As ice fishing season heads toward mid-winter, the weather continues to raise challenges all across the area.
Recently, the fish started biting as the temps rose into the 30s, but the front that rolled through last weekend pushed active fish off of feeding spots and back to deeper water. Some lake access areas are clogged with snow, depending on the lake, and the snow is also making the lakes more difficult to travel in a vehicle.
Several area lakes are starting to establish a decent bite after last week, and the bite should resume once the cold recedes.
Lake Hendricks has a nice perch bite going on the north end of the lake, as a few good-sized schools roam the basin, although moving around is critical in finding and staying on top of the school.
Toward evening, the walleye bite is picking up closer to shore, as the walleyes move in shallow to feed. Naturally, most of the activity has come along the points, so working out away from the points during the day and then moving in closer as it gets dark should produce some keeper walleyes.
Perch Lake and Popowski Slough also have some perch going, although both lakes have a significant population of smaller perch. Using larger baits will keep some of the small perch off as you sort through for the keepers.
Anglers have been finding walleyes on Lake Shetek, with the best bite coming after midnight, as often happens in the winter with clear water. Gold jigs tipped with minnows have been excellent producers after dark, or any glow jigs have worked pretty well. Crappies have been scarce so far, but a few have been mixed in with the walleyes before dark.
A few reports of both walleyes and perch are coming off of Lady Slipper Lake, with perch averaging more than 9 inches, and a range of walleyes from 14 to 25 inches. Nearby School Grove Lake has been quiet, with a slow walleye bite.
Further north, the bite on Big Stone has slowed down since Christmas, with fewer anglers reporting limits of perch. The big schools have probably broken into smaller groups, which make them more difficult to locate. Lac Qui Parle has been steady for walleyes, anywhere from 15-19 inches, and the crappie bite has also been good to excellent.
Other area lakes have had plenty of traffic but success has been limited. This cold snap should firm up any slushy spots that formed. Look for the fish to get active again as the temperatures moderate throughout the week.
Stay safe out on the ice!
This week's tip comes from Frabill Pro-Staff member Jon Bloom: When schools of perch or crappies are not responding to your presentation, try aggressively working a rattling bait to draw fish in, then switch quickly to a more subtle presentation to get them to bite. The rattle will attract fish and create competition for any food source. It can be tricky to get the timing down, but it definitely can put more fish on the ice.