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Northern Wisconsin Fishing Reports

Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report - March 20th, 2015

ASHLAND AREA

This report is about the Ashland side of Chequamegon Bay. The ice fishing is still good, but with temperatures in the 40s and 50s, it won’t last too much longer. This might be 

shutting down by this week. Call ahead. Travel conditions on the bay and to points north have been excellent, but the warmer weather forecast for the next week or so will bring some changes. Access points need to be checked carefully.

The large pressure crack that developed out at Second Landing has been an ongoing issue. Anglers should be extremely wary before venturing out from there or using it as a vehicle access point. ATVs are probably the best option now for travel to and from Second Landing. As always, conditions can change rapidly on Lake Superior. For your own safety and especially if you are unfamiliar with the area you will be fishing, check with a bait shop prior to venturing out on any ice.

Things in the bay proper are about the same as they have been, with a mix of perch, smelt, walleyes, and the occasional brown trout. Anglers have been picking up salmon and whitefish out toward the lighthouse, coho salmon in front of the coal dock, and walleyes near Second Landing. Expect the action to pick up quickly as the temperatures warm and fish start moving toward the shallows in the near future.

    Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.

    River Rock, (715) 682-3232.

BOULDER JUNCTION AREA

The snow may be gone in much of central and southern Wisconsin, but ice fishing is just getting going in the Boulder Junction area as a week of warm weather has cut into snow depths across the area. That just started to make lake travel a little easier as of March 11, when snow drifts that had blocked truck travel on lakes started receding to the point where fishermen could get around with their snowmobiles and ATVs. Panfish action has picked up, along with the temperatures.

    Northern Highland Sports Shop, (715) 385-2134.

CHIPPEWA FALLS / EAU CLAIRE / MENOMONIE AREA

Anglers are catching a lot of walleyes and a few northern pike and sturgeon (sturgeon have to be released) on the Red Cedar River below the Lake Menomin dam. The walleyes are running 16 to 28 inches. Panfish also are hitting below the dam. There was still 24 inches of ice on the lake last week, with some water on top of it. A lot of guys are still going on out on Lake Menomin for panfish.

Bait on Broadway, Menomonie, (715) 231-2194.

Buroker’s Taxidermy and Bait, Eau Claire, (715) 835-0847.

EAGLE RIVER AREA

We are finally getting some decent weather for the first time in many weeks here in the northwoods. The ice thickness is over 2 feet on many lakes, but deep snow drifts had made travel difficult in some places until the warmer weather hit last week.

Crappie fishing has been good and will improve with our warming March weather. These fish are located in their usual deep holes on most lakes and in the weeds on shallow lakes. Tip-downs rigged with minnows have been the best method for catching crappies. Electronics really help anglers figure out these fish at this time of year, as they can be right on the bottom or suspended many feet off the bottom. Set your minnow a foot or two above the depth you are marking these fish.

Perch action was pretty good last week. Minnows have been a very productive bait for nice perch. Wigglers also have been working well on lakes where perch are hanging over mud flats. Most perch have been caught in the 8- to 15-foot range, but every lake seems to have its own pattern at this time of year.

Bluegill action also has been decent. Waxies have been by far the bait of choice for these fish. You will find bluegills in the weeds and suspended over deep water.

    Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.

HAYWARD AREA

Crappie action is fair to good and improving. Fish are suspending over deeper water, sometimes over structure, so you might find them in a mix of areas. Anglers are making some nice catches once they locate the fish. Baits of choice include minnows, waxies, wigglers, plastics, and Gulp baits on tungsten jigs or plain hooks fished on tip-ups and tip-downs. Jigging Rapalas work well for larger crappies.

Bluegill fishing it getting better, and anglers report some decent action at various depths on flats, weedlines, and cabbage beds.

Perch action also is improving with the weather. Look for perch on mud flats, midlake bars, and along weedlines in midrange depths to deeper water. Use small jigs and jigging spoons tipped with waxies, wigglers, spikes, minnows, or minnow heads.

The Chippewa Flowage had about 22 inches of ice, and crappie anglers are doing well in the deep holes off Popple Island. Anglers less inclined to compete for spots can try the cribs off Pine Point, the shorelines off Menard’s and Moore’s bays, and Blueberry Flats.

Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.

Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.

