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hanson

As Good as it Gets! Upper Red Lake!

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I'm not quite sure what to say here guys...

Simply put, I think last weekend was THE BEST FISHING I HAVE EVER HAD ON URL!!

Lots of folks online are complaining about the bite and not catching fish. Lots of folks are saying Red is not worth fishing. Lots of folks are saying its not like it used to be.

I'm here to disagree! smile.gif There is great fishing to be had but you may, err... WILL have to work for it, or just be the luckiest guy in the world. smile.gif

On last weekend's trip, FM ProStaffer Jeff Borchardt (Borch) was my guest at the ice shack. With my Slabfest II gathering coming up, we wanted to cover some water and try and find some fish to put some folks on next weekend. And we covered water, and we found fish!

I jumped out of the truck and took off one direction with my Strikemaster. Borch headed the other direction with his Nilsmaster. We had about 50 holes cut in the ice before we even wet a line. When the rods did come out, the very first hole I checked with my Marcum had a fish in it! I dropped my search lure, a Go-Devil spoon tipped with a minnow head and nailed a fish right off the bat!

Are you kidding me? First Hole! First Drop! First Crappie!

02-17-07%201st%20Drop%20Crappie.jpg

Beginner's luck did not exactly mean continued luck. That was the last crappie we caught for the next 2-3 hours. We moved from hole to hole fishing each hole about 5 minutes. If there were fish there, we caught them. Walleyes and perch were very aggressive as we moved around looking for crappies.

Then it happened... Borch hit the GOLDMINE!

I was about ready to move to a different area and walked over to see what Borch was doing. As I approached him, he was unhooking a crappie! He had the most excited look on his face as he said the crappies were stacked up under him. And he was not kidding. When I looked at his LX-5, there were 4-5 different, distinguishable fish on the locator. When he dropped his bait down, these crappies were not fooling around. It was a race to see who would eat first! They were flying up 4-6' above the bottom to eat his bait on the drop. Simply Unbelievable!

Wanting to get in on this action, I ran back to the truck, grabbed my gear, and moved in on Borch. It was game on! We proceeded to catch crappie after crappie after crappie. There would then be a lull in the action and they would move back in and it would be chaos again! I've fished many lakes where you run into roaming & feeding crappies and thats what was happening. These crappies were up in the water column, 3-4' off the bottom and cruising. They had one thing on their mind and that was eating! Because of this, our tackle selection was waaaaaayyyy beyond ordinary for URL!

What did we use for bait? 1 word.... PLASTICS!!!!!

The preferred plastic was a Berkley 2" Power Minnow rigged on a Little Atom Optic Jig. The crappies absolutely devoured this presentation! We also mixed it up a bit and caught them on CJ&S Ratsos (size 4) with no bait. We caught them on Little Atom Optic & Optic Stealth jigs rigged with Little Atom Nuggie plastics with no bait. And the lure that I'm still shocked about... Salmo Chubby Darter! We pulled a Chubby Darter out to see if the crappies would hit that and they did!

Chubby Darter Crappie!

02-17-07%20Chubby%20Darter.jpg

Power Minnow Crappie!

02-17-07%20Power%20Minnow.jpg

Saturday was simply an amazing day! We left the ice early (before dark) worn out from augering holes and fishing outside in the elements. We ended up catching 42 crappies on Saturday, we kept 18 (short of a limit) and C&R'd another 24 along with a ton of walleyes and perch. The crappies were all running 14 to 14 1/2" long. We might have had 2 that were 14 3/4" but none around that 15" mark.

Saturday's Catch! Who kept that one walleye?? smile.gif

02-17-07%20The%20Catch.jpg

The game plan on Sunday was to try and find some more areas that would be good locations for Slabfest II. We tried 2 different "general areas" and were getting worked over with maybe a walleye or two to show for our efforts. I really wanted to fish the area we fished previously, but we also wanted to find more fish for the Slabfest. It was tough, that is leaving a good bite to search for more fish. It finally got to the point where I wanted to try out yesterday's spot, and guess what? It produced again!

The difference between Saturday and Sunday was wind direction. Saturday was a N/NW wind and Sunday was a hurricane force wind from the South. We didn't want to do it but we had to set up the Otter shack to escape the wind. Sitting in one spot definitely impacted our catch rate on Sunday. We had to wait for the schools of crappies to move under us rather than chasing them around. The bite also happened much later than Saturday, Sunday was a traditional sundown bite for some reason. When we decided to quit, we had iced another beautiful 18 slab crappies. All of them released to be caught again by the Slabfest folks... hopefully!

