, and the fishing has been outstanding as well. Due to the excellent ice conditions there are some lakes that are literally peppered with houses of all colors and sizes. With over 140 lakes in Douglas County to choose from, there are lakes with hundreds upon hundreds of houses as well as lakes with no houses at all. If you have the time and are willing to explore, there are dozens of great lakes you could have all to yourself. It almost feels like it’s your private lake when you make the first tracks onto an untouched snow covered lake.
Over the past few weeks the weather has been rough on us ice anglers. We’ve had just about every type of weather imaginable from sunny and calm to windy and cold. You just never know what to expect next. No matter the weather, the important thing to do is to get out there. You can’t catch anything sitting at home and there are always fish biting… always!
This past week I had a client come in from Virginia. He was visiting Minnesota and decided he wanted the true Minnesota fishing/winter experience no matter what the weather report said. The wind was forecasted to reach 50mph by noon that day, so I knew he was going to experience winter, I was just hoping we’d have some great fishing to go with his memories of the cold weather.
We hit the ice about 10:00am and started to drill a line of holes along the edge of a deeper basin in about 16feet of water. We didn’t have much time, but we quickly read some nice fish about a foot off bottom. With the storm approaching the barometer was falling fast, and that generally means the fish will be very active. We noticed right away that the fish were very responsive to our baits and it didn’t take long to ice a couple very nice crappies. We were using #12 Lindy Toad ice jigs tipped with Euro Larvae. The fish were moving from hole to hole quickly as if they were trying to eat as much as possible before the storm. We fished for about an hour and half before the wind started to pick up. We caught quite a few very nice crappies averaging 11”-12”. These are the perfect size for eating. If they were any bigger we would have let them go. The DNR doesn’t stock crappie, so it’s essential to our fisheries that you let go crappie over 12” so they can spawn.
It was almost noon and the wind was howling, it seemed like the weather went from a 10mph wind and sunny to 40mph gusts and snowing in about 10 minutes. It was definitely a change in weather my friend from Virginia wasn’t accustomed to seeing. The fish that were once actively swimming around eating anything that wiggled were now lethargic and difficult to coax into biting. We fished in the portable house for another couple hours listening to the wind howl. Even though the fishing was much slower, we continued to pick up a nice fish here and there. We ended up catching a nice pile of fish for supper and letting a bunch go to fight another day. It was truly a great day to experience Minnesota, and I was glad a poor forecast didn’t keep us from going. Like I said earlier, you can’t catch anything at home and there is always something biting in Alexandria!
Quick Update 1/2/2013
The ice is getting thicker by the day. We currently have 12”-16” of ice with 2”-4” of snow on top. The lakes are in perfect condition for large fish houses. If you have a big wheel house pull it up to Alexandria and explore. The fish are still biting quite well. I was fishing walleye the other night right before dark; I was only out for an hour but ended up with 4 nice sized walleye! I was in 24fow jigging a 1/8” gold Frostee spoon and a minnow. Good luck!
Well here is the report many ice anglers have been waiting for. The Alexandria area lakes are finally covered in quality ice and the fishing reports across the area are nothing but positive. Normally we have quality ice by late November, but this year with the warmer than normal temps it’s taken a little longer to form good ice.
Keep in mind that when venturing out onto the ice that you check the ice thickness frequently. Each lake creates ice at a different rate, so never assume all ice thicknesses are the same. Generally the shallower the lake the quicker it’ll freeze, so that’s why lakes like Mary and Reno see some of the first ice anglers of the year. In fact there were anglers all over these lakes well before there was any ice at all on some of the deeper lakes like Miltona and Ida. Once a lake finally freezes over completely it doesn’t take long to form “walkable” ice. Especially when we have the subzero temps like we’ve been having. In a 24hr period of below zero temps I’ve recorded lakes making up
Even though ice fishing is one of the safest outdoor sports anyone can do, I still like to recommend using caution. As long as you never assume the ice thickness you are on and check frequently you are in little to no danger. Please take a look at the picture below. It’s a simple table showing what ice thicknesses are recommend for each mode of transportation while traveling on the ice. Currently I’m finding around 6-8” of ice on most of the lakes in the area.
Now to the fishing report, I’ve been having decent luck on walleye in 10-25 feet of water. I like to choose areas that have a steep drop off to deep water. My favorite bait this year has been a 3/16oz Perch colored Frostee with a minnow head. Simply just bounce the lure on bottom and then hold it up an inch or two. The walleye absolutely can’t resist this presentation right as the sun is setting. This technique will work on any lake in the area.
The sunfish and crappie have also been biting well. I’ve heard of limits of nice fish coming from about a dozen different lakes across the area. It depends on the lake, but in general the sunfish are in about 15 feet of water in shallow weedy bays off of the main lakes. You can also find crappie in these areas, but the best reports have come from people fishing suspended crappie in deeper water. People are setting up in 25-30 feet of water and fishing down about 15-20 feet. An 1/8oz Frostee jigging spoon or Lindy Toad would be my lures of choice for panfish. Tip either one of these with a Euro larva or wax worm and you should be half way to your fish fry!
