By Dan Johnson

Multispecies hardwater action remains solid on Minnesota’s section of Lake of the Woods. Nick Painovich of Zippel Bay Resort reports the deep mud bite has been taken over by tullibees in recent days, while mid-range and shallow depths continue kicking out a fine mix of walleyes, saugers, perch and pike.

“We’re shifting our walleye and sauger anglers away from the deep mud into 24 to 28 feet of water,” he says. “Catches are running 75 percent saugers up to 14 and 15 inches long, with the occasional nice walleye coming in as well.”

Painovich noted that the stretch from Zippel Reef to Graceton Reef has been particularly productive, with bonus perch in the 10-inch class not uncommon.

He cautions walleye and sauger fans to tone down their presentations, though.

 “Downsize as much as you can,” he said. “Fish tight to the bottom with a small, glow-pink Lindy Frostee jig tipped with a small minnow. Lift it a couple of inches once in awhile, but otherwise let it sit.”

Mornings and evenings, the shallow bite is also an option for walleyes in 14 to 17 feet of water.

“The east side of Zippel Reef has been very good in the evening,” he notes. “We’re seeing tullibees and the occasional big pike there, too.”

For shallow walleyes, more active presentations such as aggressively jigging Lindy Darters have been accounting for their share of good-sized catches.

Painovich notes that a monstrous 45-inch pike was taken recently, along with countless fish in the 30-inch class, and predicts that the Lake of the Woods pike bite will only get better as more prespawn fish gravitate toward the shorelines off Zippel Bay. Lindy Rattl’n Flyers, Darters and Slick Jigs are deadly on pike, as are sucker minnows under tip-ups.