We’re into mid-December, and the pieces are falling into place. We have safe walking ice conditions in several places and are even seeing some four-wheelers and snow machines access lakes — but as always, caution should be taken.
We are not ready for vehicle traffic yet, so please do not try to be the first to drive on a lake. It never fails to amaze me, the number of stories of first-ice vehicles breaking through. This year is no different, with several incidents reported in recent weeks.
Area lakes are frozen with anywhere from 5 to 12 inches of ice. Deeper lakes that hold a large volume of water are lagging behind but are getting there. The St. Louis River still needs more time as the ice is dangerous in many locations. Small- to mid-size inland lakes are most suitable for safe ice fishing. Anglers should not look past small lakes for fishing success. These can be the most productive fishing lakes. Whether it’s chasing tip-ups for pike, bass or the occasional walleye, or jigging for some panfish, small lakes can provide lots of action.
Some anglers are starting to venture out onto the Duluth Harbor. As of this report deadline, we have found ice conditions varying anywhere from 1½ to 4 inches. There are also lots of fresh cracks showing up that need a little time to heal. Shoreline ice on the river can be unstable. It is important to practice safe habits and use extreme caution when ice-fishing the St. Louis River estuary. Just because you witness somebody walking on areas that look “sketchy” does not mean you should. For those who fish the river system, it is important to have the proper safety equipment and always check and re-check the ice!
Lake Superior continues to be on the silent side for fishing talk. No ice reports.
Inland lake fishing is taking off right on cue. Fishing near vegetation has been good. Anglers are getting a nice mix of panfish and the occasional predator fish. Small, 1/32-ounce jigs tipped with a couple spikes or a wax worm have been good. A nice set-up is a deadstick hole with a crappie minnow under a float 3/4 down toward the bottom and a jig stick hole next to it. Crappies seem to be a near-dark bite, but are here and there throughout the day. Tip-ups are seeing lots of action near shorelines in shallower water. Pike and bass are active in the daytime hours, and walleyes are showing up in the late afternoon and past dark.