LateIce_JoeBalog_March_image2 (2)This week’s Grand Rapids Ice Fishing Report brought to you by Tom Neustrom, Grand Rapids area professional fishing guide, Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame Inductee, National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Inductee, and professional outdoor consultant.

The winter weather in the Grand Rapids area has been as normal as one could ask for,  With approximately 15-20 inches of snow area lakes and trails are in good condition. There are over 2,000 miles of groomed trails that will take you through hardwood forests, white pine plantations, through tamarack studded bogs, and around old mining ponds.

Getting into the later cold water period of the winter hard water season species of fish have been in water temperatures at 32 degrees they can become lethargic and not make as many migrations from day to day. Some days you have to drill many more holes than normal and have to be even more mobile. Most of the green weeds have died off and especially pan fish seem to gravitate because of oxygen and minute bugs that stay in the weeds all year.

Later in the winter months bluegill have a tendency to find mud bottom bays and close to shore areas that have a different type of grub such as blood worms and larvae stages. This is why until late ice that drilling lots of holes will help you to contact schools of bluegills that are in search of areas that hold their desired prey.

Neustrom Winter Crappie 2Crappies can be similar except for their location to be slightly different. Crappies desire soft mud bottoms bays and locations that have bloodworms and other larvae stages that come off the bottom at different times of the day. They too can occupy different layers of the water column but tend to stay in certain depths and areas throughout the winter months. Small tungsten jigs with either euro larvae, wax worms, or imitating plastics will put fish on the ice during these times and conditions. Remember to use your electronics to find suspended fish and move frequently looking for fish. As the walleye and northern pike season comes to a close, fishing for bluegills, crappies, and perch can be lots of fun and rewarding.

Be sure to be aware of the Minnesota Fishing Seasons, and make sure to tell someone where you are going before you head out. Another safety tip is to leave a note on your windshield when you left and when you expect to be back with emergency contact numbers. You can never be too safe when heading out on frozen lakes in the water. Have fun and be safe!