Chester Woods, in southeast Minnesota, is near the city of Rochester. The region is rich with ice-fishing opportunities and anglers can catch multiple species in a single day. Chester Woods is a park created for flood control in the Rochester area. The project included the building of a dam and the reservoir has become recognized as a quality fishery.
Chester Woods is home to large-mouth bass, catfish and panfish. The bluegill in the lake are the most abundant for ice fisherman and are typically targeted over bass and catfish. The bass and catfish can be caught but the fish are very sluggish and require extreme patience. The panfish or bluegill, provide consistent action through the ice and are valued for the quality of the meat. The cold winter waters give the white flesh a high culinary value and anglers can easily preserve the fish by simply tossing them in the snow.
Bait and jig fishing are the most common ice techniques at Chester Woods. The fish can usually be found between 5-20 feet of water and the grab is usually soft. Bright days require jigs in white, red, chartreuse and black while dark days and fishing at dusk requires jigs in black, white and blue. Glow-in-the-dark jigs are also very effective in low light conditions and deep water. Very little movement should be applied to the jigs because the fish are sluggish and quick motions will cause them to miss the lure. Bait fisherman have success with worm segments less than an inch long and powerbait in orange, white, rainbow and chartreuse.
Rules and Regulations
Chester Woods is a park and requires special permits for entry. All anglers must possess a current Minnesota fishing license and pay a park fee. The park fee is $5 for each day or $25 for an annual permit. Senior citizens can receive a discount of $5 on the annual fee. The park has a campground and handicapped access on the lake but the campground is closed by early October and the access can become covered with ice in the winter. Ice-fishing anglers are allowed to keep 20 bluegill each day with no size restrictions.
Article Written By Zach Lazzari
Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writing specialist. He has experience in website writing as well as standard newspaper writing. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and articles for Colorado-mountain-adventure.com. Lazzari is currently completing his bachelor's degree online through Arizona State University and lives in southwest Montana.