I am writing this just hours before I head out to get my hip surgery. I have to admit, I am getting a little anxious. I am really glad I got my “last hurrah” in ice fishing this last week up at Lake of the Woods.

They iced over after we did, but have less snow cover and are building ice faster. On our trip, we started with about 15 inches of good clear ice and had about 18 inches after our third day. I am sure they are allowing truck traffic now this weekend after the significant cold front last Thursday through Sunday up there.

We headed out from Wheelers Point on the Adrian’s Resort ice road. The road cuts across Four Mile Bay and over the top of Pine Island. Resorts and bait shops in the area are helpful in passing information along about fish locations and what is working to trigger bites.

We set up about a mile out from Pine Island on the main lake in the soft bottom, slow tapering basin in about 22 feet of water on Thursday. The fish were cooperative from the time we started until we wrapped up in the late afternoon. Very few lulls in the action. Most fish were in the 12- to 15-inch size range with a few 16-inchers and two about 19-inchers. Jigging vertical spoons and dead rods with jigs and rainbows under bobbers was also producing.

The ice on the south shore is not as rough as it has been the last few years, but there are many ice heaves starting about a half mile out and they are random directions.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

I feel it is important to get away from noise trails and roads. The ice road is clearly marked with delineators. You need to pick your path to travel smoothly and safely east or west of the ice road. Using GPS and leaving a plotter trail is extremely helpful when conditions are like this.

With a cold front hitting us the last night, we found the fish had moved out deeper into the 24- to 25-foot water. A report I received from a friend just a couple of days ago verified the long cold front moved them even deeper and the bite is in the 28- to30-foot water now.

The pre-frontal bite we had on Thursday was awesome for numbers (about a hundred fish in six hours for the four of us!), but still not great for size. Great for eating-size fish in the 14- to 16-inch range, but our group got no big walleyes. More saugers were biting than walleyes, but an ok mix of walleyes.

We still have good ice thickness in our area compared to the rest of the state, but ice is building more slowly, even with the cold temps, due to the significant amount of snow cover on area lakes.

Reports of crappie and gill action remain good and some walleyes are getting iced (including some quality size). Morning or late afternoon and evening continue to be best.

Some lakes will continue to have slushing and flooding issues. It didn’t help that we got hit with a few more inches of snow again last weekend. Check with bait shops and resorts on the lakes you are planning to head out on to get up-to-date ice report conditions. I will rely on some others to pass ice and fishing information along to you the rest of this winter as I heal from my hip surgery.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)