Last chance ice 2012

Last chance ice 2012

Mar 15, 2012

One Last Chance to Ice ‘em

By Mike Pehanich

The ice is gone…or is it?  If you are within a reasonable drive of the Minnesota Northwoods or Canadian waters, think twice before you store the auger, short rods and tip-ups. Where good ice prevails, the best ice fishing of the year may be right now!

Though caution must prevail as the ice fishing season winds down, Northwoods lakes still have ice. And, on many waters, the fish are hitting so well that you almost expect one to jump through an 8-inch hole!

For a comfortable late season ice fishing adventures, consider these areas right now:

Lake of the Woods

Brian "Bro" Brosdahl loves late ice action on Lake of the Woods and on his home ice in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota area,

“We are enjoying both strong walleye and panfish bites right now,” reports Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, who had me momentarily longing for the ice of the Great White North instead of the shirt-sleeve weather here at home with this twilight walleye he caught on Lake of the Woods several days ago. “It was in the 50s today, and the fishing was great.”

Exactly one year ago, I joined the Frabill/MarCum/Northland-sponsored pro, his wife Heather and a Who’s Who crew of ice fishing notables including Tony Roach, Dave Bennett, Jeff Gustafson, Jason Mitchell, Cory Schmidt, Bill Lindner, Northland Fishing Tackle’s John Peterson and John Crane, MarCum’s Jon Marshall, and others on this million-acre water on the Ontario/Minnesota border for some outstanding ice fishing for magnum perch, sauger, walleye, crappie, monstrous northern pike and even a few smallmouth bass. (SWF will chronicle this adventure before the next ice season.)

We took a 38-mile trek across the ice on snowmobiles, bombardiers and strangely equipped SUVs to reach our Oak Island Resort campsite. Trip highlights included an 11th hour catch of a 31-inch walleye and northern pike estimated at 24 pounds on a tip-up.

Contacts: Oak Island Sportsman’s Lodges at 866-998-4370 (

Grand Rapids, MN

Northern pike are already staging near spawning areas under the ice. Try tip-ups with quick-strike rigs.

The Grand Rapids, Minnesota, area is still producing great crappie, perch, walleye, pike and bluegill action. Brian “Bro” Brosdahl continues to catch big perch, bluegill and the rest of the critters on his ice fishing roster.. Northern pike are in a pre-spawn pattern near spawning bays and creek mouths. They will bite on suckers rigged on tip-ups with quick-strike rigs. Saucer-size bluegills may enter the mix as well. (see Mike’s Excellent Grand Rapids, MN, Ice Fishing and Dining Adventure for the details)

Visit Grand Rapids  218-326-9607

Bro’s Guide Service  218-340-6051 

Lake Mille Lacs

On Monday, Mark Fisher of Rapala was headed to Minnesota’s Lake Mille Lacs for that fabled water’s last chance walleye, pike and perch action. “We won’t be driving our trucks on the lake any more,” said Fisher. “But this late season ice fishing can be as good as it gets.”

Guide Tony Roach is preparing for the open water season. But he says some of the season's best jumbo perch fishing on Lake Mille Lacs is right now. And you might hang into a big walleye, too.

Tony Roach, nephew of walleye legend Gary Roach and one of the best ice fishing and walleye guides in the country, counts coup on monster ‘eyes during the last weeks of fishable ice and catches plenty of crappie, bluegill, pike and other species on Mille Lacs and neighboring waters. He closed the ice fishing portion of his guide business to prepare for an early open water season, but he knows he will be missing some of the best perch action of the year.

“The jumbo perch have moved from deeper water and are staging in water about 10 feet deep or shallower,” says Roach who tapped a hot bluegill ice bite in the Grand Rapids area yesterday with Cory Schmidt and his uncle Gary. “Look for big schools of jumbos along the weedlines and in the bays.”

Contact: Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council  320-676-9972

Contact Tony Roach at Roach’s Guide Service for the open water walleye season or an early 2012-2013 ice booking at 763-226-6656 ( )

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