After punishing ourselves on Sunday, we went back to the exact same spot on Monday morning to hopefully finish off the trip with some fast paced action! And fast paced action it was! My first 4 drops all produced fish, although the wrong species - darn walleyes! Walleye #1 was about 14". Walleye #2 was about 16". Walleye #3 was about 18". Walleye #4 went 20". And Walleye #5 snapped me off!! Darn! How big was it? I don't know about you guys but four walleyes in less than 5 minutes is serious fun fishing!!

I don't lose fish very often and I lost 3 on this trip, all very large fish. I'm positive one of them was a big pike as I did not have a chance against him. Ice in the line guides, frozen ice on my line, drag too tight. Snap! The other two had some very serious head shakes that stressed the 4lb line too much.

After I recovered from my third break off of the trip, I got back in the game and the crappies started to bite, although very tentatively. We had to resort back to the traditional approach of a jig & minnow to entice a few biters. I still jigged my Power Minnow in one hole while my minnow did his thing in the other. Most of the fish were very finicky. Lots of lookers, a few biters, and a few kamikazees that flew after that Power Minnow. smile.gif

We iced another 10 crappies Monday morning, kept 4, and released the rest.

Borch with a handful of Monday Morning Crappie!

02-17-07%20Borch%20Double.jpg

Hanson with a handful of Monday Morning Crappie!!

02-17-07%20Chris%20Double%202.jpg

I've got to tell ya... it was really hard to leave the lake on Monday. We ran into some of the most incredible fishing I have experienced in a long time. I think between the size and amount of walleyes we caught, and the aggressiveness and numbers of crappies, it was probably my best trip ever to URL in the winter. When I say ever, that is going back to the winter of 1999-2000 when I made my first trip up there.

I think the reason for our success was determination and hard work. We worked our butts off! We augered lots of holes, probably near 200 total for the weekend. We covered water! And we were rewarded with really aggressive fish. Thats the secret. You have to fish where the fish are and you have to be mobile to find them. When you find them, the reward is incredible!

We also switched up our tackle to what I would consider non-traditional URL tackle. I bet 80% or more of our fish were caught with absolutely NO BAIT, just plastics. We adjusted our techniques to what we were seeing on the Marcum flashers. When they were aggressive, plastics ruled and allowed us to fish faster and more effeciently. When the bite slowed down, my hands got cold messing around with minnows and keeping bobbers from icing in the holes.

The grand total was 70 crappies for 2 1/2 days fishing. 42 on Saturday, 18 on Sunday, and 10 on Monday morning. 18 total crappies were kept for dinner and the rest released to be caught again! I couldn't even tally a count for the walleyes. It was just as many if not more!

By the way... Walleyes love plastics and Power Minnows too!

Good Luck folks! I can't wait for next weekend & Slabfest!

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Sounds like a blast! your hard work paid off big dividends. Never fished URL before so I gotta ask, how did you settle on a location to start drilling? Can a guy just pick a spot off the beaten path, so to speak, and catch fish? How far were you from the shore?

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Awsome report.I would agree the fishing is as good or better the last few years.Our record for two guys filling out was 45 minutes last year the first week of march.It pays to have a few exta rigs ready for line breaks or knotted messes.Burl.

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Quote:

Sounds like a blast! your hard work paid off big dividends. Never fished URL before so I gotta ask, how did you settle on a location to start drilling? Can a guy just pick a spot off the beaten path, so to speak, and catch fish? How far were you from the shore?


I can answer a few of your questions... smile.gif

As far as picking a spot, I hate fishing anywhere near other people up there. I'm usually near them but far enough away as well to leave room for other anglers if they wish to encroach.

After that, its auger, auger, auger. 5 minutes in each hole. If there are no fish that show themselves, move to the next hole.

If nothing happens in that series of holes. I cut another series of holes. If that "area" is just dead. I'll pack up and make a big move, a mile or so and do it again.

The difference maker in my opinion is being able to fish outside. Last weekend, Tyler Holm and I got pinned down in the Otter houses because of the cold and wind. It was brutal. We had 1 crappie to show for that effort.

Not every trip of mine is like this. I hope for 1 a winter. Last winter, I had 1 good trip. This winter I've had 1 good trip and 1 bad trip. With 2 more trips to go, I'm hoping to keep the streak alive.

If the area that we fished gets run over with permanent shacks, which it easily could, I'll have to move to a different area and try again.

