Time to Focus on Panfish, Northern Pike and Trout Fishing

Brainerd, MN—Our walleye and northern pike ice fishing season comes to an end, but panfish, Mille Lacs northern pike and inland trout remain open. Be careful with this ice, shorelines are deteriorating at a fast rate! We’ve found spots with open water and good ice up to 10 inches; check as you go.

Catch crappies along weed lines and over weed flats in 8–17 feet of water and some schools are roaming shallow basins. 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). 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, and they are aggressive!

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. Don’t be afraid to use DNR approved deadbait for those big Mille Lacs pike on quick strike rigs on the bottom or suspended near bottom.

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.

Plan your ice fishing getaway today. Learn more about lodging available in Brainerd and Baxter, MN, check-out the calendar of events, and read our blog of things to do.