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Want walleye? Start with perch-colored lures

Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs

This last week has been good for the ice development in our area. The consistent cold with some very cold nights helps build back some of the ice that was lost, or was slow to develop with our goofy weather for the few previous weeks.

The minimal snow cover also helps with building a good ice base. Most area lakes range from 9 to 14 inches and are building ice every day. The thickest ice is on the shallow basin lakes. Many anglers have still been walking out this last week, but we will see more ATV-UTV-sled activity in the next week with the better ice conditions. We are still a week or more away from vehicle traffic to community ice fishing spots. It is extremely important to stay away from current areas as they have inconsistent and thin ice.

It doesn't seem like we have had as much ice angling in the area the last few weeks, due mostly to the weather and ice conditions. Look for activity to pick up significantly starting this week in our area.

Red Lake has been very busy for a couple weeks now and vehicle traffic has started on that body of water. They have been colder longer with very cold nights to develop that big, shallow body of water. The day bite there is good with the strong year class of walleyes ranging from 16 to 18 inches.

I was up at Lake of the Woods this last weekend and the resorts have just started letting wheelers and sleds out on their roads as of last weekend. Significant cold there will have that ice ready for wheel houses and trucks. Stay to the resort roads and trails. Extremely rough ice is piled up on the south shore due to the high winds piling up ice several times before the massive lake finally got ice locked.

The walleyes and saugers out of the gap and the south shore have moved to the 22 to 24 foot water and will keep moving out as the ice thickens and we transition away from the "early ice bite."

Many small sauger in the 11-14 inch range are very active and keeping anglers busy. Walleyes range from 11 to 25 inches in that basin area now, with the strong year class of 15-17 inches biting well.

Locally, look for many of the gamefish to start moving from the weeds to the outside weed edges, and to deeper water as we too, are no longer in the "early ice" phase. While the golds, pinks, reds, and glow lure colors work well for the stained waters of Red Lake and even more stained water of LOW, locally, the chartreuse, white, glow green, and multi-color contrast jigs/jigging spoons/action baits have been more productive.

Perch colors are always a good starting point with walleyes, northern seem to like everything, and the pan fish will start keying in on the bug bite, making some of the more natural colors and the reds and pinks produce.

Fishing is always a puzzle-solving problem that consists of figuring out location, presentation, and timing. Good luck, as we are now, really, finally, officially, into the 2017-18 ice fishing season.

Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes

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