Weather Forecast


PAUL NELSON COLUMN: Of deer, ice and gadgets

Paul Nelson

The first weekend of the rifle deer season is behind us, with a good opening weekend for many hunters in the Bemidji area.

Snow on the ground makes it easier for hunters to see the deer signs, so hunters know where the deer have been moving at night. The full moon this past weekend gave the deer plenty of light to see at night, with the deer actively in the rut over the weekend.

The snow cover also makes it easier for hunters to trail deer through the woods after they shoot, to be able to see if their shots hit the mark. Nobody wants to see a deer get lost because the hunter was unable to track the animal.

The rifle deer season remains open until Nov. 17 in most of the Bemidji area. Hunters should check the regulations for the zone and area they are hunting for full details.

Many of the larger lakes were still open over the weekend, but some of the small shallow lakes should begin to freeze this week.

The extended forecast is predicting daily highs to stay below freezing this week, with overnight lows predicted to reach single digits a couple of nights this week.

Once the lakes freeze from shore to shore, the lakes will begin to make ice more quickly. Some of the local lakes that freeze early include Upper Red Lake, Lake Irving, Three Island Lake, Blackduck and any other lake that has a shallow average depth.

There are many new innovations on the market every ice fishing season for anglers to try. One of the best innovations the past few years has been the ice auger bits made to fit in an electric drill.

The model drills that work best for an ice auger bit are those with a lower gear, which is essential, so the drill does not burn out the electric motor while drilling holes through the ice.

The drills are bits are light, quiet, very portable and don’t involve gas or propane, which makes them great for transporting and a breeze to use.

Most of the bits for ice fishing have cutting blades rather than chipping blades, so there are some suggestions to extend the life of the blades.

Cutting blades need to be used on clean ice, with no debris or dirt in the ice. Clean ice cuts easily, while dirty ice will dull the blades prematurely. Anglers should also drill new holes every time, rather than re-drilling old holes, which will extend the life of the blades significantly.

Anglers wanting to use an ice auger for re-drilling holes need to use a chipper blade, which is not as dependant on the sharpness of the blade to drill holes in the ice.

There are always many new products for ice fishing each year, with many different companies making new lures, jigs and other gadgets designed to make ice anglers lives better.

Tungsten lures have been hot items in recent years. Tungsten weighs more than lead, so tungsten lures can be smaller and have the same weight as lead.

The clear water in the lakes during the winter makes it important for anglers to go light and small if they want to fool finicky fish. Lead jigs and lures don’t fall as quickly as tungsten lures, so they have slower drop rates.

The number of fish anglers catch is often dependant not only on getting more bites, but it also depends on how fast anglers are able to get their baits back to the active fish when they are below their hole and biting.

When anglers are shopping for ice fishing tackle, the size of the hook is also an important factor. Tiny lures with larger hooks will hook and hold fish much better than tiny lures with tiny hooks.

Anglers should look for jigs that have a larger hook, which will help hold soft mouthed fish like crappies better. Anglers can also look for lures with treble hooks on a split ring, so they can upgrade the hooks if necessary.

Paul A. Nelson runs the “Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service.” He can be contacted at

Paul Nelson
Paul Nelson writes a weekly fishing column for the Bemidji Pioneer. He runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service.