Brainerd Lakes Area Fishing Report Jan. 16, 2014
Whitefish – Whitefish Chain of Lakes Region
Ice conditions really improved on area lakes as a result of recent extreme cold temperatures penetrating the snowcover and building more ice. Still, some areas do remain unstable, and anglers must check ice depth often when venturing out. As of late last week, ice thickness ranged from 8-24 inches. Walleyes were being pulled from 24-36 feet of water on suckers, especially early and late in the day. Evening fishing had improved since the fish were schooling. Lots of crappie and panfish action was being reported in 8-12 foot depths.
Brainerd Lakes Area
Walleyes have been difficult to predict, with a flurry of activity around sunset on one day, and then very little action the next. Don’t be afraid to move deeper this time of year, using set lines and jigging spoons. Crappies and sunnies have been hanging in 16-40 feet of water. The best way to locate schools of fish is to find the last remaining green vegetation; the deeper holes surrounded by weeds have been the most productive. A vexilar has been the key to success since panfish suspend themselves at a variety of depths throughout the day.
On the north end of Lake Mille Lacs, roads are plowed out to the south end of Bombeck Flat and to the mud area. At Bombeck Flat, areas with thick snowcover had just over a foot of ice, and areas with minimal snowcover had 17 inches. More roads are planned, but plowing will have to wait until Friday due to the high winds today, Jan. 16. Expect more areas to open to anglers with portables by this weekend.
Isle/Onamia – Lake Mille Lacs
Most of the resorts that normally plow roads on Lake Mille Lacs have now done so, and they will continue to clean-up the roads and plow to new areas as they are able. There are still some slushy areas that anglers need to watch out for. Vehicle travel should only be on the plowed roads. If you choose to go “off-road,” a snowmobile is your best choice. The walleye bite on Mille Lacs is best around first and last light. A few are being taken during overnight as well. During the day, expect a mix of smaller perch, northern pike, and an occasional tullibee. The best bet is to use a slender spoon or rattle spoon tipped with a piece of minnow on your jig line, and then a shiner or rainbow on a demon or moonglow on your set line. Depths of 23-28 feet seem to be best.
I can hear the wind howling today, so it is good day to get some inside things done! I have been too busy working on the ice this past week to be able to wet a line on my own, but I have been talking to people, and here is the report. Driving conditions are pretty good, and the slush has finally started to lock up. Most lakes have 14-22 inches of ice.
Walleyes on most local lakes have slowed down, which is somewhat normal for this time of year. I still like to chase walleyes, but I tend to switch gears into crappies and sunfish. Walleyes have been moving a little deeper, and jigging or setlines, tipped with shiners or fatheads is a good choice.
Most panfish have been still hanging around 16-40 feet of water, and to help increase your chances of catching, be sure to bring your Vexilar flasher! I like to have a minnow/bobber combination and a small jig tipped with wax worms.
Good luck, and be safe!
Thanks, Capt. Tim Hanske
Leisure Outdoor Adventures