Ice Fishing Has Begun For Some

river bend resort dragging a trail 121423Ice fishing has begun on most areas of Lake of the Woods.  Resorts and outfitters have been working feverishly checking ice conditions, chopping down ice, dragging the trails and other important ice maintenance in the areas they go out.

Many resorts and outfitters have pulled out fish houses and are fishing.  Others who have not started fishing yet are hoping to check the ice in a matter of days and make an assessment for the area they are fishing.  This is a wonderful tradition so many look forward to and is happening right now on Lake of the Woods.

Lake of the Woods is a big lake.  Ice conditions can vary from area to area so it is important to work through a resort or outfitter.  They keep a good eye on ice conditions on their ice road or trail which will help you understand where things are at.border view lodge fish houses staged 121523

It is also important to consider a few things that can improve your odds of a good trip…

Adhere to weight limits on the ice road you are using.  When you are headed out ice fishing and a resort says snowmobiles, ATV’s and side by sides, it doesn’t mean a small SUV is appropriate.  Not only can you endanger yourself, it can mess up the ice road for others which can slow the progression of a good ice road for everyone.

Keep speeds less than 15 mph.  When you travel on ice, there is a wave that forms in front of your vehicle under the ice.  This wave, at all times of the year, but especially during early ice, can really mess up the ice if you are traveling too fast.  In addition to simple safety and the risk of accidents on top of the ice, the wave created underneath the ice is a good reason to slow down as well.Ice road slow sign, Zippel Bay Resort, Lake of the Woods

Stay on the marked trails.  When someone gets into troubled ice, it is usually when they have ventured out on their own.  Resorts and outfitters start marking trails early in the year, understanding where there are springs, cracks, ice upheavals along with important knowledge of where the ice formed evenly and is more thick.

Don’t Stay Out Late.  On Lake of the Woods with it’s stained waters, the best ice fishing is during the day.  If you able to come off of the lake at a reasonable hour when others are also traveling off of the lake sure helps if you get into any kind of trouble.  We all want to get that last part of the golden hour (sunset) in, but be smart when considering traveling across the ice when nobody else is around.

Have a charged up cell phone with you.  When you are out ice fishing, if you get stuck, your vehicle doesn’t start, etc, it is good to have a cell phone with you to call for help.  Make sure it is charged up ahead of time.  Many anglers will carry a remote battery to charge up their phone while on the ice.

Keep It Clean, Lake of the WoodsKeep It Clean. Have you heard of the new law this year?  No garbage or waste is allowed on the ice or under the ice.  It must be kept in your fish house, vehicle or in a container.  Ice is no place for your garbage and waste.

It is up to all of us to do our part.  Planning ahead and putting in the extra effort makes all the difference in the world.  With literally millions of angling hours on lakes across the ice belt, it is important that we all do our part to keep trash and waste off of the ice and out of our fisheries.

Ice fishing has begun on Lake of the Woods.  The fishing reports so far have been good and people are excited to get out.  The resorts are doing a nice job of staying on fish.  This time of year, it seems the walleyes start out a bit shallow and as traffic on the ice increases, they slowly make their way to deeper water.

Ice fishing is never a perfect science, but understanding fish patterns, how long to stay in a spot, when to move, etc is all part of the game.

keep it clean stop sign luresAs far as lures and techniques, the best strategy for ice fishing LOW is the old one-two punch.  As you can have two lines during the Minnesota ice season, anglers will use one jigging line and one deadstick line.

A jigging line is exactly that, a line you jig, such as the new Keep It Clean  jigging spoon with a minnow head or maybe a noisy lure like a Rapala Rippin Rap.

A deadstick is normally a live minnow on a jig or hook under a bobber about 6 inches off of the bottom.  When the fish are active, they will hit the line you are jigging.  When they are in a more neutral mood, the line with a live minnow may get more attention.Tom's Tackle, jig-o-bit for ice fishing

As far as colors, this is stained water, consequently, gold, glow red, glow, orange and chartreuse are all good starts.

When you come up, work through a resort, exercise safety first and bring a good camera!

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