Warmer weather has slowed the progress of ice on Mille Lacs this week. While the main lake is still open, the bays have added a little more ice. Most of what I measured this week was around seven inches. ATV traffic is just starting to get out, be sure to check conditions for yourself. Safety picks, ice cleats, and a spud bar are a must on first ice.
There are still some excellent fishing opportunities in the bays. First ice produces some of the biggest pike of the year, good daytime perch action, and an excellent evening walleye bite.
A large shiner on a set line is my favorite presentation for big pike on first ice. Typically I will set them about a third of the way down, just over the weed tops. Distinct weed lines featuring live green cabbage are the best areas for this technique. Typically these areas are found around 10 feet deep.
While pike fishing I'll often times jig for perch. Most of the fish are small, but a few keepers are usually mixed in. Small tungsten jigs tipped with spikes are best. Quiver the jig a couple of feet off the bottom for fast action.
The evenings in the bays generally will produce a flurry of walleye activity. Flutter spoons tipped with minnow heads will attract aggressive walleye. A plain hook and minnow will get the rest. Small shiners are perfect for this.
Stay safe, and good luck fishing!
Lagoona Guide Service