Merry Christmas everyone and good luck fishing! Feel free to shoot me an email with any specific questions you might have at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are nearing the end of another open water season, and what a season it's been! Regardless of the fish you were after this year, the fishing overall was simply remarkable. We started off the year with some great early season crappie. Then, from walleye opener to early July we experienced some of the best walleye fishing I've seen for this time of year. Once the hot weather hit in July we switched over to some great northern pike, bass and panfishaction. Finally, my favorite time of year, fall.Not only is it one of the most beautiful times to be on the water,it's also the start of the best smallmouth and walleye fishing of the year. September through November is arguably the best time of the year to consistently catch fish, not to mention more trophy caliber fish are caught during this time period than any other time of the year.
As you read in my last report, the smallmouth fishing this year was extremely good, and I expected the walleye fishing in October and November to be the same. Well I wasn't disappointed; we started off catching great numbers of eater sized walleye (14"-20") in the shallower lakes around the area. These lakes cool down the quickest so the fish get into their fall patterns first. Then, once we had a stretch of cold weather, usually mid-October, I started fishing some of the deeper lakes in the area.
There are many ways to fish walleye in the fall, but I primarily stick to just a couple of my favorite methods. The first is trolling crank baits after dark in shallow water. I look for rocky stretches of shoreline with patches of vegetation. I like to troll #5 and #7 Lindy Shadlings in 3-10 feet of water. I troll at about 2.5-.8mph depending on the water temps. The colder the water the slower I will troll.
The second method is jigging 1/4-5/8oz jig heads tipped with fatheads or shiners. It's critical when using this technique that you fish tight to the bottom (0-6" off bottom). I look for the deepest areas on the lake and fish the nearest point or steep break.These are the areas that hold the majority of the fish in the fall. I usually start on the side of the break and move shallower until I locate active fish. Once you locate fish you should be able to target that same depth for the rest of the day. In the last three weeks (late fall) we've had numerous trophy sized walleye (28"-30"), along with a pile of fish in the mid to upper 20's as well.
The extended forecast is showing some very cold weather coming. As good as this year’s open water fishing has been, all good things must come to an end. On the bright side, it won't be long and we'll be able to walk on water!
In the month of September there is plenty of good fishing to be had, but there’s no place I’d rather be than fishing smallmouth bass. September is the month when these fish feed like no other time of the year. They will eat all day, every day, whether they are hungry or not. They have no choice, that’s the way they’re programmed. As the days get shorter, and the water temps drop into the 50’s, these fish know it’s time to get ready for winter.
This year with water levels nearly two to three feet low, many of my favorite shallow rock spots were unfishable. When Mother Nature throws you a curve like this, keep in mind all you have to do is locate the bait, and the fish won’t be far behind. I like to scan structure like rocks, brush and shoreline breaks with my sonar looking for bait or fish.
Once you locate a spot with fish activity it’s as simple as picking a few of your favorite techniques and seeing which one they prefer that particular day. There were many lures this year that caught fish. One day they’d love top water lures like a Chug’n Spook, and the next it had to be a subsurface lure like an XCalibur Rattle Bait bounced off the rocks. Really any large minnow or minnow style bait produced fish at some point all month long.
The smallmouth not only came in large numbers, but the size was once again outstanding. On most day trips we’d have 50+ fish with some near or at trophy caliber. As we do every year, there were also a couple days where the fishing was so good that trophy fish were frequent! No matter what size smallmouth you catch one thing is for certain: they will always be pound for pound the best fighting fish in Minnesota waters.
My smallmouth season is winding down and as fun as the last month was it’s time to catch some walleye. Walleye is Minnesota’s state fish. It’s prized for its flaky white meat and great taste. One of the best times to catch walleye is mid October to early November, so look for the next report to be full of smiles and walleye pictures!
Monday, September 10th, 2012
In the last month fishing has been quite productive for most species in the Alexandria area. Bass, northern, crappie and bluegill have all bit well, but walleye on the other hand have been more hit and miss. Don’t get me wrong, there were certainly stretches where the walleye bit very well, but overall the bite was inconsistent. One day the fishing was hot, and the next the best of fisherman could be humbled. Not only were the walleye biting inconsistently, but what they preferred to eat was also changing frequently. I had times where they wanted leeches, night crawlers and minnows at different times throughout the same day. It was rare for a particular presentation and bait type to produce for more than a few days at a time.
These inconsistencies are typical for this time of year, especially while fishing walleye. Warm water temps and the fact that the fish are slowly transitioning into their fall patterns are both to blame. That’s why the fall-like temperatures moving in are more than welcome. This cool air will cause the water temps to plummet, and as usual, the fish will officially move into their fall patterns.
