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Brainerd Lakes Area, MN (Jan. 8th, 2024)

The ice is back, and so is ice fishing in the Brainerd Lakes Area of Minnesota! Fishing has been up and down with the weather changes, and we’re about to see some cold weather, I mean ice making weather this week! Continue ice safety checks due to varying conditions on several lakes; some have very thin, dangerous ice and some are good for ATV or Snowmobile travel. Make sure you’re checking ice conditions frequently (stay off ice under 4 inches). Safety First: The MN DNR has many great resources online to help determine ice safety, immersion survival, etc. (https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/index.html )

In weedy bays or shallow basins, panfish and northern pike remain active! Catch crappies in bays and weedy shorelines under 14ft of water and suspended over basins; they may drop near bottom with this cold weather. Jig crappies with 1/16oz or 1/32oz jig tipped with a Mister Twister Sassy Stingum, 1/16oz Lindy Frostee spoon (our go-to) or glide-bait style lure, such as a Vexan Crystal Reaper. We’ll switch to a Mister Twister Sassy Stingum or wax worm on a Tungsten jig if they aren’t hitting the spoons. Aggressive jigging will bring schools in, although it’s a good idea to drill several holes and jig at least 10-15 minutes in each hole before moving to the next hole or spot due to the movement of fish. Jig higher in the water column, a good rule of thumb is splitting the depth in half and jigging at that location in the water column as well as jigging within 2-3ft from the bottom, vary it up every few minutes. Bluegills have been hitting tungsten jigs tipped with the tail end of a Mister Twister Sassy Stingum or wax worm.

Northern pike are hitting sucker minnows or shiners, and spoons tipped with a minnow head. We are jigging high in the water column and set lines are above the weeds in 8-16ft.

Walleyes are active at low light periods and cruising the shallows during the day and overnight! Walleyes are hitting minnows/livebait presentations (such as shiners or fatheads) or spoons tipped with a minnow head, jigged near bottom in 18-25ft of water. 

Find perch in schools inside pockets of expansive weed flats in 8-16ft. Jigging aggressively with a spoon tipped with a minnow head or tungsten jig and fathead has been producing bites. Hot tip: make frequent bottom contact to stir up stand and debris to entice finicky biters, add a slow lift to seal the deal.

(Hawg Hunterz on YouTube: https://youtube.com/@Hawg_Hunterz?si=7nT8seyoNLAVCgL9 )

Once again, practice safety first on all early ice bodies of water! If you’re wondering where and how to fish, tune in to Visit Brainerd for weekly fishing reports by Hawg Hunterz Guide Service LLC! As always, have fun, stay safe and Happy Hawg Hunting!! 

Dustin Monson 
Hawg Hunterz Guide Service LLC
Ph: 320-293-2442 
Website: Www.hawghunterzguideservice.weebly.com