Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report – February 5th, 2016
Bear Trap Lake is producing crappies, sunfish, and perch in 15 to 20 feet, while White Ash Lake is giving up sunfish in shallower water. Sucker minnows are turning pike on the Apple River in 4 feet, Big Round Lake is producing panfish and walleyes in 14 to 20 feet, and Balsam Lake is giving up walleyes and sunfish in 10 to 18 feet.
Lucky Baits (715) 268-6231
Things are shaping up nicely on the ice after our last cold snap, and we’re getting out throughout Chequamegon Bay now. As always though, take caution before heading out. And be prepared for heavy pack ice along the shoreline with it being a little rough until you get out a little ways. There really hasn’t been one “hot” bite on the bay, but rather a great mix of fish coming through at most of the spots. Perch, whitefish, brown trout, and the occasional walleye can all be found in the same spots lately. Smaller jigging spoons tipped with shiner tails have worked best, as well as Hali Jigs. Over in Washburn, anglers have been catching some fish off the coal dock, such as brown trout, whitefish, and smallmouth bass, mostly on shiners.
On the inland lakes, people have been targeting crappies, northerns, and walleyes. Caution is urged, however. Even though you see people out there, you should still use an ice bar and check your way as you go.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754
River Rock, (715) 682-3232
Crappies and sunfish are over 20 feet on Bashaw Lake, Long Lake, and Middle McKenzie Lake. Look for walleyes in 15 to 20 feet at Shell Lake or 20 to 30 feet on Long. Perch reports have been best in 16 to 20 feet at Spooner, Hemlock Lake, and Red Cedar Lake.
Indianhead Sports, (715) 822-2164
EAGLE RIVER AREA
With mild weather coming on the heels of an Arctic freeze, lakes have been packed with ice fishermen during the past week. Fishing has been very good, with anglers reporting pike up to 36 inches. Lakes on the Eagle River Chain O’Lakes have been particularly productive. The moderate temperatures and snow cover have made lakes very accessible. Ice depth has reached at least 8 inches on larger lakes and up to a foot or more on smaller lakes, which is under average for late January and – while fine for fisherman – not thick enough for extensive vehicle traffic.
Northern pike: Most often settling in 5 to 12 feet of water. Set tip-ups 1 to 2 feet above the weed tops. The bite seems to be good to very good all day long until dark.
Walleyes: Set up along the deepest weed edges and use tip-ups tipped with golden shiners set 1 to 2 feet above the bottom. The bite is fair to good in the mornings and evenings. Use rattle spoons tipped with minnow heads in the same weedline edges for jigging.
Crappies: Appearing usually deep in the main lake basins suspended just a few feet off the bottom. Jig with tungsten jigs tipped with plastic tails, spikes, or waxies. The bite has been fair to good during the daylight hours.
Perch: Getting them on deep rock bars while jigging a tungsten live bait combo of wigglers, spikes, waxies, or crappie minnows.
Bluegills: Use small ice jigs tipped with spikes or waxies in shallow weeds of 4 to 8 feet of water. The bite has been very good.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804
You’ll find walleyes in 12 to 15 feet and crappies in 20 to 22 feet on Nelson Lake and Grindstone Lake. Round Lake is a safe bet for walleyes and perch in 20 feet. Walleye fishing is decent and is improving, with anglers experiencing the most action during low-light conditions in morning, evening, on overcast days, and after dark. You will find walleyes in depths to 15 feet or so, with fish deeper during the day and shallower in the evening. Target mud flats, breaklines, weeds, and weed edges.
Northern pike are providing anglers an all-day bite. Look for fish around weeds and other cover in depths to 12 feet, or near schools of panfish. Use suckers and shiners under tip-ups.
Crappie action is fair to very good – once you find the fish. Look for them in 8 to 20 feet and check all depths, especially near the bottom.
Bluegills are in the same general locations as crappies and are hitting waxies, spikes, mousies, and plastics on small jigs and teardrops.
