Ice-fishing in Sunset Country

After a month of travelling the southern U.S. to fish for bass out of a boat, it was nice to spend the last week at home and get some ice-fishing in.
While we’re still not in that late-season timeframe when the days are long and the fish seem to bite as well as they do all winter, the weather over the past week has been pretty decent so it was good to be out there.
While I wish the fishing report was a little better, the fishing was not as good as I expected the few times I got out over the past week. My feeling was that the weather made things a little bit tough.
When we had that big melt early last week, there was a lot of water on the ice. Then when things cooled back off, the ice was cracking like crazy as it was tightening back up. Without any snow on the ice for insulation, it was re-forming at a quick rate and it was loud.
One of the days that I went walleye fishing, the ice was banging a couple times per minute, so I felt like it probably spooked the fish to some degree.
Mid-winter typically is the slowest time of the season to ice-fish for most species. Later in March, the movements of some species get more predictable as pike and walleye move towards the areas where they’ll spawn shortly after the ice goes out and many times the bite is really good.
The few times I fished over the past week, I was chasing walleyes on Lake of the Woods. While we caught some fish, it was not nearly as good as my expectations were.
The fact that I haven’t been ice-fishing as much this winter probably factored into everything, as well. When you go all the time, you know where the hot little areas are that kick out fish all winter long–and you also have a good idea of the depth you should be fishing and the lures you should be using.
I just haven’t been on the ice that much this season.
I had some friends fishing for lake trout on Whitefish Bay over the past week and the report from there was not great, either. No idea why but it could have been all the ice cracking over the past week that had the baitfish and trout spooked, as well.
But the reports I got from a few of my friends who were crappie fishing over the past weekend actually were really good. Anglers fishing down around the Northwest Angle area on Lake of the Woods were treated to some big slab crappies.
This area has gained a lot of popularity amongst American anglers in recent years. Basically, from Portage Bay south to the Northwest Angle, there are a bunch of good crappie holes but you need a snowmobile to access most of these spots.
Crappies like to spend the winter in deep holes of the bays and areas where they live, so locations are fairly easy to find by studying a map.
The LakeMaster mapping card for Lake of the Woods makes finding a lot of these spots really easy because it has high definition mapping of the south half of the lake and it shows everything on it.
Ice conditions seem to be pretty good after the latest little cold snap that we’ve had, so ice-fishing should be good to go for a few more weeks at least. Just be careful out there because conditions can change quickly at this time of year.
I’m back on the road to Florida this week to get ready for my next FLW Tour event down in Florida.
Look for my bass fishing report from the Harris Chain of Lakes in next week’s column.