Chippewa National Forest
Explore the hundreds of small lakes in the Chippewa National Forest just after freeze-up this year and you’ll discover fantastic fishing for bluegills and crappies. Many lakes to which access is difficult during summer are easy to reach with a snowmobile. Armed with electronics, anglers can team up to find active fish. If one lake doesn’t pan out, there’s always another nearby. Better your odds by researching lake survey information on the Minnesota DNR’s Web site, says Walker-area guide Chip Leer. Here you’ll find results of the latest gill-net surveys and maps of the lake and surrounding area. Search for promising lakes in close proximity to one another. When on the ice, seek out weed lines and deep holes, as both attract panfish. Ultralight line matched with fluorescent ice flies or micro-jigs are the ticket. Tip your hook with a waxie, maggot or minnow head to draw strikes from hesitant fish. Contact: Walker Guide Coalition (218-547-3212); Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (651-296-6157 or 888-MINNDNR; www. dnr.state.mn.us).