First ice fishing reports of the season

Ice fishing is under way in a few locations across the region.

Tyler Brasel of Bear Paw Guides in Waskish, Minn., texted this photo of the four-walleye limit he landed Friday afternoon on Upper Red Lake.

For now, at least, the big story is on Upper Red Lake, where anglers are beginning to venture out in areas where they’re finding 5 inches to 6 inches of ice.

Rogers’ on Red, located on the south shore, and Tyler Brasel of Bear Paw Guides, who has tested the ice straight out from West Wind Resort on the east shore near Waskish, Minn., both have reported ice in the 5- to 6-inch range.

Tyler sent me a photo Saturday morning of four nice walleyes he pulled through the ice Friday night. In a post on Bear Paw’s Facebook page, Brasel said he measured 6 inches of ice Sunday night.

“We are making good ice,” he said in the post, adding this caveat: “Certain areas of the lake will have different ice. Call the resort that you will be going out of before you come up.”

Anglers venturing to Upper Red also should be aware of winter fishing regulations that take effect Dec. 1. Under those changes, all walleyes from 17 inches to 26 inches must be released, with one fish longer than 26 inches allowed, and the limit is three. Until then, the limit is four, and all walleyes from 20 inches to 26 inches must be released. There’s also a 26- to 44-inch protected slot for northern pike, and the limit is three, with one fish longer than 44 inches allowed.

Caution should always be the policy when venturing onto the ice, but that’s especially true this time of year. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers these guidelines for “new, clear ice”:

2 inches of less – Stay off.

4 inches – Ice fishing or other activities on foot.

5 inches – Snowmobile or ATV.

8 to 12 inches – Car or small pickup.

12 to 15 inches – Medium truck.

The forecast should be conducive to adding even more ice to area lakes, with lows in the single digits predicted over the next few days. That will send ice fishing into full swing by this weekend, though larger, deeper bodies of water likely won’t be safe for at least a couple more weeks.

Ice fishing by Thanksgiving historically is considered early, and there’ve been a number of times in the past decade where that benchmark has been elusive.

This year won’t be one of them.

Ice gains traction on area lakes

Ready or not, here it comes.

The cold weather of the past few days has resulted in ice forming on several lakes across the region. It’s even beginning to show on larger bodies of water such as Lake of the Woods and parts of Devils Lake.

Ice is beginning to form on Lake of the Woods, and Upper Red Lake at the bottom of the satellite photo appeared to be almost fully ice-covered today.

I took a look at the MODIS Today satellite imagery from earlier today, and as the attached satellite photo shows, ice is forming along parts of the South Shore near Rocky Point, Buffalo Bay in Manitoba and parts of the Northwest Angle. Whitemouth Lake in Manitoba, a shallower body of water west and slightly north of Buffalo Bay, looks to have a solid coating of ice.

So does Upper Red Lake, where it won’t be long before the first hardy travelers begin venturing onto the ice. Here’s hoping it holds.

To the west, the satellite imagery of Devils Lake shows

The Devils Lake Basin as of this afternoon.

Main Bay, Six-Mile Bay and Creel Bay are still mostly open, but Pelican Lake doesn’t appear to have much open water, and smaller lakes upstream in the basin appear to be ice-covered.

If these temperatures persist — and right now, there’s no real relief in sight — it won’t be long before the bigger bodies of water are completely frozen, as well.

By all indications, this year’s ice fishing season will be off to an early start. Again.

To keep track of the daily satellite images, click here.


Area anglers do well in Devils Lake pro walleye tourney

A few tidbits on this Monday morning as I gear up to spend the better part of the next two weeks in the woods of northern Minnesota:

Chad Maloy (left) and Don Denning of Fargo show off their tournament high bag of five walleyes weighing 36 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday on Devils Lake. The pair finished second in the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit tournament that ended Saturday.

Area teams had a strong showing in the three-day Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit tournament that wrapped up Saturday on Devils Lake. Wisconsin pros Korey Sprengel and Derek Navis won the tournament with a three-day bag of 85 pounds, 13 ounces, edging the Fargo team of Don Denning and Chad Maloy, who weighed in the biggest bag of the tournament Saturday with five walleyes that tipped the scales at a whopping 36 pounds, 12 ounces — more than a 7-pound average.

The tournament was headquartered at Grahams Island State Park.

Maloy said they caught their fish vertical jigging with Jigging Raps and Northland Puppet Minnows in a rock-mud transition area in 33 to 34 feet of water. Saturday, Maloy said he and Denning caught their fish early and were off the water about 10 a.m., dodging the brunt of the wind that grew stronger throughout the day.

Rounding out the area anglers in the 38-team tournament were Spencer Deutz, Moorhead and Ron Deutz, Fargo, who placed fourth  with 71 pounds, 11 ounces; Troy Morris, Fargo, and Kevin Bruer, Robbinsdale, Minn., sixth, 64 pounds, 14 ounces; and Al Freidig and Clint Devier, both of Devils Lake, 11th, 59 pounds, 4 ounces. Freidig and Devier also had big fish of the tournament with a walleye weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces.

All are members of the F-M Walleyes fishing club.

Hunting success during the 33rd annual Ruffed Grouse Society National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt was on par with last year, despite a large increase in spring drumming counts. Hunters participating in the Oct. 9-10 event near Grand Rapids, Minn., shot an average of 1.07 grouse per day, up only slightly from 1.06 last year. The woodcock harvest was down, with an average of 1.8 this year, compared with 2.03 last year.

The Forks Rifle Club is holding its annual sighting-in days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 25-26 at the club’s W.G. Coulter Range, located 8½ miles west of Merrifield, N.D., on Grand Forks County Road 6. According to club member Tom Reiten, club personnel will be on hand to help hunters sight in their firearms for the upcoming deer season. North Dakota’s deer gun season opens at noon Nov. 7, and Minnesota’s firearms deer season opens a half-hour before sunrise Nov. 8.