By Dan Johnson

Minnesota’s Upper Red Lake continues to produce walleyes at a pace that’s hard to match, but Lindy pro staffer Jonny Petrowske reports that your best odds of icing eater-size fish are increasingly coming in shallow water.

“The deeper bite has been going for some time now, in 11 to 14 feet of water, but we’re starting to see better numbers of the 16½-inch keepers coming from 6- to 8-foot depths,” he says, explaining that’s it common for Red Lake walleyes to transition from open water to rock- and shore-bound structure come midwinter.

As a result, adventurous anglers heading out to offshore fishing grounds are often bypassing promising areas.

“A lot of people are driving over a lot of fish on their way to the middle of the lake right now,” Petrowske said. He notes that noise is a factor wherever you’re fishing, however. “Deep or shallow, the fish are sensitive to traffic and commotion,” he warns. “The farther you can get from everybody else—and the quieter you are—the better you’ll do.”

Petrowske reports that a presentational transition is also under way on the big lake.

“The fish are in an aggressive mood, and swimming lures like the Slick Jig are coming on strong,” he says.

One of his favorite setups is a 1/8- or 3/16-ounce Slick Jig in shades of Red Glow, Rainbow or Green Glow, tipped with a fathead. Shiners and rainbows work, too, he said this morning, but you just don’t need them. Give the jig a couple of good hard lifts and then let it come back to center.

“A lot of times fish hit right as it’s settling.”

If ’eyes look but don’t touch, he drops the Slick Jig to bottom and mimics a feeding minnow, then quickly darts it upward a foot and resumes his jigging cadence. He said the Slick Jig works any time, but are really shining during the daytime.

“Toward sunset and at night, a Lindy Foo Flyer is another great choice, thanks to its slower, gentler action,” he says, adding that he chooses Foo Flyers in similar sizes and colors as he does when tying on a Slick Jig.