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Plenty of Ice Left in the Brainerd Lakes Area

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I am normally home for weekends but this past weekend was a little different.  I had the privilege to film an episode for Jason Mitchell Outdoors at Wekusko Falls Lodge in northern Manitoba targeting giant lake trout.  Fish up to 40+ inches seen day light and it is going to be an awesome episode to say the least!   I did get the chance to rip a few lips myself catching several walleyes and a really nice pike.

When I got home, I noticed the ice conditions changed but not the way it should be this time of the year.  The conditions actually improved!  The accesses are locked back up, the slush is nearly gone and the snow is now to a manageable level that allows for easy vehicle travel.

As for the fishing, it has stayed pretty much the same as when I left.  The panfish have moved into their staging areas before their migration to their late season locations They are not suspended up in the water column like you would think you would see this time of the year.  We haven’t had enough runoff to produce the oxygen needed for that to happen.

I joined my close friends, the Clark family for a few hours today and the fishing was nothing short of wonderful.  Bluegills and crappies were hitting the ice fairly fast.  We had crappies in the 9-11 inch range with a few larger and gills in the 7-10+ inch range including a monster hybrid that weighed in at 1 pound 2 ounces.  Lures really didn’t matter as long as they are on the small side which is a change compared to what should be happening.  Crappies wanted to hit horizontal presentations of plastic and small jigging spoons.  The gills seemed to prefer a more vertical presentation and your odds increased with the use of waxies.

On Friday, we headed out on the water in search of some bluegills, crappies and perch and we found great fishing for all species.  On the first lake, the bluegills and crappies had moved out of their winter basin onto a weed flat just off the edge of the hole.  The fish were staging near the bottom in 8 feet.  The bluegills were hitting very light and required a smaller lure like a 1/32 oz Clam Drop Kick jig which is a  tungsten jig tipped with a waxie.  The crappies seemed to like a glow green demon jig also tipped with a waxie.  Some of the crappies were taking small 1/32 oz jigging spoons in pink and white.

It was pretty obvious the crappies haven’t fully moved in yet.  For every 15 bluegills we caught, we got a crappie.  Some true big slabs were amongst the fish however with the big being around the pound and 3/4 mark.

We decided to go for some perch after the gills and crappies went into a mid day lull and the action was fast and furious.   Bigger spoons like the 1/4 oz. Clam Leech Flutter Spoon tipped with waxies.  A very aggressive jigging approach 2-4 feet off the bottom got the jumbos to streak up to the lure.  The beauty of using a larger spoon, we didn’t have to deal with all the small perch that were around.  A minnow head or any jig tipped with a crappie minnow.  Believe it or not, the best minnows for the day were sticklebacks.  The beauty of a stickleback is they stay hooked and they stay alive longer than a standard crappie minnow. The best location was 8 to 9 feet of water just off the deep basin.  If you can find a point,an inside turn or a hump on top of the first breadline, you found perch.

With the forecast, I don’t see these conditions changing very rapidly.  We most definitely do not need the predicted snow.  At this stage, every time it snows, we gain an extra day or 2 of ice and right now we are teetering on the edge of not being able to be in a boat on the larger lakes for opener.

We are taking bookings now so feel free to give us a call.  We are beginning to book up but have dates available for both week days and weekends.

Nate Berg
Nate Berg Fishing Guides

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