Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report – January 8th, 2016
Anglers are reporting 2 to 6 inches of ice, but there are pockets of open water on some of the larger, deeper lakes. Look for walleyes on the 8- to 12-foot weed edges out to 20 feet on Half Moon Lake, Balsam Lake, Lower Turtle Lake, North Twin Lake, and Pike Lake. Panfish are hitting in 8 to 12 feet on Big Round Lake, White Ash Lake, and Little Blake Lake.
Lucky Baits (715) 268-6231
Even though shoreline ice has finally started to form in the bay during the last few days, anyone who asked Santa for ice for fishing is going to be disappointed. Diehard anglers are still going out in their boats – weather-permitting – and doing pretty well. When conditions allow, there’s plenty of fish to be had. In addition, there are still some great fishing opportunities sans boat with decent walleye action reported along the Ashland shoreline. The Xcel Energy “hot pond” and the coal dock in Washburn also are productive places to fish from shore, as are the mouths of the Sioux and Onion rivers. If you must get your ice-fishing mojo on, you should try one of the area’s smaller inland lakes. Most now have 3 to 5 inches of ice on them – these are the pothole lakes, not the big inland lakes. Folks are catching panfish – crappies and bluegills – on those tiny lakes.
And please remember: No ice is ever 100 percent safe! Conditions can change rapidly on Lake Superior. Please have all of the necessary safety equipment with you, such as ice claws or picks, a cell phone in a waterproof bag or case, a life jacket, and a length of rope.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754
River Rock, (715) 682-3232
Some small lakes and bays have up to 4 inches of ice, but the big lakes are ice-free. Early reports indicate pike are hitting tip-ups and sucker minnows on a few small lakes not far from shore.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
EAGLE RIVER AREA
We finally have some ice fishing throughout the area. It is wonderful to report that the conditions at the time of this writing are getting pretty good for all of our ice-fishing fans. All of the smaller lakes have frozen over and, with caution, are available to be fished. The larger lakes are freezing as we write this, but extreme caution is advised on these lakes. Since the predicted snow never materialized last week, the ice is getting a chance to thicken, which is good for the long term. Colder weather is certainly helping, especially these cold nights. I’d still take a spud out with me to check any ice that has not been walked on, but a lot of people were out there during the weekend, so there has been some good traffic on the ice. Some lakes also are tolerating light machine traffic.
Walleye fishing has been pretty good, especially in the evenings, as usual. Shiners or suckers are working about equally well. Most successful anglers are setting their tip-ups near or outside of the weed edges during the evenings, and then moving the tip-ups shallower after dark. Cabbage weeds are the best, but if you can’t find them, any weeds will do. The deeper the weeds, the better. Northern action has been real good, and the advantage of these fish is that they will bite all day until the late evenings. Large shiners work best for these fish. Fish weeds for pike, and, again, cabbage weeds are the best if you can find them. Lakes without cabbage contain good action in any weeds. Look for lakes with cabbage – and then look for the green cabbage on those lakes. Some good-sized fish up to the mid-30-inch range have been caught in the past few days.
Panfish action is good in general. The biggest problem anglers seem to have in the beginning of the ice-fishing season is locating larger panfish. Bluegills in good numbers have been caught throughout the area, and some perch, but not big ones yet. Crappies are deeper at this time of year, and as yet we have been unable to get out over deeper water to find them. That is changing now as the ice gets thicker, so we will be able to locate schools of these fish out deeper starting now.
It was a slow start to the ice-fishing season, but we’re hoping for nice ice now to make up for that. We had terrible slush at this time last year, if you remember, and it was tough to get around. Let’s hope for a year with great ice.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804
Depending on the lake, we have 1 to 5 inches of ice, and some big bodies of water still had pockets of open water early last week. With Mother Nature fickle and not cooperating, ice thickness is subject to change due to the fluctuating weather conditions. Anglers who are testing their luck are catching walleyes, northern pike, and bass on suckers and shiners – and panfish on waxies, spikes, and plastics. Use extreme caution. Look for perch on Lake Hayward in 6 feet of water on most lakes.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992
IRON COUNTY AREA
As of last week, ice was still generally unsafe for any type of ice travel. Ice began re-forming on many waters with the lower temperatures, but most areas developed only 1 to 2 inches of ice. Some smaller lakes and shallow bays of larger lakes reached 2 to 3 inches, but should still be considered unsafe for ice travel. A few anglers who found spots with 3 inches ventured out, but reported inconsistent action, with just a few northerns, perch, and small walleyes on small baits in 3 to 5 feet.
