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Fish report: Walleyes slowing as anglers switch to panfish

Many anglers are starting to make the move to targeting panfish as the normally strong walleye bite in December gives way to a bit of a lull in January.

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“What we’re seeing is pretty normal for this time of year,” Dana Freese of Christopherson Bair said on Monday morning. “Guys are switching from walleyes to panfish. Typically the walleye bite slows down in January in the area and that’s what we’re seeing. Although guys are still catching some on the bigger lakes. A lot of times the best walleye bite is in December but a lot of big fish get caught around the full moon in January and then it’s kind of quiet after that.”

The dangerously cold temperatures that hit most of the state on Monday and Tuesday don’t help the bite but an expected warm up to almost 30 degrees by Friday could get things going again.

“That’s been going on all winter,” Freese said. “We’ve had four, five days of cold followed by three halfway decent days and another three days of cold. It seems like from talking to people coming into the store that what’s happened is fishing is good when it warms up, especially the night before it gets cold again. Then during the cold, things slow down. We’ve kind of been in that cycle ever since the ice came as far as how the fish bite.”

Where anglers are finding those panfish depends a lot on what lake they are on.

“It’s more like they’re fishing these holes in the basins,” Freese said. “On one lake that might be 16 feet and another that might be 40 feet, but the crappies spend a lot of time suspended out over the deeper basins in the lake this time of year. It’s pretty standard stuff – light line, small glow jigs, tipped with a crappie minnow or a wax worm. A lot of times evening is best for the crappies; although a lot of guys have been catching them during the day as well.”

The anglers who are still going after walleyes also have to be able to adjust from day to day.

“Some are still along those weed edges, some have started moving deeper,” Freese said. “I’ve heard guys fishing as deep as 30 and 40 feet on some of those bigger lakes. Then again, other guys have been telling me they have to be really close to the edge of the weeds too. It kind of depends on the lake and the day.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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