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Otter Tail Country Tourism

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Minnesota Fishing Report

It's been a quiet week around Otter Tail County.  Fishermen are anxiously waiting for the temperatures to warm up so they can return to the ice for "spring" panfishing.  According to Minnesota law, permanent fish houses had to be off the lakes in the Otter Tail region by the 3rd of March.  There always seems to be a period of inactivity on the lakes once the fish houses come off.  It's a serene time.  The lakes have a days-gone-by appearance.  They are flat and white and the scape and vastness are uninterrupted by fish houses and trucks and ATV's and men.  It's a wonderful sight really.  The solitude won't last long.  Upon the onset of warming temperatures, the panfishermen will head back on the lakes as our spring thaw dawns.  It's a great time and seems to be a "throwback," because a lot of spring anglers sit on buckets and skip around from hole to hole--rather then "shacking up" and sitting stationary.   It seems, there is a thaw just around the corner, so the time has come to try some "throwback" style fishing.  This is how it works:  Leave the fish house and portable at home.  Bring your auger and a few poles and a Vexlar (or not).  Dress mid-warm, so it's not cumbersome to drill holes and move around.  A grand thing about this time of year is that when the temps are luke at night, yesterday's holes will stay open, and a lot of common fishing areas will have a  lot of holes to choose from.  Often it just takes a kick with the heal and you're ready to fish.  If you have a locator along, "scan" all the open holes in the area (make sure they are not being used!).  Panfish sit elevated in the water column so you'll mark them.  Or stand over your hole and angle 3-7 feet down so that you can see your lure/wax worm and wait to see a fish approach or bite.  Once you find a zone with multiple "marks" or fish, then it's time to set up camp.  I personally like to drill off to the side of "common" fishing areas in hopes to discover a fresh group of fish that haven't been picked on yet--the fish are usually larger in those areas.  Of course, that requires drilling my own set of holes, in which case, I like to drill around 12 to get started.  As mentioned last week, you'll need an auger extension for a couple weeks yet.  A nice trick to try, is drill a couple holes off to the side of the main area and set a crappie tip-up.  It's just like setting a tip-up for pike or walleye, except I lighten things up and tip the hook with a small crappie minnow.  This device has helped me discover crappie and sunfish both.  It doesn't necessarily catch the bite on the line but lets you know there are fish in that area.   Good luck fishing on a bucket in Otter Tail Lakes Country this week.

Content provided by Ross Hagemeister - Meister Guide Service

posted by Otter Tail Country Tourism Association at


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