Turtle River Trading Co., Mercer, (715) 476-0123
Pike fishing has been very good along the weedbeds in the Menominee River and in Green Bay in 10 to 15 feet of water. A few whitefish were being caught in the river, too. Deer numbers are low.
Hook, Line and Sinker, (715) 854-2073
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
It’s difficult predicting what to expect for ice conditions this week when you can’t rely on weather forecasts to be very reliable about snow. For what it’s worth, here’s what happened recently. Christmas Day the wind laid down long enough to put a skim on a lot of lakes. On lakes that already had some fishable ice, things got better as ice thickness got into the 5- to 6-inch range. Where ice allowed, fishing has been very good, but a few hiccups were a super low-pressure system moved in, or east winds played havoc for a while. Otherwise there has been good to very good fishing on most areas of “fishable” ice.
Walleyes: Very good. Tip-ups baited with suckers or shiners worked best in the shallows after dark. On lakes or flowages with stained water, jigging minnow heads on Tinglers, Slender Spoons, Jigging Raps, and the new Custom Jigs worked well. Some nice walleyes up to 28 inches were reported last week, with lots of them in the protected slot (20 to 24 inches), but with enough eaters to take home.
Bluegills: Very good, with limits of nice ’gills up to 9 inches in 4 to 7 feet of water. The new VMC and Northland tungsten flies have been hot when tipped with waxies or spikes. The slower drop of the “helium” series of flies also has been effective for the shallow-water bite.
Northern pike: Very good. Use big suckers and shiners on tip-ups or jig spoons dressed with minnow “parts.” Lots of 28- to 32-inch pike were reported, plus lots of smaller “picklers.”
Crappies: Good. Some of the best crappie spots are still just out of reach of anglers. Once the ice thickens another couple of inches, we should be good to go. Tip-downs with rosies on stained water produced slabs to 14 inches.
Largemouth bass: Good. Tip-ups with shiners have been the best. There have been some accidental hook-ups on jigs/waxies or tip-down/minnow combos meant for other fish.
Perch: Good. Action has been the best in sparse weeds over a muck bottom on Forage Minnow spoons tipped with fatheads in 4 to 8 feet.
If snow holds off we should see good ice build. The one positive about late “early” ice? A lot of fish have not been caught.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616
PRICE COUNTY AREA
Ice is slowly arriving to lakes in the county. Fishermen have been poking out on thin sheets over shallow water for a little while now, but up until last week, there was more open water than ice, and anglers were actually walleye fishing from shore with hook and line. Tip-ups and jig sticks should become more the norm beginning this week as freezing temps – even though they are above normal – continue to build some ice. Still, use caution. This is an unusual winter. Don’t expect to find uniform iced thickness across all lakes. Check things as you go.
Bridge Bait and Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625
Many lakes now have 2 to 6 inches of ice, and anglers are mostly walking out. It’s worth noting that lake conditions could change depending on how much snow the area received early this week. Some big lakes remained open as of Tuesday morning. The south bay on Shell Lake was producing walleyes in 6 to 8 feet, while Spooner Lake was kicking out panfish and northern pike in 4 to 6 feet.
AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011
You’ll find up to 8 inches of ice on most lakes, but much less in any areas with moving water and deep-water locations. Boulder Lake is giving up walleyes and pike on shiner minnows in 10 to 12 feet, while Fish Lake is kicking out walleyes and crappies in 10 to 14 feet near the Highbanks area. The main entry point on Rice Lake has some “hairy” ice conditions, but anglers are getting on it and catching bluegills, walleyes, and northern pike in 5 to 7 feet.
AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011