PRICE COUNTY AREA

Ice depths on most lakes hit 22 inches with the last cold snap prior to last week’s warmer weather. Deep drifts made vehicle travel difficult, however, and snowmobiles remained the best travel method through early last week. That will change as the snow continues to melt.

Panfish action shows signs of improvement, with fair catches of crappies, bluegills, and perch being made last week. Good electronics are a key to finding panfish, and waxies, wigglers, and small minnows are all producing action. Look for panfish action to continue to improve with the longer days and increasing temperatures.

    Bridge Bait , (715) 762-4108.

    Ross’s Sport Shop, (715) 339-3625.

SIREN AREA

Guys were still driving out on the ice with trucks last week on most lakes. There was 30 inches of ice on Big Clam as of March 12. Panfish action has picked up, and guys are catching bluegills and crappies on most lakes, including Mud Hen and Big Clam.

    Big Mike’s, (715) 349-2400.

    Fur, Fin and Feathers Sports, (715) 349-8445.

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Central Wisconsin Fishing Reports

Central Wisconsin Fishing Report - March 20th, 2015

DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA

Whitefish action continues to stay strong and will continue to be good right up until the ice goes away. Areas that continue to produce good numbers of fish are Henderson’s Point, Sugar Creek, Larson’s Reef, and the vast structure north of the Old Stone Quarry. Jigs to have in the box are Swedish Pimples, Kastmaster spoons, Rapalas, and jigging Shad Raps, just to name a few. Tip jigs with wax worms, spikes, minnow pieces, or Gulp. And one of the biggest keys for success is to stay away from high-traffic areas with a lot of people.

Perch fishing closed March 15. And like normal, the perch action started to get a little better, like it usually does, just before the season closed. Prior to March 15, guys were catching perch at Chaudoir’s Dock, Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay, and in the Sturgeon Bay area.

Pike action continues to stay strong and should only get better as we move later into March. Good spots to set up are the same areas where the perch will be spawning. The best method is suspending suckers and golden shiners under tip-ups.

Walleye fishing is starting to really pick up, as it normally does closer to the spawn. Areas to focus on are Henderson’s Point, Sand Bay, Riley’s Bay, the Sawyer Harbor, and some of the steep, rocky shorelines to the north of the Stone Quarry. Odd Ball jigs, Rapalas, Moonshines, Puppet Minnows, and the new Hali all are very good baits. Tip jigs with lake shiners or fatheads. And if you run a couple of tip-ups, try a sucker set 1 to 2 feet off of bottom.

Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.

Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.

LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA

The Fox River was open on March 12, but there was still ice around the docks, along the shorelines, and at the landings. By this week, the river should be open. As of March 12, guys were still standing on ice and panfishing and walleye fishing on Lake Winnebago and Lake Poygan. That action had improved.

Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.

    Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.

    Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.

NEKOOSA AREA

The rivers are all open and guys are fishing. They’re starting to catch a few walleyes, but the rivers haven’t really kicked in yet. Guys were still taking ATVs out on the Petenwell ice for crappies and walleyes in the river channel. There was still 31 inches of ice on Petenwell as of March 12.

    Petenwell Sports, (608) 564 7707.

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Southern Wisconsin Fishing Reports

Southern Wisconsin Fishing Report - March 20th, 2015

GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA

The landing on the Fox River just opened, thanks to guys chopping holes just big enough to get boats in the water. The first guys used that opening to get out the evening of March 12. Ice fishermen had commented on improved walleye action just before the ice left the Fox River at De Pere.

    Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.

LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES

The warm, sunny days have caused some of the access areas to open up, especially where there was vehicle traffic, and near current or marshes. Bluegill action has picked up. Early morning or evening hours were the best times to fish bluegills. Using a portable shanty during sunny conditions will help “darken the light” to get finicky ’gills to bite. The best action was around weeds in 5 to 12 feet of water. A Ratfinkee, Moon Glitter, Marmooska, or teardrop ice jig baited with a wiggler, wax worm, spike, or plastic has produced.

Crappie fishing was great on area lakes last week during early morning and evening hours when they were found suspended above mid-depth weeds or over deeper water. Often these fish will only be a foot or two below the ice. Use tip-ups or tip-downs rigged with No. 14 treble hooks and baited with fatheads or rosy red minnows.

