GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
The Fox River bite has been steady, but last week’s cold snap slowed down the action a bit. Jigs and minnows and crankbaits have been catching fish. Fishermen are getting a few fish longer than 28 inches. This week’s warmer weather should really kick things into gear.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
Colder weather limited the number of anglers fishing the rivers for walleyes last week, but the best fishing is yet to come! Water temperatures were reported to be in the upper 30s. Water on the rivers was low with slow current. With the cold temperatures, slow presentations, live bait, and the lightest jigs/rigs to maintain bottom contact are needed. A stinger hook must be used for light-biting fish.
Anglers fishing the Rock River in Jefferson, Fort Atkinson, Watertown, and Indianford reported catching many small male walleyes and saugers, with a few keepers. Anglers fishing from boats have done best by drifting deeper holes or current breaks while vertical jigging. A light jig baited with a 3-inch plastic tail, minnow, or a hair jig and minnow have produced. A slip sinker rig or split shot rig baited with a minnow has worked on finicky walleyes.
With the help of wind, sun, and rain, most of the smaller lakes are now ice-free. The large, deep, or protected areas should be ice free soon. It’s almost time to hit the water in search of panfish Don’t have a boat? There are many shoreline opportunities on the area lakes to catch panfish.
Bluegills will be found in warmest water; usually shallow, dark-bottomed bays, channels, and marsh areas. Northern ends of lakes generally warm the fastest, so concentrate on these areas first. Green weeds or wood will also hold fish. Small baits and light line must be used at this time of year. An ice jig baited with a spike, wax worm, red worm, or small plastic tail will work best. Suspend these under a small bobber and make long casts for the best results. Afternoon hours are the best time to target bluegills now.
Crappies should be suspended outside warm-water areas. As warm weather approaches, the crappies may move in shallower in search of warm water and food. A small fathead or wax worm baited on a jig or No. 8 Aberdeen hook suspended under a small pencil bobber will work best.
Anglers have been fishing the open water of Lake Michigan harbors for brown trout by casting a Darter jig dressed with a 4-inch Gulp minnow or paddle tail. Soaking a spawn sac or golden shiner on a No. 6 Octopus hook suspended under a slip bobber worked, as well. Or try casting Cleos, Kastmasters, or Krocodiles.
The Root, Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Pike rivers have produced a few steelhead. Rain would help bring more fish up the rivers.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
The ice has deteriorated to the point where anglers have given up on the hard-water season. Now look for places like Cherokee Marsh to start opening up. That open water will attract panfish. Also keep an eye on University Bay, the triangle on Lake Monona, and the Yahara River near Mud Lake because bluegills and crappies will appear there soon.
D&S Bait & Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
SAUK CITY AREA
Guys are fishing from boats on the Wisconsin River below the Prairie du Sac dam for walleyes and saugers. Smaller walleyes and saugers were being caught in the deeper hole right below the dam last week. The bigger fish were coming from shallower water farther downstream. Guys were also fishing at Tipperary above Lake Wisconsin.
Wilderness Fish and Game, (608) 643-5229.
McFarlane’s, (608) 643-3321.
UPPER PENINSULA REPORT
The Lake Gogebic fishing report has been good. Perch anglers are having good success in 22 to 28 feet of water while using wigglers and spikes. Some nice jumbos have been hitting the ice and good numbers of fish were being marked. Ice conditions were still great last week. Expect 18 to 24 inches of ice with no snow this week. Only a few areas had slush, with most of the lake being great travel by ATVs with no problem. The conditions have been excellent in the mornings, with a softer surface by end of day, and looks to stay about the same for a while.
Bear’s Nine Pines, (906) 842-3361.