Anglers are reporting walleye hitting on shiner minnows in 25 to 30 feet of water about an hour or two after sunrise and and hour or two before sunset. The most popular area is in Sand Bay. There have also been some perch and crappie mixed in. The advice is once crappie start hitting your jig, start fishing a little further off the bottom, they generally hang a few feet above where the walleye are feeding.
If you are looking for large northern pike, try a tip-up and large minnow in 10-to-15 feet of water around the mouth of Black Bay or Cranberry Bay.
Snowmobilers will find the best conditions in the State, and it doesn’t hurt that groomers are now working with another new 2 to 4 inces of snow. The National Park Service reports the snowmobile, ski and snowshoe trails are all in good shape. If you want to give a try at skiing or snowshoeing, head for the Rainy Lake Visitor Center where they have snowshoes and skis and easy access to the trails
The Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association held their Winter Rendezvous on the Presidents Day weekend. About 175 people converged to meet and also ride our trails. Sledders told us they found the groomed trail system seamless, well marked and groomed and offering exceptional scenery and riding. Many plan to come back as they also told us this is about the only area in the state with sufficient snow to have well groomed trails.
Cross country ski and snowshoe trails are all open and packed as well, the Black Bay Trail in the National Park and the Tilson Trails just west of the Rainy Lake Visitor Center offer some exceptional skiing and scenery.
Meanwhile, anglers are hitting Rainy Lake and pulling in walleye and crappie in Sand Bay using glo jigs and shiner minnows. Most of the reports are coming from Sand Bay, probably because the bitter cold is discouraging some folks from taking portable gear east and into the National Park. Although the fishing can be great around Dryweed and Cranberry Island, you can’t leave gear on the ice overnight. The need to take portable gear and set-up and take-down in bone chilling cold is probably discouraging some anglers
The best bet for walleye on Rainy Lake right now is early in the day jigging a minnow in about 30 feet of water. Anglers are hitting the common hot spots like Birch Point and American Narrows but also heading further east to the area of Cranberry Island on the Park Service Ice Road. Meanwhile, big northerns continue to hit on good sized minnows fished in about 10 feet of water.
Snowmobilers are showing up in force this weekend as the local club hosts the MNUSA Rendezvous. There will be guided snowmobile treks, programs, banquets and more. The snowmobile treks will take in some of the spectacular beauty of Voyageurs National Park. The Chain of Lakes trail on the Kabetogama Peninsula is an example of a trails with exceptional beauty.