The “hard water” season is underway in northern Minnesota. I talked on the phone with Steve Brasel of Bear Paw Guides on Upper Red Lake and he said there is enough ice for people to go fishing, about 4-5 inches. He lives on the lake and his son, Tyler, is a guide who fishes the lake year round.
One of Tyler’s specialties is northern pike, which the lake has in abundance. And, they are supersized. According to Steve, Tyler routinely catches pike of 40 inches and longer, which puts them in the 20-pound range. He targets them more earlier in the winter, but they can be caught all winter long. I have caught them in the summer and hope to get one of these ‘gators on the end of my line this winter.
In addition to the pike, there are lots of walleyes to be caught, plus huge, 1-pound and bigger crappies. A friend of mine used Bear Paw Guides twice last winter and did very well both times, catching lots of walleyes on the first trip and catching his limit of crappies on the second. Normally, crappies bite better later in the winter.
I am hoping to get out on the ice with Steve and Tyler this winter. Stay tuned! In the meantime, check out Bear Paw Guides’ web site at http://www.bearpawguides.com. Or, call Steve at 218-368-3755 for current ice conditions and fishing reports. He said he’s booking his ice houses fast on the weekends, but has plenty of availability on weekdays. I recommend going during the week. I went to Upper Red on weekdays twice last year. There are a lot fewer people and you feel like you have the lake all to yourself.
If you’ve got a hot spot or an ice fishing story to share, let me know!