Depending on your favorite species, “fall pattern” could mean different things. In general, fish will show a preference for minnows and a lot of them! They will feel the need to eat, and eat often, so they can put on weight to get through the difficult winter ahead.
My favorite fish to target in the fall are smallmouth and walleye. Both of these fish feed extremely heavy in the fall, trading in their slender summer bodies for something resembling a football. (How appropriate as we head into football season!) Over the next two months, as these fish prepare for winter, we will have the luxury to catch either of these species at will. Smallmouth fishing generally peaks in the last two weeks of September, followed by the peak walleye bite in mid October. Casting or jigging a minnow or minnow style bait is about all you have to do this time of year to catch fish.
Keep in mind when planning your fall trip to Alexandria that we have much more than great fishing. We also have dozens of hiking and biking trails winding across the lakes area where you can enjoy the beautiful fall colors. Not to mention many of the lodging facilities offer fall rates. If you’re looking for a great getaway that has something for everyone, look no further than Alexandria!
Monday, August 20th, 2012
Being walleye are my favorite fish I tend to talk about them as if they’re the only fish out there, but in reality walleye fishing during the day this time of year can be quite challenging. For the angler that just likes to fish or catch enough for a meal, there are fish that are much more cooperative. In this report I’m going to go into detail on a couple of my favorite techniques that can put fish in your boat every time you hit the water!
In mid to late summer when the walleye fishing slows I have no problem switching over to something that’s willing to bite during the day and tastes great too. I’m talking about northern and bass. These fish come in all sizes,but one thing is certain; they are all fun to catch. The average size northern and bass for the area is about 1 to 3lbs and, lucky for us, they’re the best eating. Of course, northern and bass in the Alexandria area get much bigger than 1 to 3lbs, but these bigger fish are best photographed and released to hopefully become a trophy someday.
The first technique I’ll describe is trolling crank baits. This is an easy technique that anyone can do. My go to lure is a #7 Perch colored Shadling. All you have to do is tie the lure directly on your line. I prefer to use 10-12lb braided line and troll at about 1.5 to 3.0 mph in 5-15 feet of water. These lures will dive down when you troll, so by varying your speed and the amount of line you put out, you can vary the depth that the lure will dive.(Helpful Note: These lures make a vibration when they’re pulled through the water from the lure shaking back and forth. If the lure stops shaking, it probably means you have a weed on your lure. Quickly remove the weed and you’re ready to keep fishing.)
The second technique is using live bait. When I’m fishing with live bait for bass and northern I like to use a heavy Lindy rig style setup. This is a rig you can make on your own. First, I slide a 1/2oz slip weight onto my line, then I tie on a swivel. Next, I cut a 3 foot piece of 12lb clear monofilament line or thin stainless fishing line called Tyger Wire. Tie one end to the swivel and the other to a 2/0 hook.This completes the rig, all you have to do now is hook on a lively 4” to 6” suckerminnowin the mouth. There are two places you should fish this setup:one foot above the top of the weeds or just on the outside edge of the weeds a foot off the bottom. You will want to troll this rig much slower than the crankbaits, I prefer about .50 to 1.0mph in about 10-25 feet of water. (Helpful Note: The hardest part about this technique is telling the difference between a bite and a weed. Keep in mind a weed will be a steady pull and a bite will be a series of taps and sharp pulls.)
These two techniques are very effective and easy to use. You don’t have to be the best fisherman or have a fancy boat to catch some great fish in Alexandria. With school starting soon and summer winding down, there has never been a better time than now to get the family out on the water.
Thursday, July 12th, 2012
The fishing is still very good in the Alexandria area and, as of last week,it was some of the best fishing I have ever experienced. Although it does appear the heat has started to affect the walleye pattern. The fish were still holding in 12-16 feet of water amongst the cabbage weeds and aggressive all day long. Now with the surface water temps reaching the mid 80’s the fish have moved deeper and are most active in the morning and evening hours. We are officially in the dog days of summer and this is a very normal thing for them to do.
Prior to July 1st the walleye were extremely aggressive. They would bite and bite often. I had a client fighting a fish that broke his line. Then only a few minutes later another client in the boat set the hook and it was a nice walleye. As I was removing the hook I noticed it had two of the exact same Lindy jigs in his mouth. The one jig that reeled him in and the other that had broken off, talk about aggressive!
It sure is a blast when you can fish walleye and catch them as frequent and often as small sunfish. For the past couple weeks we’ve had good action on bobbers, Lindy rigs, Lindy Spinners and Lindy Shadlings. The bite has literally been so good that young kids have forgotten they brought snacks along! As you know that is no easy task, so as a guide that made me feel pretty good.
Then,last Monday I noticed the surface tempsin the mid 80’s. The walleye were still biting, they just slid into deeper water, 18’ to 22’FOW and were a bit less aggressive. We could see walleye on the Lowrance most of the evening, but they we