The Brainerd Lakes Area of Minnesota has been producing multiple species of fish!

Brainerd, MN—Here’s what we’re doing to catch them! Also, we’ve found holes of open water, ice thickness down to about 4 inches, and good ice up to 10 inches, so be careful out there!

Catch crappies along weed lines in 16–22 feet of water and suspended over basins; they may drop near bottom, so vary your jigging depth in the water column to draw fish to you. We’ve been finding the majority of our crappies over the basin. Jig crappies with 1/16-ounce or 1/32-ounce jig tipped with a Mister Twister Sassy Stingum, 1/16-ounce Lindy Frostee spoon tipped with a wax worm (our go-to) or glide-bait style lure, such as a Vexan Crystal Reaper. We’ll switch to a Mister Twister Sassy Stingum or wax worm on a Tungsten jig if they aren’t hitting the spoons. Aggressive jigging will bring schools in, although it’s a good idea to drill several holes and jig at least 10–15 minutes in each hole before moving to the next hole or spot due to the movement of fish. Jig higher in the water column, a good rule of thumb is splitting the depth in half and jigging at that location in the water column as well as jigging within 2–3 feet from the bottom, vary it up every few minutes, and don’t be afraid to dead-stick without jigging for 10–15 minutes if the fish are finicky.

Bluegills have been hitting tungsten jigs tipped with the tail end of a Mister Twister Sassy Stingum or wax worm in similar areas and schooled up as well.

Northern pike are hitting sucker minnows or shiners, and spoons tipped with a minnow head. We are jigging high in the water column and set lines are above the weeds in 12–18 feet.

Walleyes have been aggressive, and cruising the shallows during the day, as well as overnight in clear lakes. Walleyes are hitting minnows/live bait presentations (such as shiners or fatheads) or spoons tipped with a minnow head, jigged near bottom in 13–22 feet of water. On Mille Lacs, find fish on the first break in low light conditions, edges of rocks or mud flats in the daytime.

Find perch in schools inside pockets of expansive weed flats in 8–16 feet or on Mille Lacs mudflats in 24–30 feet. Jigging aggressively with a spoon tipped with a minnow head or tungsten jig and fathead has been producing bites. Hot tip: make frequent bottom contact to stir up stand and debris to entice finicky biters, add a slow lift to seal the deal.

Continue ice safety checks due to varying conditions on several lakes; though most lakes are safe for ATV or snowmobile travel at this time. Check ice frequently as you move across bodies of water, stay off ice less than four inches, and please review the Minnesota DNR resources to help determine ice safety, immersion survival, etc.

If you’re wondering where and how to fish the Brainerd Lakes Area or Mille Lacs Lake, tune in to Visit Brainerd for weekly fishing reports by Hawg Hunterz Guide Service LLC! As always, have fun, stay safe and Happy Hawg Hunting!! Learn more at Hawg Hunterz on YouTube.

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