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Day trip to Big Stone Lake

(February 11th, 2017) The day started with a visit to Artie’s Bait & Tackle in Ortonville. The friendly staff gave us info on the status of the bite, bait to use, ice conditions, and how to access the lake. Very helpful for my first time to Big Stone Lake!

We hit the Ortonville city access 1 mile north of town and started searching for our first spot. A tip from the bait shop suggested the fish would be finicky, so we tried our best to stay away from the crowds. After finding a nice open area, we made Swiss cheese of the ice and wet our lines. We fished primarily in 12-13 feet of water, which makes up the majority of the lake. Given the lack of structure in this range and the huge size of the lake, we stayed mobile in attempt to follow the schools or find roaming fish.

The first location produced a few quality fish. My first fish of the day was a treat; a 10” bluegill! The fish were definitely roaming. The key was to check the holes with the Vexilar and move on if fish were not spotted. Once located, you could usually pull 2-3 fish out of a hole before they moved on. After about 45-60 minutes in one area the action would die off and it was time to move. We covered about 6 miles worth of water on the day and ended up with a mixed bag of perch, crappies, and bluegills.

A waxie on a tungsten jig was a good universal bait. Euro larvae also landed a few fish, but not as many. Some bigger perch were had on setlines tipped with a live minnow. The perch and crappies would also hit spoons tipped with either a waxie or larvae.

Most perch were finicky and spooky with a few aggressive fish mixed in. The bluegills and crappies were quite aggressive once you got them to notice your bait. It was handy to keep a Cold Snap Outdoors Toothpick nearby as many of the aggressive fish inhaled the jig!

Key tips for the day:

  • Waxies seemed to be preferred

  • Live bait performed better over plastics

  • Small jigs worked best for bluegills

  • Almost every location had a population of mixed species

  • The 12-13 foot depth was most productive

  • Keep a Toothpick nearby

  • Drill a lot of holes and keep moving

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