Perch are in deeper weeds and/or suspending near the bottom. Top baits include minnows, fatheads, and waxies.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992
Ice was running up to 10 inches thick on Green Bay and about the same on the backwaters of the Menominee River. Whitefish, perch, and a couple of walleyes have been caught in 15 to 25 feet of water. Northern pike were hitting suckers and chubs. Bluegills and crappies have been hitting, too. There was about 3 inches of crunchy snow on the ground, which has hampered hunters who use hounds. Callers have killed a few coyotes.
Hook, Line and Sinker, (715) 854-2073
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Following two very cold weekends, this past weekend was a nice change, weather wise. Unfortunately, the fishing wasn’t as great as the weather for a lot of anglers. Initial reports were slow, though as the weekend progressed into early last week better reports came in.
Crappies: Fair to good. Action slowed. As the bite got tougher, anglers did the best with plastics. Scent seems to help when crappies are tight-lipped. Try a small pinch of Gulp Alive waxies, along with a small Wedgee plastics (purple, red) to entice reluctant biters. Gulp Alive 1-inch minnows cut down also worked on slow drops.
Walleyes: Fair to good. Successful anglers rarely reported more than two walleyes a night. With fish less aggressive, live bait has been best. Smaller suckers, shiners, and even large fatheads or rosies were better producers over the weekend. As we move away from the full moon, fish should get more aggressive, and jigging spoons will again be good choices.
Bluegills: Fair. Despite warm weather, catches of better bluegills were hard to come by. Down-sizing to small tungsten or teardrops tipped with a single spike or mousie helped. Make sure you are tight to the bottom and use very light line.
Perch: Fair. Anglers probing mud flats found wigglers on Hali jigs, Swedish Pimples, or small Perch Talkers. Use a No. 4 tungsten jig or small Flash Champs tipped with waxies or minnow heads over sand grass. These areas gave up the better numbers. Fish weeds of 6 to 12 feet on bars surrounded by deeper water. Anglers reported the best results on fatheads or Northland Forage spoons tipped with waxies.
Pike: Fair. Usually the fish make flags fly even during tough times. Try tip-up rigs with small blades above the hook for added attraction. Also try raising the bait higher off the bottom on at least some rigs to see if pike may be cruising higher for some reason (possibly low oxygen levels on some lakes).
Largemouth bass: Fair. Action was surprisingly slow with the warmup. Those reporting success found the best action on tip-ups baited with medium shiners in weeds of 6 to 12 feet.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616
PRICE COUNTY AREA
Ice-fishing success seems to have reached its midwinter lows, and action has become more sporadic than in the past several weeks. In addition, there have been some lakes that are experiencing poor success, while others are having some consistent and fair action. As such, it is advised that anglers check with local bait shops to find where the hot spots are and target their efforts on those lakes. With that said, walleye success has continued its erratic trend across the area, with some anglers reporting fair success and others complaining about coming home skunked. On several lakes, it seems to be a real finicky bite for walleyes the past few weeks; the fish are in a particular habitat (mud/sand flats), at a specific depth (5 to 8 feet), feeding for a short period of time (about 20 minutes, and an hour before dark), and hitting a certain size bait (large fathead or small suckers). A few anglers have figured this out and have been reporting some decent catches of walleyes in the 12- to 16-inch size range. Panfish have provided a bit more consistent action, though it has slowed up a bit in the past week. Some nice catches of perch and crappies have been made, with keeper bluegills being a bit tougher to find. Northern pike success has been fair, with some decent action during the midday hours on golden shiners or suckers near any old weedbeds. One side note: Many of the shallow and weedy pike lakes are starting to see lower oxygen levels near the bottom. The northerns will still be active, but anglers may have to move their bait closer to the surface where oxygen levels are often higher.
Bridge Bait and Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625
Crappies and bluegills are hitting on Fish Lake in 14 to 16 feet, and the Duluth Harbor on the St. Louis River is producing walleyes and a few crappies in 10 feet. Hit Boulder Lake during the evening for walleyes in 12 feet and Rice Lake for northern pike in 5 feet.
Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094