There is still plenty of ice on Chequamegon Bay and anglers are still ice fishing out there. Daytime temps are going to be in the 40s this week, but overnight lows are still dropping below freezing. Call ahead for an ice condition report. Conditions can change rapidly depending on the weather. Fishing has remained steady on both sides of the bay, with a mixed bag of browns, splake, whitefish, trout, perch, walleyes, northerns and smelt being caught. Beware of pressure cracks. Conditions can change around pressure cracks. Areas next to the stream mouths have seen steelhead, brown trout and cohos.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
The shorelines are holding up, actually improved some with the colder weather, and there’s still 24 to 30 inches of ice on local lakes. Only one or two anglers a day have been heading out each day, and panfish reports have been poor.
Sharp-tailed grouse viewing at the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area has been postponed because of the weather. Normally viewing blinds are available April 1 through May 31, but a lot of snow has to melt before the sharptails will begin displaying. Anyone interested in viewing sharp-tailed grouse, may sign up on the calendar available at www.fnbwa.org.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
The Sturgeon Bay canal has been producing some northern pike and brown trout for anglers trolling and shore fishing with spoons and crankbaits. Boaters in the canal must watch for floating ice depending on the wind direction. The area of the canal west of the Michigan Street bridge still has a lot of ice. No walleyes have been reported yet.
Boat landings on the Lake Michigan shore are all open and a few anglers have been out in search of browns. There was a good brown bite in Baileys Harbor, with good numbers of fish and a couple over 10 pounds. Natural colors in dirty water was working best. West winds have since blown the dirty water out making the bite difficult. A few browns have also been caught from the piers. Steelhead fishing has been picking up with anglers having success fishing spawn in the creeks. Heins Creek has been a popular spot.
At the Algoma ramp, brown trout catches picked up, with most folks coming to shore with good numbers. The best bites seemed to be on anything chartreuse.
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
The ice is holding steady. As a matter of fact, the lakes in this area are probably making ice with below-freezing weather occurring at night. There’s as much as 30 inches of ice on many lakes, and it’s getting thicker.
The snow thickness has kept most anglers from going out to get in some ice fishing. Some anglers have been using extensions for their augers. There is some ice fishing still in store, but some melting would help to get snow thickness down a little. Even on cold days, when the sun shines it still does some needed melting. Believe it or not, the best crappie fishing of the winter is still ahead. As the ice gets closer to the melt, and as fresh water gets into the lakes from the shorelines, crappies will move into the weeds in 6 to 12 feet of water each evening to feed. This is a very precise and predictable pattern. On smaller lakes, look for green weeds if you can find them. As the sun hits the treetops in the evening, the fish will be in feeding very actively.
As for ice-out perch fishing, it looks as though things are going to happen quickly when it happens – anglers will have to fish from shore in any open water between shore and the ice pack, or try to sneak a boat into any open-water seams because the perch will move in as soon as any open water is available. The 10-day forecasts still show 30s and low 40s for temps right through April 20, with nighttime lows below freezing.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
FLORENCE COUNTY AREA
There is still plenty of ice on the lakes in the area. Some of the rivers have started to break up, but fishermen are still reporting two feet of ice or more on most inland waters. A slow warm-up is expected into next week, along with some possible rain and snow, but the nights will still be below freezing. As always, please use caution on the ice. Conditions can change very quickly. Crappie action has picked up. Fishermen are reporting some nice catches on wax worms, minnows and rosy reds. The bluegill bite has been fair with mostly smaller catches thus far. Try using small jigs tipped with waxworms.
Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
Fox River water temperatures have been staying relatively cool, which in turn has been keeping the walleyes in deeper water. There have still been hundreds of shore anglers and boaters out to catch a trophy walleye. The fairgrounds and Fox Point saw high numbers of boaters on the warmest days, along with shore anglers at Voyager Park. Numerous whitefish have been caught while shore angling at Voyager.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
Perch continue to be caught at Grindstone Lake, Lake Lac Courte Oreilles, and Round Lake in 10 to 20 feet. Look for crappies and bluegills in 6 to 20 feet (depends on the lake) at Spring Lake, Nelson Lake, Lost Land Lake, and the Chippewa Flowage. Overall, panfish success remains good, but travel on the ice remains difficult due to deep snow and slush. Still, anglers who are getting on the ice report decent success. The extended forecast for mid-April until the May 5 opening weekend is indicating somewhat warmer temperatures. The question is if it will warm up soon enough to melt the thick ice covering the lakes.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
IRON COUNTY AREA
Around most of the county there is still 16 to 22 inches of snow and 16 to 26 inches of ice on most lakes. However, channels within waterbodies seem to be thinning and inlets/outlets of lakes continue to open up.
Turtle River Trading Co., Mercer, (715) 476-0123.
LA CROSSE AREA
Walleyes, including bigger numbers of larger fish, and more saugers are hitting on the Mississippi River. A jig and minnow or blade baits are working best – work 14 to 18 feet for numbers of fish and along the shorelines for bigger walleyes.
Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.
