Minnesota Fishing Report 12/15/22 (FFA Journal)

Fishing Report


  • The ice is getting thick enough that most lakes have had some ice fishing activity. Always carry a spud bar and check as you walk. 
  • Early season ice fishing is a great time to try attractor patterns like a rattling spoon or spoon and dropper combination.
  • Northern pike on tip-ups using medium suckers and fatheads has been consistent across the metro.
  • When you can find them, look for transition zones with access to deep and shallow water, bluegill and crappie are heating up. These fish love tungsten jigs tipped with waxworms or soft plastic baits.

Overall, metro ice fishing is heating up with most lakes covered in enough ice to explore them thoroughly. Most small-medium sized lakes have 6-8 inches of good ice. The big lakes should have a 4-6”, focusing on small bays will still be best. Seeing more atv’s and snowmobiles out there on the small lakes. We found fish in less than 10 feet of water on a small and shallow lake in the north metro and had the best luck on tungsten jigs with waxworms. The fish were interested in shiner minnows on a tungsten jig and a simple hook and split-shot rig but did not want to commit to a bite. 

The fish liked a lot of jigging action and rarely hit deadstick rods or jigs on the pause. So keep those jigs dancing to solicit a strike!  

The best technique: The availability of high level flashers at accessible prices has made ice fishing a mobile activity. Drill holes and check them with your electronics until you find active fish. If there are fish but they aren’t active, move around them until you find an active school. Then, continue to hole hop and pick up fish as you move. During the early ice season, fish move a lot, so having the ability to stay mobile will produce the best results. If you don’t have ice electronics, the same rules apply- Move and jig until you find the fish.

DRIFTLESS TROUT FISHING- (winter conditions remain consistent)

  • Downsize your flies and tippet. Water levels are very low and clear. The recent rain and snow may help increase flows a little bit but not much. 
  • Keep an eye out for midge or stonefly hatches on warm days. Snowy, warm days may still produce a few small Blue Wing Olive mayflies. 
  • Try using a shorter rod (7-8’) and a click & pawl reel to make removing ice easier. 
  • Winter C&R Season opens on Jan 1st in MN and Jan 7 in WI!

Our guide Ricky went down to Forestville State Park last week and reported extremely low and clear water on the Root. This will be the case for all our trout streams. These conditions require very long leaders with 6x tippet. He found success on swinging soft hackles and small midges. The bite window is late morning to early afternoon during the warmest parts of the day. Fish have moved into their winter spots, deep slow runs and pools. The most active fish will be sitting in the heads and tails of the pools. 

Winter C&R Season opens soon in MN and WI! In MN season opens on Jan 1st, and all streams is SE MN (Except Dakota County) will open to catch and release fishing. All streams in WI open up on Jan 7th for catch and release. This is a great time to explore new water in the Driftless area!     

If you venture out this time of year for fishing, you’ll have to contend with line and eyelets freezing. There’s lots of tricks to try to keep your eyelets from freezing- spray cooking oil or chap stick seems to work well enough but aren’t perfect. Another option to make life easier is to use a shorter rod (7-8’) to make reaching to top eyelets a breeze. Also try using a click and pawl reel which has no drag system. This makes it easy to pop the spool out and break up any ice build up. Often when sealed drag reels get wet they will freeze solid.  

MISSISSIPPI & ST. CROIX FISHING- (winter conditions remain consistent)

  • Winter on the major rivers is a deep and slow affair. Fish are particularly lethargic and will only move a foot or two to take the bait, fly, or lure. Concentrate on the large, deep pools. 
  • Live bait is particularly effective. 
  • When fishing with flies, go with heavier flies, sinking lines, and even split shots. If you’re not ticking bottom, it’s likely you’re not fishing deep enough.

Fishing spots are getting pretty limited out there now! Your best open-water spot on the Mississippi is between the nuke plant and Ellison park in Monticello because the water is warm. Sucker minnows or large white, tan, or olive streamers will still catch bass, pike, and walleye on the Miss. The Croix is mostly frozen over nowadays. Some folks have been ice fishing on it already below Stillwater, but we would recommend giving it another week or two to get really solid. River ice is even sketchier than lake ice!   

Regardless of the area you’re fishing, fish species, or the method used, fish strikes are often very light. Be on alert for subtle takes, and remember- hook sets are free!

Safety should also be of utmost concern this time of year. Getting hypothermia is a big deal and can happen easily when you’re in or around water in the winter. Keep a pack of dry clothes and extra warm layers handy, fish with a friend or tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back, and bring a thermos of hot cocoa, soup, or cook a hot meal to warm you up mid-day. (Whisky is good for the soul, but actually makes you colder.) Stay safe and have fun! 

Bragging Board

Hiro and Evan scouted some lakes this week for guided ice fishing trips coming soon! We found schools of good-sized bluegill and managed some solid fish alongside a mix of yellow perch and largemouth bass. 

Upcoming Events  

Casting Sessions at the YMCA

Cost: $40.00/person

Remaining Dates and Times: 2/11, 3/11 with two slots each day from 1-2PM and 2-3PM 

Keep the rust off and come practice your fly casting!

