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Brad Laabs: Still good fishing to be had on the Minnesota ice

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Spring has officially arrived, but we still have plenty of ice on the area lakes.

It looks like we will continue to have ice available for ice anglers for at least the next two or three weeks (or four or five!).

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The season is closed for walleye, northern, and bass in our area, but avid ice anglers that enjoy chasing pan fish will enjoy the next several weeks.

Pan fish action in the shallow water will continue to improve with the improving weather. This is the time of year that standing or sitting on buckets on the ice can be very pleasant.

The sun and scattering of warm days knocks the snow on the ice down and travel will not be much of a problem, plus the fact that with many bodies of water, a short walk from the shoreline can get you were you need to be for some pan fish action.

When we have all been so used to the below zero weather, days in the 40’s feel balmy. 

This is also the time of year in our area that some anglers enjoy chasing tullibees. The reports indicate this bite has started and is improving.

Most of the ice anglers that have continued to be active pursuing fish have already renewed their fishing licenses, as your 2013 license was no longer valid after February 28th.

Now is a good time to get your 2014 fishing license and it will be good for you until the end of next February 2015.

Even if you don’t plan on fishing now until we get open water in our area, now is a good time to take care of getting yourself legal.

Once the ice comes off, we start getting visitors to our area that pick up licenses when they get here.

It can be crowded and slow to get your license later when everyone else is getting theirs.   

For many in the area that don’t chase pan fish locally, but still want to ice fish walleyes, trips to Devils Lake in North Dakota (season never closes), or a trip to Lake of the Woods up until April 14th may be the plan for you.

The more popular trip from our area this time of year is the chase for the big northern pike of Lake of the Woods.

The fish are moving to the shallower waters of the bays off the lake by Warroad. This is the start of trophy time with fish 12-20 pounds (or over) are common for those that make the trip.

I just returned from a quick run up to LOW and fished about 6 hours.

I missed the morning bite, but was still able to catch 25 walleyes/saugers with most being on the small size.

A limit of eaters 15-19” did come home for some dinner invitations.

The walleye bite the last week or two on LOW has been inconsistent, which is not uncommon for this time of the year. The bite will improve over the next several weeks as the fish will stage outside of 4-mile bay in preparation for their spawning run into the Rainy River.

Lake roads are being maintained by the resorts and this will continue as long as the ice and weather will allow up to April 14th.

Extensions on augers are needed due to current ice thicknesses.

The weather stays cooler there than we do here so I think you have several weeks to get yourself up to LOW for that bite.

I think I am done with the ice, my boat is ready to get on the water.

My boat’s owner just needs to make some decisions and finalize some plans.

A trip or two to some open water now is a must.

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