Fishing Report

Fishing Report:

Lake Vermilion Fishing

Report: Jake Hyppa: Hyppa Guide Service –

Week of December 19, 2022

Winter ice fishing is beginning to set up nicely on Lake Vermilion. Willing anglers have been able
to get out on safe ice conditions for nearly a month now and the fishing had been productive
for those willing to venture out. Ice conditions vary greatly with exposed areas in the large
basins of Head O’ Lakes, Wake-em-up, Frazer, and Big Bay have only seen ice cover for a little
more than 2 weeks while smaller inland bays have been frozen for nearly a month. Ice thickness
has been ranging from 7” to 12”, this is expected to increase with colder temperatures in the
upcoming forecast. A recent large heavy snowfall has littered both the east and west ends of
Lake Vermilion with extensive slush. The staked snowmobile trail that runs continuously from
the east to west ends of Lake Vermilion and provides guidance for those unfamiliar to the area
had plans to be staked, but the current slush conditions have prevented that. Snowmobilers are
encouraged to get out and pack the area this trail runs on. Around 8” to 16” inches of snow
cover is on the lake with heavy slush pockets. Looking ahead to the next week most daytime
highs are in the single digits to teens. Use contour mapping of Lake Vermilion to plan ahead and
spend less time drilling holes in cold temperatures. Recognizing pressure changes in the
forecast has increased success for both walleyes and panfish alike. A great way to tell when a
pressure change is coming looking at the forecast to find your typical ‘winter storm’. Fishing the
day prior or even hours before this pressure change occurs will help anglers capitalize on hitting
a bite window of aggressive fish.
Majority of walleyes being caught are from 14’ to 22’ of water. Although this is a wide range of
depths, success for wintertime walleyes often results in location rather than depth. Looking for
underwater troughs, sandbars, or shallow flats adjacent to deep water are areas where
walleyes drive baitfish in low light hours. U-shaped bays or shallow flats in between islands and
shore are good places to start fishing. Walleyes are being caught in less than 12’ of water in the
dawn and dusk hours on the East end of Lake Vermilion, while greater success is being found in
16’ to 20’ of water on the West end of Lake Vermilion. During the midday hours the walleye
bite has slowed down, but fish can still be found in 24’-28’ of water. Walleyes are being caught
over gravel and mud bottoms. The rock to mud transition zones will begin to get better as the
ice season moves on and various bug hatches occur attracting smaller baitfish. Jigging with ¼
oz. buckshot spoons tipped with a minnow head is a great main stay to producing wintertime
walleyes. Jig aggressively until a fish is marked and then slow down the presentation to get
them to commit. If numerous fish come in that fail to bite, try downsizing your presentation to
a large 1/16 th ounce crappie jig tipped with a wax worm. Sometimes downsizing baits are
needed to find success when a high-pressure system is in the area. This past week better
success was found on dead sticks tipped with a large rainbow or small sucker minnow on a #2
red hook with some split shot 8” to 10” above the bait.

Northern Pike
Most northern pike are relating to vegetation that is left from the summer months. Focusing on
large cabbage beds in 7’ to 12’ of water where forage and baitfish are present has been most
productive. Try to find a rock point or underwater structure that juts out into a known weed
bed. This is a great spot to find northern pike that are cruising along the shoreline. During the
lower light periods larger pike can be found off rocky points and sandbars adjacent to 20’ plus
of water. Large northern pike can occasionally be found in 35’ plus of water foraging on
whitefish or tullibee. Soaking large sucker minnows under tip ups or dark house spearing has
been most productive for northern pike.
Using 1/16 oz. tungsten jigs tipped with several wax worms or a small crappie minnow with a
1/8 oz. jig and bobber has been working well for both crappies and bluegills. Crappies have
begun to move away from the deep basin holes they set up in during early ice. Success can be
found working the edges of these deep holes in depths 2’ to 3’ shallow than what the maximum
depth of the deep hole is. Crappies are being found over mud bottoms right now. Although the
bluegill bite has been tough, those being caught are being found in any still existing weed
growth from the summer months in 8’ to 11’ of water. Finding small open pockets in weed
growth or fishing on the edge of the weed line is crucial to success. Using a 1/16 oz. tungsten
tipped with wax worms has been most productive. When you get on a school of bluegill jig 2’ to
3’ above of where the school is sitting as this separation will often deter smaller fish from
hitting your bait. Jumbo perch are still being caught in the same locations as walleyes. Once
most perch reach 10” they will begin to relate to deeper water and structure and can be found
with schools of walleye. Jumbo perch are being caught anywhere from 16’ to 24’ over both mud
and gravel bottom. Using a 1/8 oz. or ¼ oz. spoon tipped with several wax worms or a minnow
head has been most productive.
MN DNR Need-to-Knows
Please refer to MN DNR safe ice recommendations for walking and driving. Please note Lake
Vermilion’s walleye limit differs from the statewide limit. Lake Vermilion’s walleye limit is 4 fish,
with all walleyes 20” to 26” having to be immediately released. Lake trout season opens on
adjacent Trout Lake on December 31 st . Lake trout season for lakes outside or partially outside
the BWCA will open on January 14 th . Several parties have been found stuck in heavy slush
pockets in various spots on the lake, so caution is to be expressed until the conditions change.


Please refer to the MN DNR Fishing Regulations for a full set of rules and regulations for Lake Vermilion and the surrounding area.1

Lake Vermilion Big Fish Report

All fish were released unless designated by an asterisk (*).

Archived Years