Perch were active in deeper water. Jigging lures such as a Slender Spoon, Swedish Pimple, No 3 Jigging Rapala, or Kastmaster baited with a spike or a piece of minnow attracted aggressive perch. A Rocker or Ratfinkee baited with a wiggler or a spike worked, too.

The rivers have started to open up for anglers looking to use “the long rods” in search of walleyes, sauger, and northern pike. Anglers have been fishing, mostly from shore, below the dams on the Wisconsin River at the Dells, Prairie du Sac, Castle Rock, and Nekoosa. The Rock River has some open water below the dams in Jefferson and Indianford.

    DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.

Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.

MADISON AREA

Lake Mendota perch fishing improved last week, with a few limits being caught. The ice is holding up yet, although the shorelines may be softening up by this week. Catfish were the big surprise last week. Guys were catching a lot of channel cats off of Governor’s Island on cut bait in 20 to 25 feet of water. Cameras helped them catch fish. Anglers also were catching perch off of Governor’s Island in 45 feet of water. More perch were found between Fox Bluff and Second Point in 60 to 70 feet of water, with some schools now suspending. 

Lake Monona is still the best place to fish for bluegills, with action in Monona Bay and the Triangle picking up last week.

Mud Lake is still producing a few nice bluegills and a few crappies. On Lake Waubesa, there has been some night crappie action between Rockford Heights and the Bible Camp. There has been no news from Lake Kegonsa.

    D&S Bait & Tackle, (608) 244-3474.

    Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.

MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA

Our break from winter’s cold came with high winds, making it tough to capitalize on the warm weather to fish panfish. With the forecast having temps in the 40s and 50s, it looks like there will be plenty of opportunity to ice fish without freezing.

Bluegills: Action has been good to very good. The best action has been early in the morning on waxies, mousies, and Chena bait on No. 3 and No. 4 Fiska jigs in 10 to 12 feet of water. Also try plastics in pink, red, purple, or maroon.

Yellow perch: Action has been fair to good. The best fishing is still a bit deep, 16 to 22 feet, over mud. Perch are rooting through these areas for mayfly larvae and blood worms. Use a No. 25 Hali, No. 2 Pimple, or No. 5 Fiska to get a wiggler (mayfly larvae) down quickly. Stirring up the mud is a good way to raise attention for bands of roaming perch. Tip-downs with are picking up perch over deep mud flats and a few fish along 8- to 12-foot weed edges. 

Crappies: Action has been fair to good. At times the action can be surprisingly soft considering the warm weather. The best times are before and after light in the morning, then again just before and an hour after dark in the evening. Tip-downs  and minnows have been the answer in 14 to 18 feet of water along transition zones. Most fish are still hanging just outside of the bays in 12 to 14 feet, with the fish moving into weeds and taking Lethal Cecils, Rockers, and VMC nymph jigs tipped with waxies, Chena, or plastics (silver, white, and chartreuse this weekend). For tougher bites, use Rembrandts and Purist jigs.

With snow still on the ice and ice thickness averaging 28 to 32 inches on most lakes, we still have some ice fishing to go, but with a forecast showing highs in the 40s and low 50s, we will lose the snow cover quickly, then start to lose the ice. One thing keeping ice on a while longer will be below-freezing nighttime temps.

    Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN AREA

Anglers were still fishing the backwaters through the ice last week for panfish. They weren’t saying much, but they must have been catching fish because they were buying a lot of bait. Word has it that guys were putting boats in at Genoa last week to start tracking down Mississippi walleyes.

    Stark’s Sport Shop, (608) 326-2478.

SAUK CITY AREA

As March 10, the ice was still good on most lakes in the area. Be cautious of the river channel on Lake Wisconsin, but ice on the bay was fine last week.

Crystal Lake bluegills and crappies were biting from dusk until dark on any kind of jig, but gold has been the best color. Most anglers were using wax worms. On Fish Lake, the bluegills were biting at and to the right of the boat landing. At the dam in town, there was one word, and that word was walleyes. They were up and active. Use a jig and minnow or a hair jig tipped with a minnow. Anglers also were catching lots of small sauger. Be careful releasing those fish. At Devils Lake, the DNR will be stocking about 15,000 brown trout in April.

    Wilderness Fish and Game, (608) 643-5229.

    McFarlane’s True Value, (608) 643-3321.

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