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Jumbo perch are popping up

Fishing Columnist Brad Laabs

The additional snow of the last week will make traveling off trails or plowed roads on the area lakes with vehicles and wheelers a risk for getting stuck.

The strong winds that followed the snow have made for some unpredictable drifting and hard packed snow. We are due to get some above freezing temps this next week and that will help knock some of the snow down.

When it comes to removing fish houses north of highways 10 and 34 that are due to be off by March 19, that will help. The cold mornings are always better for travel and house removals. Snowmobile travel on the lakes is ideal for getting anywhere you want to go with this snow cover now.

I have not been able to get out on the ice for the last 10 days or so due to traveling to Rochester to address issues associated with my 92-year-old mother having a fall. In that time I have continued to get phone reports and text messages (and pictures!) of others successful crappie, sunfish, and tullibee outings.

Some anglers have also gotten into some bonus jumbo perch in the mix of catching smaller perch in the shallow weeds, holding tight to the bottom weeds. If you are looking to travel for jumbo perch, Devils Lake is churning them out, and reports of solid catches are coming off Winni, and that is a shorter travel, especially for a day trip.

Lake of the Woods continues to have an active walleye and sauger bite, and that season will be open until April 14. When the Rainy River opens up you can also fish for walleyes and sauger until April 14.

The lake limit remains the same, but the river limit is set at two walleyes under 19.5 inches. The big chase at LOW now will be the northern pike bite in the shallow water bays on the big lake. The bite has already started and will continue to improve until the ice gets to sketchy to get on. You can probably figure 4-5 weeks left of your chance to get in on that action.

Mother nature, of course, is always in charge and can increase or decrease the time available for that bite. The area out of Warroad is the most desirable. Local bait shops and resorts will help steer you to productive areas. Tip-up fishing is the most popular for the pursuing these monster fish. The bite up there is probably your best chance to land a 40 inch or bigger pike.

With the current snow cover, ice thickness, and long range forecast, it is looking like we are probably back to a more typical ice out date for our area this year. Things can change in a hurry, but I have resigned myself to the fact we will not be as early as we have been three of the last four years.

I always seem to hit the "winter wall" by early March. I start to get impatient for spring and open water. I am ready for the ice season to be done now, particularly as I have to travel back to Rochester again and won't be getting on the ice again from the looks of my schedule the next couple weeks. Feel free to text me your fish pics ... yes, I get jealous, but I am still happy for those that get out now and have some success.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)

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