Early Ice Walleyes in Minnesota

Eric showing off some of our Walleyes

I finally got the opportunity to get in on some early ice walleyes this year.  My friend Eric and I went out on Lake Ida by Alexandria, Minnesota this weekend in search of some early ice walleyes.  From the reports I’ve been getting, every lake seems a bit different for ice conditions.  Some lakes are reporting 9-10 inches, and at my lake which is by Perham, MN, it is wide open, you could take a boat out there (as of Saturday).  Crazy.

Our fishing grounds on Lake Ida

Where we were at on Lake Ida, there was a pretty consistent 5 inches along the shoreline, and then about 4 inches out a bit further.  I’m not as young and invincible as I used to be, so we didn’t push it too much.  The spot we were hoping to fish was a break about 300 yards from shore.  There was a pretty big pressure ridge between us and our spot, and given there wasn’t too much ice, we decided not to push it.  We went a bit further down the shore and fished a break that was only about 150 feet from shore.  It’s a pretty steep break we had never fished before, but since it looked much safer, we thought we would give that a try.

The view from my ice house at sunset. It was incredible. Looks like we should be in a boat, not an ice house.

Saturday night we punched holes in about 16 feet of water.  We ended up with 2 walleyes and 1 northern.  Sunday morning, we moved out a bit deeper on the break and set up one portable in 18 feet and one in 20 feet of water.  Each house produced 2 walleyes and we both missed a couple as well.  In the end, we had 6 really great eaters for lunch (all were between 14-17 inches) and had a great time.

Eric and I are both pretty aggressive fisherman, and if we mark something by our bait that doesn’t hit, we switch presentations until we find something that is working.  All of our fish ended up coming on a red buckshot rattle spoon tipped with a shiner head.  Our set lines got hit a couple times, but the fish were never there when we went to set the hook.  We were jigging pretty aggressively until we marked a fish in the area, and then slowed down the presentation.  That seemed to do the trick.

Nothing beats fresh walleye for lunch!

As you can see from the pictures, there isn’t a flake of snow on the ice.  Based on the conditions out there now, and the lack of snow in the forecast, we are set up to possibly have great ice conditions this year, which would be a welcome change from the past few years.  The ice on Lake Ida was crystal clear with very few major cracks to worry about.  It was a bit unnerving wandering out, but after we got the holes drilled and started fishing, all the worries went away.  With the holidays coming up, I’m not sure I’ll be hitting the ice for walleyes in the next couple weeks, but I should get several days out there around the new year to hit it hard. In the mean time, the fresh walleye we enjoyed for lunch will have to hold me over until then.

May your ice be solid and your lines tight!


2 responses to this post.

  1. Good grief, man… That’s a very chilly hobby!

    Ice house? Shiner head? Jigging??

    I need to brush up on my fishing terminology.


  2. Ha. Yea, but it is beautiful out there. When are you going to make it to Minnesota for a day on the ice? 🙂 No better way to brush up on terminology than to just get out there and do it.


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