Pond Hopping – Ice Fishing Grand Rapids, MN

Pond Hopping – Ice Fishing Grand Rapids, MN

Feb 23, 2012

Pike and crappie on ice in Grand Rapids, Minnesota

You can breathe fishing here in the Minnesota Northwoods, land of angling legends!

I hopped off a plane in Duluth and into the truck of Tom Neustrom, who entered the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame three years ago. Our destination was Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and we hadn’t been on the road 20 minutes before Tom’s phone rang. Caller I.D. read: “Al Lindner”


Bro knows crappie! And the lakes of the Grand Rapids, MN, area, too. Brian "Bro" Brosdahl is widely acknowledged as one of the top ice fishermen in the sport today.


My mission was to sample some mid-winter ice fishing action on a sampling of the 1,000 lakes within a mere 60-mile radius of Grand Rapids.

The next morning found me dropping jigs down six- and eight-inch holes on Bowstring Lake with ice fishing wizard Brian “Bro” Brosdahl and good friend and In-Fisherman staff writer Cory Schmidt. Crappie and perch came quickly, but the action soon tailed off to a mere fish here and there, and we commenced to “hole-hop.”

But that mid-morning lull was a mere dramatic pause for the action that followed.  Cory’s MarCum Showdown sonar unit showed a nervous bar of activity about half-way down the water column. Boom! One crappie, then another, and another.

“There’s a tornado swirling down there,” said Bro. And indeed it was! I don’t know how many crappie we took from that spot. It took us a few minutes to pitch Bro’s Frabill shelter over the spot, but the pause had no impact on the action except to give a few hefty perch time to slip into a seat in the crappie school.

The crappie are thick and golden on Bowstring. And they were just as hungry when we left as when we first hit the “tornado.”

When in Bro country, do as Bro do!

Now Bro knows ice fishing, and Bro knows panfish. And I mean he knows them about as well as anyone. When he recommends a bait or presentation, I make sure I’m in lockstep with him.

Besides, we were fishing his home waters!

Perch barged in on Brosdahl's crappie party. Hey, that's okay!

His first bait choice was a “Medusa” tail of maggots — that is, larvae wriggling in different directions — on a Northland Bro Bug. (And, yes, the “Bro’s” are related!)

Next came a similar set of squirmers on a Northland Mud Bug.

We found both the crappie and perch suspended in the water column. Bro said he generally finds the “bull bluegill” for which he is famous closer to bottom this time of year.

Grand Rapids interlude

The great thing for Small Waters Fishing  viewers is that the Grand Rapids, Minnesota, area has that perfect mix of marquee big waters like Pokegama, the Mississippi River, Winnibigoshish, and Turtle lakes, but it also has countless smaller waters from pothole size to several hundred acres that get minimal fishing pressure, despite their outstanding populations of bass, walleye and other species.

Nearly all Minnesota waters have launch ramps. But what’s really nice for the small craft angler is that a lightweight boat can be not only adequate but preferred on a few of the lakes that have only small or primitive ramps.

Ice pike


I joined Marty and Scott Glorvigen, for some northern pike action on Frabill tip-ups the following day. The “Gemini 2” twins and founders of Wired2Fish led us to several nice pike. When the fishing went dead in mid-

One of the tip-ups of Gemini2 and Wired2Fish twins Marty and Scott Glorvigen brought up three northern pike.

afternoon, I picked their brains on area waters and their fishing businesses.

I’m heading back home today, but we’ll have an expanded report and videos on ice fishing in the Grand Rapids area next week.

Thanks to Jeff Marble and the Frabill crew and to Jon Marshall, Steve Hanson and the MarCum sonar units and underwater cameras that they brought along.  And I’d have had a tough time getting around without the help of Megan Christianson, Tom Neustrom, Steve “Chef-on-Ice” Arbour and the other welcoming hands from Grand Rapids.

Like Arnold, “I’ll be back!” come open water season!                        –MP

For more info – See SWF Feature – Mike’s Excellent Fishing & Dining in Grand Rapids, MN

Check out the new Frabill live bait containers, cold weather apparel, and the Bro Signature line of ice fishing rod and reel combos, including the new Straight Line Combo…and Frabill Tip-ups. (www.frabill.com)

Look to SWF for more information in coming weeks on MarCum’s portable Showdown sonar units, LX-5 and LX-7 multi-view flashers, and VS625sd and VS825sd underwater cameras. (www.marcumtech.com)

Check out the Visit Grand Rapids (www.visitgrandrapids.com) website for more information on fishing and accommodations.


  1. Steve Arbour /

    Thanks for coming to the Rapids. I am glad it was a good time for all. I enjoyed getting to meet all of you and hope to see you all in the future. steve

    • Clearwater Beach, Florida has the best Salt water fishing gediud tours around. Guranteed to have a blast, take Beer with you and enjoy catching fish.When you return your fish is cleaned for you and packed in ice in your cooler.I have been twice and you keep everything you can handle. We brought back three coolers full of Spanish Mackarel and fill my upright freezer till the next trip in about 12 months.All of my fish fry’s localy are great and I even conrtibute to organizations to help them oout.To cut the costs, I take orders before I go and it pays for half my trip.God cannot deduct a Man’s life from fishing:)

  2. Fine job with the blog

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