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Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report – January 9th, 2015

CHIPPEWA FALLS / EAU CLAIRE / MENOMONIE AREA
Lots of hunters hit the fields for the antlerless hunt, and hunters were finding success near standing corn. Moderate temperatures kept the deer moving and bowhunters out in the stand, getting every inch out of their season. A few warm days and rain deteriorated ice on lakes and rivers, but a few more days of cold weather have firmed the ice enough for fisherman to get out. Use caution on the ice, as no ice is good ice. Ice cleats and picks are recommended, and be very cautious if driving a vehicle or ATV on the ice. Fisherman have reported catching bluegills and crappies in good numbers on flasher jigs and wax worms, and walleyes have been caught by jigging with small spoons and minnows. Hunters have reported seeing great wildlife this past deer season, including coyotes, pileated woodpeckers, bobcats, fishers, otters, white deer, and bears. Conservation wardens have received lots of reports about bears denned in standing corn fields, while farmers have been harvesting their remaining corn. It’s recommended to drive harvest equipment slowly around these areas to let bears vacate the area and relocate to avoid a collision.
Buroker’s Taxidermy and Bait, Eau Claire, (715) 835-0847.
Bill’s Sport Shop, Chippewa Falls, (715) 723-9033.

EAGLE RIVER AREA
With all of the snow we have experienced recently, it is time for that dreaded word – slush. Unfortunately, many of our lakes now have a fair amount of slush on the ice from the rain and warmer weather that arrived ahead of the snowfalls. While ice thickness varies from 6 to 12 inches, there are pockets of slush on all lakes now – not as bad as last year, but we surely don’t need any more snow. In general, the fishing has been very good. Walleye fishing has been very good in the last week or so. We have noticed that the evening bite is very late this year, so we advise you to stay later than normal, if you can. Anglers have been catching fish from 8 to 9 p.m., so it’s worth staying late. As always, shiners or suckers are working best under tip-ups. Deep weed edges or the edges of drop-offs are the best areas to set those rigs. Move in shallower as the night goes on.
Northern pike action is good right now, with the fish hitting as usual in the weeds. This year, it seems the deeper the weeds, the better the pike fishing. Look for those deep, grassy weeds to produce the best. Set your tip-ups so that the bait is right above the weeds. Large shiners work best, but suckers have been working for some anglers. The great thing about northerns is that the action comes during the day and you can move and set up for walleyes following the afternoon pike action.
Panfish action has been good lately, with crappies leading the way. The crappies are in deeper water on the Eagle River chain. Action has been good on many days. Jigs tipped with waxies or tip-downs baited with crappie minnows have worked well. Perch and bluegill action also has been good, with the bluegills in the shallower weeds up to 6 feet or so. The perch are in deeper weeds. Try spikes or waxies for the bluegills. In the deeper weeds, try wigglers close to the bottom for the perch.
    Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.

GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
The snow is mostly gone in Brown County, with the exception of the dusting received earlier in the week. With the warmup, all ice is going to be questionable. People are not encouraged to go on the ice, especially the rivers and wetlands. A reminder that in the Brown County Metro unit, archery hunting goes until the end of January, so people still have time to fill those archery tags.
    Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.

HAYWARD AREA
Walleye action continues to be good to very good, though it has slowed somewhat from the start of the season. Look for fish in shallow water out to more than 25 feet, and work shallower water during low-light periods. Concentrate on weeds and weedlines, mud/muck flats, gravel and rock bars, drop-offs, and hard-bottomed breaks. Baits of choice include suckers and big fatheads under tip-ups, Jigging Rapalas, and jigging spoons with minnow heads, all fished near the bottom.
Northern pike fishing is fair to very good, depending on the day and light conditions. Fish near weedlines, weed edges, and sharp drop-offs in depths from shallow to 17 feet. Suckers and shiners under tip-ups are the favorites. Go deeper for trophy pike – and keep some smaller fish for eating or pickling. Pike make great table fare.
Ice anglers do not usually consider largemouth bass a prime species for ice fishing, but they are reporting success on largemouths this winter. Use suckers on tip-ups and fish for them in the same areas that are holding northern pike.
Crappie action is fair to good after you take the time and make the effort to find them. The crappies are suspending over deep water out to 30 feet, but check all depths with your electronics. Top baits include crappie minnows, rosie reds, waxies, plastics, and Gulp baits on jigs or plain hooks. Jigging Rapalas will take bigger fish.
Bluegill fishing is fair, with fish near deeper weeds and suspending just off the bottom. Small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp baits all work well at times. Perch anglers are catching a few fish after searching a while to locate them on weedbeds and mud flats.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.

MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Early last week was snowy and mild, adding more than a foot of heavy, wet snow to the Lakeland area. Conditions out on the ice have become slushy, with the moisture from the snow, plus the lack of ice thickness (still only a 10 to 12 inches on average), equaling wet footing under the snow. Thankfully it has gotten dry and cold (minus 14 degrees on Dec. 30) since then. The cold, dry air has helped take moisture from the snow and has helped make travel a bit easier. Walleye action is good to fair. The bite has moved to early morning and from 4 p.m. on. Usually by 8 a.m. the morning bite is over. With the high pressure system that moved in for now, expect this pattern to hold. With the forecast of a couple of mild fronts and some clouds, the bite could stretch out a little. Tip-ups have been best the last couple of days. Jigging action should improve.
Northern Pike: Good to fair, and slowed as of late. Action has been the best on live bait. As the barometer lowers, expect the bite to come back. A few nice pike were caught this past week in the low 30-inch range – enough to make the effort worth it.
Crappies: Fair. The 10- to 12-foot weed edge bite has been spotty –  sometimes only a 45- to 60-minute window of activity, followed by hours of trying to pry a bite out of a few fish. Work deeper at times like this on transition edges of 14 to 22 feet, and use small minnows or glow jigs tipped with waxies.
Bluegills: Fair. Anglers are struggling to find keepers of late. In times like this, downsize to 1- to 2-pound-test line, tiny No. 14 jigs, and a single spike, mousie, or sliver of Chena. Fish within 6 to 8 inches of bottom.
Largemouth bass: Fair. Action has slowed with the cold. Shiners are the best bet on tip-ups. With this species, usually it’s when temps are above 20 degrees that the action picks up.
Yellow Perch: Fair. Anglers that are finding perch are sorting to find enough for small meals. Deep is best right now; work heavy spoons to drop wigglers into mud bottoms of 18 to 30 feet. The new tungsten spoon by Northland has been popular for getting bait down to fish quickly.
While the cold doesn’t feel so good, we do need some more ice build-up so we can get better access with trucks. While some lakes do see truck travel, we still can’t promote this form of transportation until we see a good 14 to 16 inches of ice. Snowmobile travel is preferred. On heavy-use areas, ATVs are still getting around, yet the snow is too deep on many lakes for most ATVs.
    Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J & J Sports, (715) 277-2616.

PRICE COUNTY AREA
With the rain and mild temperatures earlier, ice conditions did show a bit of deterioration. The warm weather melted nearly all of the snow off the surface, and ice thickness ranged from 6 to 8 inches on most lakes prior to the arrival of sub-zero temps. Ice anglers should exercise caution. With that said, the mild weather did bring out quite a few anglers and improve success for walleyes, northern pike, and panfish. Walleyes have continued to be the main species of interest. The most productive method has been with tip-ups fished in the 4- to 8-foot depth range, and baited with large fatheads or medium suckers. No specific areas have been better than others; fish are being found on shallow mud flats, some near weed edges and some are on the edges of gravel/rock bars. A few tip-up fishermen also have been targeting northern pike and have had pretty good success. The best action has come during midday hours, with a golden shiner fished near the edge of any green weeds. Most of the pike have been less than 22 inches, but a few in the 30-inch range also have been caught.
    Bridge Bait, (715) 762-4108.
    Ross’s Sport Shop, (715) 339-3625.

WAUSAU AREA
With the warmup and steady rains prior to the return of cold weather, most of the snow disappeared in open areas. Most lakes had standing water on the ice. That water has stiffened up, but still use caution if you venture onto the lakes. Fishing has been moderate to slow.
Gander Mountain, Rothschild, (715) 355-5500.

UPPER PENINSULA REPORT
Lake Gogebic fishing has been slow, with only a few reports regarding perch and walleyes during the last snow. Since then, lower temps have settled in, and most anglers are finding a tough bite. Surface conditions have firmed up. Walleyes have been hitting in 7 to 12 feet during low-light conditions. Daytime efforts in 25 to 26 feet have produced some nice keepers, as well. Suckers and Jigging Rapalas have worked the best. Perch anglers are fishing the mud in 23 to 26 feet with wigglers.
    Bear’s Nine Pines, (906) 842-3361.

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