Pierbridge- No 15 Inchers frown.gif Pretty darn close though! One was over 14 3/4". Depending on how you pinched the tail, it was darn close! That was with its mouth shut as well. Heck, if I opened its mouth, it would have been a 15 1/2" smile.gif We released a bunch that I quickly measured at 14 1/2".

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Is it Friday morning and time to leave yet????


LOL! No Tom.

I've got my fingers crossed that we can get on them again. So much can change in 1 week that we might have to start all over.

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Quote:

apparently we can now post dead fish pice?


Here is the current Fish Pic Policy copied from Forum Policy-

"You agree to use the following guideline with respect to fish pictures: We're looking for fish pictures in good taste that encourage selective harvest principles so the dead fish rule is as follows: Fish pictures must be in the natural environment where the fish is caught that do not look frozen, stiff, bloodied or look like they were just poured out of a bucket and no stringer or fish in a bucket pics. Fish Mount and live release tournament pictures are ok as well. All other dead fish pictures are not allowed."

The staff have decided that multiple fish NEATLY ARRANGED on the ice are acceptable photos. They can't look like they were just poured out of a bucket.

What's critical about ice fishing photos are natural environment (fish house or on the ice), and that the fish are fresh looking, not frozen rock solid.

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Hanson, sounds like a awesome few days of fishing, good job cool.gif. One of these days its going to be nice enough for me to hole hop when I'm there. Seems to always be 20 below with a 30mph wind.

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My dad and I also made it to URL last weekend. It was a first for both of us. We were able to borrow a friends wheel house that was already on the lake. We were fully prepared to use it as a base camp and move around. Of course, we tried the house first and let me tell you, we didn't have to leave. 22 hours later, we left with 14 crappies between 12.5 and 15 inches and we lost track of how many walleyes we caught. Most likely about 35 between 10 and 22 inches. I had my line snapped by something pretty big and my dad did three times. We also caught a lone jumbo perch. We both agreed that it was the best ice fishing experience we have ever had and we did it in the comfort and warmth of a great wheel house. The action was almost non-stop and the highlight was a crappie triple. We also had a walleye double. We didn't want to leave. If we could have stayed longer, I know we would have continued to catch fish.

Fatheads with green, yellow, or orange jigs were the ticket. Anything that glowed was even more effective. Some walleyes with waxies. Spoons and my Salmo's were not effective at all. I also tried plastics, but had not luck with them. I can't wait to get back. Next year it will be less time on Mille Lacs and more time on URL. For me, there is no comparison. I don't think I can ever get used to the sight of those freakishly large crappies coming up the hole. Unbelievable. It was the best ice fishing experience either of us has ever had.

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hanson - JDM

sounds like you both had loads of fun. I am in love w/ those red lake crappies. I haven't caught nearly enough. I'll tell you what though, every crappie pulled out of that lake is the best fish i'll ever catch.

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What was the bottom depth where you were fishing, Chris, and how far off bottom were the fish you found?


We were in about 13 fow and we caught fish anywhere from 1-6 feet off bottom. Most were caught about 3 ft off bottom.

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Hey Hanson!.....WOW....congrats on the awesome trip. I love it when I hear about guys working hard to find the fish, and then get rewarded like that! You made a memory that you'll be looking back on for years to come.......Gregg

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Borch and Hanson,

It's great to finally hear someone with a GOOD post from URL. Good info and great fun!!! Congrats!!

Bruce Mosher

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Wow Hanson great job! Its amazing what some nice eather and hard work will do for a guy. Thanks for a positive Red Lake Report. I hope you all catch them during the slabfest.

Oh and keep a eye on Frank and Cheffrey. They are talking some crazy stuff lately. wink.gif

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Great report Hanson! Wow!

Why have I never been to URL, and why am I not going to Slabfest this weekend???

Hmmmm...

(BTW, I was at Mille Lacs over the weekend. It was...L.A.M.E.)

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Why have I never been to URL, and why am I not going to
Slabfest
this weekend???


Dude! Go! smile.gif

Slabfest will be like the Sturgeon Excursion on ice! Good times!

I can't guarantee we'll get on crappies like last weekend, that was a once in a lifetime trip for me. The weather is going to be different this weekend and I'm sure I'll have some permanent shacks to deal with in that area as well.

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Why have I never been to URL, and why am I not going to
Slabfest
this weekend???


I thought the same thing last year at this time. But I decided to make my first trip up there for Slabfest last year. I am hooked. Since then I have made 9 ice fishing trips up there. And I will hopefully have 3 more by the end of this season.

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