By Dan Johnson

As walleye action tapered off in recent days, a mixed bag of beefy panfish and northern pike top today’s fishing report from Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake.

Longtime guide Mike Christensen of Hunter Winfield’s Resort out of Isle says perch are the prime draw, and are in 29 to 34 feet of water on the northwest side of the lake, as well as in deeper holes on the south end.

Lindy Frostee Jigging Spoons tipped with waxworms or a minnow head remain a hot ticket for triggering perch.

“If you do a lot of hole-hopping you can put together a nice catch,” he says, noting that many fish run 9 to 10 inches, with jumbos to 13 inches possible on any given jig stroke. Tullibees are also showing up in deeper water, too, hitting a variety of small jigs, spoons and dropper rigs.

Mille Lacs’ weedy bays continue to produce solid pike action, with many fish in the 30-inch range and occasional gators topping 40.

“And the best is yet to come,” says Christensen, predicting that an influx of hungry prespawn fish will fuel even faster action as February marches on. Tip-ups baited with live sucker minnows are top presentations, but active jigging a large Lindy Darter or Rattl’n Flyer Spoon is accounting for fish, too, and is also a great way to lure curious pike close to your party’s setline spread.

A short cast from the main lake, crappie action remains solid on smaller lakes for fish suspended over 30 or more feet of water. Christensen favors small Rattl’n Flyer Spoons, Frostee Jigging Spoons and Tungsten Toads tipped with waxies, or in the case of the spoons, a minnow head.

Diehard Mille Lacs walleye fans should focus on 28 to 34 feet of water and during low light and at night. Christensen recommends a shiner, chub or small sucker minnow rigged on a Lindy Frostee Jig under a float or rattle reel. He also notes that a few openings exist in the resort’s fleet of sleeper houses for Valentine’s Day, for anglers looking for a romantic getaway on ice.