Now is the best time for spring ice fishing enthusiasts to get out on the ice as the weather is warming and the days are longer. April offers spectacular panfish and perch fishing in the Grand Rapids, MN area. And when the sun’s out be sure take along the sun tan lotion and grab a set of sunglasses, even if they are a pair of “cheap sun glasses,” like legendary rock ‘n’ rollers ZZ Top sang about and you won’t necessarily even have to grow out your beard to wear them.
There’s still plenty of ice on which to fish. But try to focus on ATVs, side by sides and snowmobiles rather than trucks as there are some slush and drifts lurking out there. You will also need an extension on you auger and be sure to clean the hole out half way through to prevent a buried auger in the ice.
The perch action is starting to heat up as the walleye’s little cousin enters its pre-spawn stage and puts on the feedbag. Check out shallow water from 12’-18’ and maybe even a touch shallower as perch and sunnies will feed on larva coming out of decaying weed beds. Also look for rock structure in the shallows close to these old weed beds and/or soft slopes in 20’ were bottom bug hatches might be occurring. Try using a tad larger presentation with minnow heads to catch the more aggressive jumbo perch and then downsize you presentation if needed.
Crappies and bluegills will also be found on these “buggy” soft slopes in 20’, sliding at times into the steeper basins of 30 feet. Trust your electronics. Look for suspended fish deep and shallow. Fish two lines if possible (legal for ice fishing, but not open water), one with a bobber and minnow (called a “dead” stick because it is not jigged) and the other jigged lightly with a wax worm.
Small bug-like lures work well for panfish, but also switch it up occasionally, especially if the fish aren’t cooperating, with a size up presentation like a Lindy Rattling Flyer or Northland Tackle spoon type jigs. Tipping with a minnow sometimes entices “nicer” crappies or perch to bite.
Whitefish and tullibees will also hold on these steep slopes. Use two lines here also, one with a larger spoon to act as an attractant and the other with smaller “bug” jig tipped with a waxie.
For a current MN Fishing Report please contact local bait shops, sporting goods stores/departments and resorts for up to date ice conditions.
Nik Dimich is a fulltime, year round Grand Rapids, MN and Lake Winnie area fishing guide. To book a trip, please contact him at www.DimichOutdoors.com or “like” Dimich Outdoors on Facebook.