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Outdoors report: Fish biting as freeze approaches

A Minnesota angler holds a walleye before releasing it. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials are considering reducing the state's walleye limit from six to four. News Tribune file

Lake of the Woods

Open water fishing soon could be coming to an end with the onset of cold temperatures, but the anglers who continue to brave the elements are catching fish, Lake of the Woods Tourism reports in its weekly update.

Whether on the lake or the river, dropping an anchor and jigging with a shiner remains the go-to technique for putting walleyes in the boat. Some big fish have been reported, too, including a 33-inch, 14½-pound behemoth Daryl Lorenzen of St. Thomas, N.D., caught last weekend on the Rainy River on a pink jig and a shiner.

If the fall fishing is any indication, early-ice action should be great once the lake freezes.

Devils Lake

There aren't many people fishing these days, but Mark Bry of Bry's Guide Service said one of the guides was fishing Tuesday and boated several walleyes over 25 inches. So, there are good fish to be had for anglers who brave the elements.

If the cold weather holds, it won't be long before shallow bays begin to freeze. Safety is always paramount on the ice, and that's especially true after freeze-up, when ice thickness can vary drastically in just a small area.

Area waterfowl update

• Devils Lake area: Frigid weather across the Lake Region has resulted in a majority of frozen wetlands, some with size, reports Mark Fisher, district wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Devils Lake. Devils Lake and the deepest and largest wetlands still have pockets of open water, Fisher said, but they also will freeze very soon. Ducks remain in the area, however, Fisher said. Corn-feeding mallards and Canada geese are still present and abundant, and lesser scaup on the big water are likewise abundant, but for how long remains the question. Unless access permission is acquired in grain fields, hunting mallards and geese is over, Fisher advises. Diving duck hunting on big water should remain excellent as long as open water persists, he said. This will be Fisher's last waterfowl report of the season.

• Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area near Middle River, Minn.: Most of the ducks departed from Thief Lake on Monday night, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports in its weekly waterfowl update. Geese and mallards continue to use the sanctuary and fly out to feed in fields, in spite of several snowfalls. Thief Lake as of Tuesday had about 80 percent ice cover and success averaged only 0.6 ducks per hunter. Ringnecks remain the top duck in the bag.

• Roseau River WMA near Badger, Minn.: The area experienced a major migration of ducks Sunday when temperatures plunged, measurable snow fell and north winds were brisk. Scattered small flocks of mallards and diver ducks remain on the river, but geese are largely absent from the WMA. Access to the refuge pools is iffy given ice cover. The river remains navigable, though the oxbows are frozen.

-- Herald staff reports

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