Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, there are always fish biting somewhere. This winter is no exception-look and you may find. Late January brings along with it other problems. It’s usually easier to find fish then it is to find lakes and areas where travel isn’t inhibited by deep snow, drifting, flooded slushy lake surfaces, and poor access. Many fishermen are already taking their permanent fish houses in as they struggle to get out on the lake. It’s the time of year that many ice fishermen wonder if getting stuck is worth a fish.
If you can get out on a lake, panfish species and the predators that eat them are best concentrated making them easier to catch. Also, the fun thing about seeking panfish is that you can catch larger fish like bass and northern pike while catching sunfish and crappie. Northerns can be found mostly near the weeds using sucker minnows, and fishing is best during the evening or early morning hours. Walleye are far less predictable and accessible. Walleye seem to be located under the deepest snowdrifts in the county, but can be found anyway from 17-36 feet using shiners and fat heads on different lakes in the area. Walleye fishing right now is best between 4:30 and 6:30 in the late afternoon. Crappie are following a similar trend. They are biting best in late afternoon and/or after the sun sets–be sure and fish them about half way down the water column to about 3 feet off the bottom (at about 10-15 feet on average), and the largest ones are often just under the ice sheet. Think small, when it comes to bait and lure selections and don’t forget about the “simple” rigs–plain hooks and a split shot. Also, keep track of where you hook your minnows. Try hooking them closer to the tail so they can’t get away from your fish.
Good luck fishing in Ottertail County, be sure to bring a shovel and a tow rope when you’re out on the lake. It only gets better from here! Once we start thawing, the fishing and lake access will be a lot easier then right now.