We’ve rented out the gym at the downtown Dayton Minneapolis YMCA. Come cast for one hour with our guides! We can  work on many different casting skills, including accuracy and double hauling . Beginner to advanced casters, welcome! Bring your own fly rod if you have one, otherwise a limited supply of fly rods will be available. Pre-registration is required:

Click here to Book Online!Phone: 612-293-8058Email: fishing4all.llc@gmail.com

We got this awesome review from a participant at our last casting event! “Hey Evan! Just wanted to give a shout out to your instructors today. This was my first casting lesson and it was a blast! Your instructors (I spent the majority of my time with Hiro and Rick) were awesome. They knew their stuff, were patient and gave us tips that we can work on in order to become better fly fishermen/women. I love what you are doing with Fishing For All and am a big fan!!!! Happy holidays”

Learn to Ice Fish Programs!

Fishing isn’t just a summer activity! Once our lakes freeze over, we can venture out and catch fish through the ice. We partner with various parks and rec departments around the MSP area. During our 2hr Learn to Ice Fish programs, we’ll show you how to use all the equipment, find/understand where the fish live in winter, and practice reeling in crappies, bluegills, and bass. All the equipment is provided, including one large Clam pop-up shelter and heaters! Programs are available Jan-March, depending on ice conditions. This is a wonderful winter family activity! 

Here’s a linktree to our ‘22-23 Learn to Ice Fish programs and sign up’s.

This link is to book a private guided ice fishing trip with FFA.

2023 Camp Sign-Ups are now available!!

Come fish new water, master new skills, eat good food, and join a community of adventurous anglers! Here is a list of our camps coming up in 2023. Click the links to sign up!

Come learn to fly fish for steelhead on the Brule River. Fishing For All is partnering with experienced Brule River guides from Namebini. Stay for two nights in a beautiful, modern cabin overlooking the river, and eat hearty meals courtesy of our guide’s culinary expertise. You won’t want to miss this steelhead fishing trip! 

Are you new to fly fishing or an intermediate angler hoping to deepen your knowledge of fly fishing for trout? These trout camps are hugely popular and for good reason: we not only practice new skills and develop our repertoire of techniques, but also engage with a group of like-minded anglers on this multi-day fly fishing adventure. 

Our new Dry or Die trout camp celebrates dry fly trout fishing as we hit the waters using only dry fly patterns to match the hatch or bust! This adventure is also great for those wanting a new challenge to take their dry fly fishing and bug identification skills to the next level. 

Enjoy a weekend camping, floating, bass fishing adventure on the wild and scenic St. Croix River! Join the FFA guide team as we experience a day and a half day of world-class smallmouth bass fishing while camping in Minnesota’s hardwood forest. 

The fish of 10,000 casts is only a trip away. Join Fishing For all on a muskie fly fishing adventure while camping near the shores of the river that holds our quarry. This trip includes two full days of fishing and learning how to fish for these incredible apex predators. 

**Dates and sign up’s coming soon for two new camps- Rainy River Sturgeon Camp (Spin Fishing) & Milwaukee Lake-Run Trout Camp. We’ll also do Louisiana Redfish and Ice Fishing Trips next winter!   

2023 Guided Fly Fishing Day Trips

Beginner Wade

Crash course in basic fly fishing! Learn how to cast, choose equipment, tie knots, select flies, read water and do some fishing. *2.5hr, $200 for 1-2ppl, $50 deposit.

Trout Wade

Wade a scenic trout stream in the Driftless area of Southeastern Minnesota or Western Wisconsin for wild brown and brook trout.

Bass, Pike, Musky Float

Float in a drift boat down the St. Croix or Mississippi River for aggressive smallmouth bass, northern pike, or muskies.

Carp Wade

Wade the Mississippi River and other urban waters to test your skills on the hardest fighting fish in freshwater, the common carp.  

Book your Guided Fly Fishing Day Trips Here!

Guide Trip Prices for 1-2ppl: 4hr $350, 6hr $450, 8hr $550

$125 deposit due at booking. *Please tip your guide.

Terminal tackle included on all trips. Hot lunch on 6-8hr trips. Wader rentals- $30/pair.

Additional anglers & large groups can be accommodated for an extra fee.

2023 Guided Spin Fishing Day Trips

Big River Bank Fishing

The excitement of big river bank fishing is not knowing what you’re going to catch. Cut bait and other options like worms, leeches, and minnows can catch anything from walleye to carp and catfish. Specifically, carp, catfish, and buffalo suckers are among the largest fish species in our Minnesota big rivers. In fact, there are plenty of fish above 15 pounds with the largest members ranging 30-50 pounds willing to battle it out on a rod! Join our guides on a monster quest fishing for Minnesota’s largest fish species!      

Book your Guided Spin Fishing Day Trip here!

Prices are for 1-4 people: 2.5hr $200, 4hr $300, 6hr $400. 

$100 deposit due at booking. *Please tip your guide.

Terminal tackle included on all trips. Hot lunch on 6hr trips. Wader rentals- $30/pair.

Additional anglers and large groups can be accommodated for an extra fee.

From the FFA Guide’s Tying Tables

FFA Guide Ricky Phetsavong takes us through thread control tips for the next time we sit at the tying bench. Hit the link to watch the video featuring our brand new FFA guide reel!

Cool Resources

MNDNR Lake Finder Mobile

    The Lake Finder Mobile app by the MNDNR is a great web app to check lake information by the MN DNR. They tell you the species that have been sampled in fishery surveys, the amount and size sampled of fish, and many other data points that will help you find the fish.

      Evan used this app this past weekend when we scouted new lakes for guided ice fishing trips. As guides, our goals to teach, educate, and entertain are best fulfilled when we know what waters we’re fishing, what to try, and where to go. This app is another indispensable option for Minnesota anglers!

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