Last year was not a good year if you like ice fishing in March on Lake of the Woods. After an unseasonably warm weekend with temps hitting the low 70’s (not a typo), ice went to heck very quickly and resorts were forced to pull houses only one week into the season in 2016. Wouldn’t you know, after houses were pulled off, the weather was cold and the ice firmed right back up, but too late for most.
What a difference a year can make. Currently, there is 24 or more inches of solid ice. There is enough snow to snowmobile and keep tracks lubricated, yet not too much so you can’t drive a truck. Conditions are ideal. And to top it off, the fishing remains excellent. On the south end, a nice mixture of walleyes and saugers with some mixed in jumbo perch, tulibees and pike. Anglers are fishing in anywhere from 26 – 32′ of water with good success.
Walleyes, crappies, jumbo perch_cleaning table_Sunset Lodge_Feb_2017 Bubba_18.5_inch_sauger 19 inch sauger- wheelers point Hayden picard, big pike-sunset lodgeHawg walleye- wheelers point
The hot lures for walleyes and saugers are jigging spoons in gold, glow red or pink tipped with a minnow head or tail. On the deadstick, a plain hook with a live minnow seems to be the best. Many are using a glow white hook to increase the odds even more. Some walleyes are coming through suspended and some baits such as chubby darters and jigging raps are starting to heat up.
March is famous for the pike bite through the ice on Lake of the Woods. For the pike anglers who have started, fishing has been strong. Most start fishing as things start melting in March but the bite is actually good starting in mid February. Although February is colder, it can be good for pike.
The reason pike fishing is good throughout March is the pike begin to stage for the spawn. They are congregated out in front of spawning areas and have their feed bag on with the upcoming spawn approaching. Typically a quick strike rig with a live sucker or dead ciscos or other bait is the ticket. Please remember the MN DNR required all bait to be certified by a bait dealer with a sticker on the packaging for the minnows. Bait cannot be used that is purchased by local fish markets and grocery stores.
Crappies are still biting well up at the NW Angle. Anglers are working through NW Angle resorts and finding crappies primarily in Ontario waters. Be sure to work through a resort and guide as there are current areas between islands that makes ice thin in certain areas. Crappie fishing this year has been absolutely excellent and should continue as long as ice remains.
It is hard to imagine ice fishing is going so well up north with many areas having no snow and diminishing ice at best, but if you have a desire to get on the ice one more time before the ice fishing season closes, here is your opportunity. As many anglers know, March ice fishing on Lake of the Woods can be some of the best of the year and due to the extended season, it is an absolute gift!