Fishing early ice on Upper Red Lake has always been somewhat of a “bucket list” item for me. This year we decided to make it happen and contacted Pat Frost who owns Alpine Fish House Rentals to see if we could get on the lake’s famous first ice walleye bite. We scheduled this trip less than two weeks out, and while the lake was still mostly open. The weather conditions looked favorable for ice, but Pat insisted that we stay in touch every few days to make sure the trip would still be on due to wind moving the ice sheet. It wasn’t until about four days out that we knew we would for sure be able to safely get on the lake.
We called Pat when we were about an hour out asking where to find bait and what to pick up. He suggested a local bait shop and said he would get the house warmed up for our arrival. We finally arrived and met Pat in the bar at Roger’s Resort. Alpine Fish House Rentals runs out of Roger’s, which is on the southeast end of Upper Red Lake. Pat greeted us with open arms and gave us a quick tour of the shack, fish cleaning house, and resort. We also got a quick fishing report from Pat, who told us the bite was excellent. He said he thought we would likely limit out in less than two hours even with our group of six. The shack we stayed in was a six-person shack, which included a two-burner propane cook top, radio, battery powered lights, a small table with chairs, and a propane heater. Due to the thin ice the shack was located on shore, only about twenty feet from the edge of the lake. We got ourselves set up for the night and made plans to meet with Pat in the morning to get out on the ice.
The boys with a few nice walleyes
In the morning we got our sleds loaded up and met with Pat at our shack so he could get us out on the ice. He hauled our gear with an ATV about a ¼ mile onto the ice, which was up to a large crack that could only be crossed by foot. He pointed out a few areas where he said the fish would be and we took off across the ice. We set up on his suggested location and it wasn’t five minutes before we had fish on the ice. The action was fast and furious to say the least. In less than ninety minutes we had thirteen keepers and decided to call it a morning so we could keep some fish during the evening bite.
We headed back to the shore for lunch and met up with a fellow member of "The Walleye Challenge" fishing tournament who was also on Upper Red Lake that day. A short time later we headed out for the evening bite with only a few fish to catch before we finished up our limit. We ended up finishing up our six-man limit of fish before sunset and got back to the shack just as it was getting dark. The fishing was still unbelievable, but their mood had definitely changed. The bite changed from a jigging presentation in the morning to set lines during the evening. Pat told us that meant it was time to move, and gave us another couple options for catching fish the next morning.
We took his advice and moved about 2/3rds of a mile out to some deeper water. This turned out to be a great move for us as we ran into a much larger class of fish. Our set lines were still putting the majority of the fish on the ice for us, but we were consistently catching 16-20 inch fish with nothing under 14 inches the whole day.
After our second day on the ice we got to catch up with Pat for a while on shore. He explained that he has been working for outfitters on Upper Red Lake for several years, and just had the opportunity to run Alpine Fish House Rentals this year. He has lots of entertaining stories about fishing as a kid with his dad using some pretty innovative techniques, to being an “extra” in the movie Grumpy Old Men. He is a genuine guy with a big smile who really loves getting people on fish.
Our experience with Alpine Fish House Rentals was better than we could have asked for. We had great fishing, excellent accommodations, and an outstanding outfitter to top it off. I would highly recommend Alpine Fish House Rentals if you are looking to get out on Upper Red Lake.
Here’s how you can contact Alpine Fish House Rentals to experience this amazing walleye fishery.