Upper Red Lake’s winter walleye season is coming to a messy end as anglers and resorters pull back from an ice season that never produced the wild bite that has taken place in recent years, West Wind Resort owner Barb Woltjer said Tuesday.
“Fishing ends for us on Sunday,” Woltjer said. “It’s muddy and sloppy right now.”
To the north on Lake of the Woods, February’s thaw is ending and solid ice conditions could persist all the way to March 31, the date all fish houses must be removed from the American side of the border lake.
Lake of the Woods has been producing a decent walleye bite this winter, said Paul Arnesen, owner of Arnesen’s Rocky Point Resort between Warroad and Baudette. Business has been good, he said.
While the lake’s ice sheet is covered with water from melting snow and ice, temperatures are falling again at a time when the ice still has integrity, Arnesen said. So far there’s no talk of ending the season early, he said.
The two northern lakes, separated by a distance of 40 miles, are premier ice-fishing destinations for hardcore walleye anglers. Both lakes support abundant fish populations, and walleyes in Upper Red Lake were judged to be in such good shape last year that the DNR raised the summer bag limit for them from two to three fish.
Woltjer said anglers this winter were marking lots of walleyes on their fish-finders, but it was a challenge all winter to get them to bite. The Upper Red Lake winter walleye season ends Sunday at midnight.
“We’re in our last days, and there’s a foot of water on the lake and not a speck of snow,” Woltjer said. “The shoreline is already full of houses that were pulled from the lake.”
Woltjer said another atypical aspect of the season has been the location of walleyes. Normally they can be caught far off shore in the winter, but this season — especially lately — they walleyes were being found in 5 to 7 feet of water.