Bob’s Bait and Tackle, (608) 782-5552.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
The Sheboygan River has been producing decent numbers of steelhead and the occasional brown trout, primarily around the Kohler dam area, but fish can be found throughout the river. Several steelhead and brown trout were caught by fly fishermen, who were mostly drifting spawn sacs off of Indiana Avenue, between the Hwy. 43 overpass and the Taylor Street bridge.
Pressure at the Port Washington ramp was very low. One fisherman caught one brown of about 4 pounds on a crankbait in 20 to 30 feet of water. Due to recent rain and windy conditions, the harbor has become considerably murky but is producing a few small browns and the occasional steelhead for persistent anglers. The bait of choice is spawn fished on the bottom; however, one small coho was caught by an angler using wax worms. Although fishing has been reported as slow, good numbers of steelhead are being spotted throughout Sauk Creek.
At the Milwaukee River, most of the fishing pressure is happening at Kletzch Park with a few anglers also fishing Hubbard Park. At the Menominee River, anglers were only seen fishing behind Palermo’s and off Canal Street by Miller Park. Spawn sacs and tube jigs tipped with wax worms produced very little action even though anglers reported seeing fish making their way upstream.
The Root River continues to be heavily fished, with the highest level of pressure in Lincoln Park. While weather conditions have yet to improve, anglers who brave the elements have been able to experience some success. Steelhead remains the top target and successful catches have been reported along Lincoln Park, Washington Park and Island Park. Most anglers have had success with spawn sacs and fly rods.
Now is also the time to target walleyes on the rivers. The Rock River in Jefferson and Fort Atkinson have produced walleyes, saugers and a few catfish. Anglers caught the most fish near deeper holes, while larger females were caught in shallow water seeking areas to spawn. The Rock River is also producing a few crappies in the wood or near fallen trees.
Most of the area lakes are ice free. It’s time to hit the water for panfish. The key to catching panfish in the spring is to look for the warmest water along with green weeds. Prevailing winds will help determine which part of the lake to look for the warmest water. During warm, sunny days, bluegills and crappies may move into shallow bays, channels, and marsh areas in search of warm water and food. When panfish are in these shallow areas, use a trolling motor and make long casts so you don’t spook the fish. Afternoon and evening hours are the best times to fish because the water will be warmest.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
Anglers are starting to get out on Lake Winnebago a little bit, but most of the attention has been on walleyes in the river. They’re catching a lot of walleyes in the river, but there hasn’t been much for size except for around the mouth of the river on Lake Winnebago. Anglers have been finding perch in the channels and near the creek mouths.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.
The lakes are open; fishing on the north end of the chain has been a little slow for crappies and bluegills. Anglers found a few perch on Cherokee Marsh. The Monona Bay area is giving up a few bluegills during the day and a few crappies towards dusk. Everyone is waiting for the water temperatures to warm up even a little bit. Most guys are heading to Prairie du Sac for walleyes, or the Mississippi River for big perch.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
Marinette County first-time turkey hunters found some success during learn-to-hunt events. Woodcocks are still being seen using low creek bottom areas even with snow still on the ground. Turkeys are still in large winter flocks. A few walleyes are being caught in the rivers and some anglers are still ice fishing at Lake Noquebay. The north shore has deteriorated quite a bit and most fisherman seemed to be accessing off of Oak Lane.
Hook, Line and Sinker, (715) 854-2073.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Winter keeps flexing its muscle, putting cold and snow all over spring and hopes for a good opener. Temps below zero on April 8 and a fresh blanket of snow have slowed fishing. Signs of stress on smaller lakes due to lack of sunlight has hampered angler success.
Bluegills action has been fair, with few anglers venturing out due to weather. Stay clear of the smaller lakes (low oxygen?) while larger lakes and mid-sized lakes with access to deep water or moving water have been the best.
Yellow perch fishing is fair. Snow cover is pushing most perch back out a bit deeper for now.
The crappie bite has been fair to poor for this time of year. Fish are lethargic. Tip-downs with minnows will work, but when fish are tight-lipped, use small No. 10 jigs tipped with small plastics to pry open some lips.
Average ice reports are running anywhere from 24 to 36 inches. The snow has to melt before the sun can start working on the ice. No one knows for sure, but as of right now, don’t bury your tip-ups before the opener, you might need them.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
The weather continues to challenge Price County wildlife with snow depth and cold temperatures. Snow depth is between 20 and 24 inches. Last year’s deer fawns are beginning to show signs of stress. Thin ice on rivers is a risk for wildlife. Some segments of the Flambeau River are open, some are not. The snowshoe hare and weasel coats are beginning to turn brown. Otter sign has been seen next to Connors Lake. Kestrels and hawks have been hovering at road sides and open areas looking for prey, and eagles for prey and carrion.
Bridge Bait and Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108.
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.
Accesses remain intact and main lake ice is still 24 to 30 inches thick. Fishing reports have been OK with a mixed bag of panfish being taken in 6 to 15 feet on Big McKenzie Lake, Lower McKenzie Lake, Rice Lake and Potato Lake.
AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011.