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Brainerd Lakes Area, MN (January 10th, 2023)

Snow, snow, snow! The Brainerd Lakes Area has been looking like a winter wonderland! Ice fishing has been good for multiple species! We’ve noticed about 10-15 inches of ice in the area, and varying levels of snow due to wind/drifting; drifting as deep as two feet so gave plans to get out of a stuck situation. There are still slush pockets in several areas, including Gull Lake and after holes are drilled. Please ensure you’re checking ice conditions frequently (follow the MN DNR Ice Guidelines). 

(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

-Catch crappies and bluegills in bays under 12ft of water with remaining vegetation, and basins/holes of 22-30ft (finding fish suspended in the bottom third of the water column). Jig crappies with 1/16oz or 1/32oz jig tipped with a Mister Twister Sassy Stingum or wax worms, 1/16oz spoon or glide-bait style lure, such as a Crystal Reaper or Jigging Rap (I’ve had a lot of success with a small tungsten jig with a soft plastic or wax worm too). Aggressive jigging will bring schools in, although it’s a good idea to drill several holes and jig 10-15 minutes in each hole before moving to the next hole or spot. Schools are roaming heavily and moving to varying spots is a good idea until you find a lot 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. Pluck fish from the top of schools to avoiding scattering the school. Bluegills continue hitting tungsten jigs tipped with the tail end of a Mister Twister Sassy Stingum or wax worm on weed flats or soft bottom areas in those similar locations. Northern pike are hitting sucker minnows and spoons tipped with a minnow head. Try suspending a sucker minnow or shiner under a tip up/IFishPro in 10-18ft, especially around weeds. Walleyes are active at low light periods and hitting minnows/livebait presentations or spoons tipped with a minnow head jigged near bottom in 24-28ft of water. (Fishing Videos: https://youtube.com/@Hawg_Hunterz ) 

-On Mille Lacs, main lake areas are accessible by ATV or Snowmobile, though first shoreline break offers many opportunities for quality fish too and patience in these areas is important as fish size could be worth the time! Target walleyes and northern pike in 6-18ft, or 22-27ft. Target them with sucker minnows or shiners on set lines or Deadsticks, or jigging a spoon tipped the head of a fathead (Lindy Quiver Spoon in metallic colors 1/8oz or 1/4oz). We’ve been catching many year classes of walleyes on secondary and main lake structures! (Make sure you read the Mille Lacs Special Regulations: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/millelacs.html)

We’re excited about all the opportunities this ice fishing season! Always practice safety first on all early ice bodies of water! Have fun, stay safe and Happy Hawg Hunting!

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