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First Ice Walleye Fanaticism

BEMIDJI, Minn. – 34-year-old Cory Ewing has operated Waubay Guide Service for 13 years. “We are a fulltime guide service for both open and hard water. On the ice, we run five SnoBears every day from early December through the second week of March,” comments Ewing.

Ewing and his guiding posse spend time on various flooded potholes in this region that stretches from North Dakota all the way down to Brookings, South Dakota. “These potholes started flooding in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and so far, we’ve seen high water record years every three to five years, so the lakes haven’t shown any sign of letting up.”

As far as the fishing is concerned, the area will get a peak high-water year, and three to four years later, bites can be epic as increased flooded vegetation, spawning areas and places for forage to thrive establish themselves. This causes spikes when walleye, perch, and pike fishing is simply extraordinary.

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“Our lakes are shallow, and we catch walleyes shallow all season long. For example, anglers typically think of fishing walleyes deep in the late fall, but we’ll still be targeting weedbeds in four to seven feet of water. Even in the wintertime, we fish openings in weed-patches in just five feet of water. You can legitimately sight fish walleyes and perch all day long. This creates a great opportunity outside of how most anglers fish for walleyes and perch.”

For anglers venturing out to South Dakota’s Glacial Lakes region, the two front runners are Waubay and Bitter Lake. “They’re the two most famous ice fishing lakes in the state,” adds Ewing. “They haven’t done a survey in several years, but I’d venture to say that we’re pushing 40,000 acres between the two bodies of water. We also have a mess of little sloughs and prairie potholes. Dry Lake 1, Dry Lake 2, and Dry Lake 3 all offer phenomenal walleye fishing. You’re basically looking for weeds and flooded roadbeds that can be located by simply using Google Maps and topographical maps on your cell phone. Simple mapping will show where some great structure and habitat.”

He also recommends State Waterfowl Production areas and State Game Production waters—unassuming puddles that offer great fishing opportunities.

northland First Ice Walleye Fanaticism forage minnow spoon

When it comes to presentations to catch fish in his region, Ewing says there’s one bait that consistently produces from first ice through the end of the season—the Northland Forage Minnow Spoon. “For so many years, the Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon got all the attention and the Forage Minnow Spoon was less talked about. But for fish looking for a thinner, less bulky profile and don’t want the banging and clacking aspect of a rattle, the Forage Minnow Spoon is a deadly bait that we fish all season.”

Ewing opts for lighter line when fishing the Forage Minnow, typically running 4-lb. ice mono. He recommends a lighter rod and reel set up with a fast tip as well.

“We’re looking for aggressive fish. Not wiggling a little jig for finesse biters. I like to tell my customers that we’re after dumb fish, because I’m not a very good angler. We’re not fishing for walleyes and perch you’ve got to sweet talk.”

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Color-wise, Ewing opts for vibrant baits. He’s a fan of the Super-Glo Perch in the Forage Minnow Spoon. “That’s the one I tie on all year, and it consistently produces out here,” volunteers Ewing. “Firetiger is another good pattern. We’re not using natural, finesse type patterns—the bait must stick out and grab the fish’s attention.”

Parting Words

The Dakotas continue to produce fish every day of the ice season so make your plans now! Take into account what these three knowledgeable anglers have divulged, and you’ll be well on to the making of some great, new ice fishing memories! You can reach guide Cory Ewing at www.waubaylakeguideservice.com.

While the new Glass Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon is molded from metal, it features a realistic and translucent “Glass” baitfish pattern. A noisy, high-pitched glass rattle chamber—something the fish haven’t heard before—in tandem with the highly-reflective patterns lure fish in from a wide radius. It thumps, ticks, clicks and clatters and rings an immediate dinner bell for jumbo perch, slab crappies, walleyes, bass, trout and pike. The way it flutters, flashes and rattles entice fish to investigate and bite…

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ABOUT Northland® Fishing Tackle

In 1975, a young Northwoods fishing guide named John Peterson started pouring jigs and tying tackle for his clients in a small remote cabin in northern Minnesota. The lures were innovative, made with high quality components, and most importantly, were catching fish when no other baits were working! Word spread like wildfire, the phone started ringing… and the Northland Fishing Tackle® brand was in hot demand! For 40 years now, John and the Northland® team have been designing, testing and perfecting an exclusive line of products that catch fish like no other brand on the market today. Manufactured in the heart of Minnesota’s finest fishing waters, Northland® is one of the country’s leading producers of premium quality jigs, live bait rigs, spinnerbaits and spoons for crappies, bluegills, perch, walleyes, bass, trout, northern pike and muskies.

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