Northern Wisconsin Fishing Report – February 19th, 2016
Bluegills and northern pike are hitting in 12 feet on Lake Magner and the Apple River. North Twin Lake and Little Balsam Lake are producing crappies in 15 feet, while perch have started hitting on Bone Lake and Butternut Lake in 20 to 30 feet. Lakes such as Wapogasset, Loveless, and Bear Trap are giving up a mixed bag of panfish in 15 to 18 feet. A few walleyes are biting during low-light periods on Big Round Lake in 12 to 14 feet.
Lucky Baits (715) 268-6231.
Anglers returned to Chequamegon Bay in force despite snow, the loss of all South Channel ice, and a little slush. Travel is limited to foot, ATV, and snowmobile. Anglers are catching perch, along with a few walleyes and trout, off of the first and second landings. The lighthouse area is yielding nice catches of smelt, with a few trout, splake, northern pike, and whitefish. Trout anglers targeting the Washburn ice from the coal dock to Houghton Point report nice catches of whitefish, splake, brown trout, and occasional lake trout. Lake shiners are the top choice for jigging; golden shiners are popular for tip-ups.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
More snow, strong winds, and developing slush made for difficult fishing conditions last week. The 12-foot weeds on Lake Vermilion, Beaver Dam Lake, and East Balsam Lake are holding crappies and sunfish. Walleye action is slow, but northern pike are hitting in 12 to 15 feet on most lakes.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
Walleye fishing is pretty good right now, with many anglers reporting daily action, especially in the evening. Most walleye spots are heavily traveled, so you have good access to the good spots. Weekends, of course, are pretty busy out there, but most evenings you’ll have plenty of space. Tip-up action with shiners or suckers is consistently good on the Eagle River Chain, especially on Eagle, Yellow Birch, and Catfish lakes. As a general rule, look for water depth of 10 to 12 feet deep to set those tip-ups, and move shallower after dark. Good action starts at about 4:30 p.m. and will go on after dark.
On the bigger, clear lakes guys are getting in some deep-water daytime jigging also, with Swedish Minnows or the like tipped with crappie minnows or fatheads. They are fishing as deep as 35 feet on lakes like North Twin. They then move up shallower in the evenings to catch the fish coming in to feed.
Northern Pike: Typically suspended in 8 to 14 feet of water. Set tip-ups 1 to 2 feet above the weed tops, tipped with golden shiners or suckers. The bite seems to be good to very good all day.
Crappies: They are settling deep in the main lake basins, just a few feet off the bottom. Jigging with tungsten jigs tipped with either plastic tails, spikes, or waxies will get you bit. The bite has been fair during the daylight hours.
Perch: We’re finding them on deep rock bars and on the mud flats while jigging a tungsten live bait combo of wigglers, spikes, and waxies or crappie minnows. The bite is good to very good during daylight hours.
Bluegills: Use small ice jigs tipped with spikes or waxies in shallow weeds in 4 to 8 feet of water.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
A few walleyes continue to be caught in 15 feet on Grindstone Lake, Round Lake, and Lake Lac Courte Oreilles during the evening hours. Fish deeper water, out to 30 feet, during the day. Target weed edges and look for fish hugging the bottom. Look for perch and crappies in 12 feet on Lost Land Lake, Spring Lake, Lake Hayward, Nelson Lake, and the Chippewa Flowage.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good, and the bite continues throughout the day. Concentrate your efforts over weeds, cabbage beds, structure, and near panfish schools in 5 to 20 feet, using tip-ups with shiners and suckers.
Crappie action is fair to very good – be prepared to move – with the best bite windows early and late (just before sunset). Fish are suspending over mid-depth weeds and over deep water, holding a few feet off bottom.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good, with best success early and late in the day. You can find fish in 8 to 30 feet around weeds and structure, with bigger fish close to the bottom. Baits of choice include small tungsten jigs tipped with waxies, wigglers, spikes, and plastics on light line.
Perch fishing is good in depths from 10 feet and deeper, on mud flats, with fish holding close to the bottom. Use ice jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, and plastics, or try jigging a jigging spoon with a piece of minnow.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
High winds pushed most of the recent light snows off of the lakes, maintaining good travel for ATVs and snowmobiles. There has been some truck travel where ice thickness allows. Fishing improved during the past week, with the exception of two days of low pressure.
Bluegills: Good. Action has been the best in areas away from the crowds for nice bluegills of 8½ inches and some pushing 10 inches. Try depths of 10 to 18 feet depending on lake type (clear, hard-bottom lakes deeper than lakes with color). Try dark tungsten jigs, (black, purple, red, green) tipped with mousies, spikes, or waxies. Fish over mud bottoms and occasionally stir up mud to attract roaming schools. Use a larger spoon to disrupt the bottom.
Northern pike: Good. Action improved with some nice reports of fish to 34 inches on big baits on tip-ups.
Walleyes: Good. There has finally been some improved bites, most at or just after dark. Jigging spoons with minnow heads are working well again. When walleyes strike these baits it’s a good sign they are more active. Suckers on tip-ups over sand grass flats of 22 to 28 feet also have been productive. Get set up a couple hours before dark and “stair step” some tip-ups to the top of humps to intercept the walleyes they move up at dusk to feed.
Crappies: Good to fair. Some anglers are having better success out away from weed bays in 14 to 18 feet of water on neutral-colored plastics (red, root beer, motor oil) or small minnows on tip-downs. At this time of year, deep flats with pockets that drop a foot or two deeper also are key areas for crappies. On the flowages, some days are good on small rosies and tip-downs. When the bite is off, a small VMC Flash Champ tipped with a red spike held a foot off bottom will draw bites.
Yellow perch: Good to fair. Deep mud flat bites are starting to show up. These fish are feeding on mayfly and midge larvae. Wigglers and red spikes are good choices on Hali jigs, No. 4 tungsten jigs, and No. 2 Pimples. Work mud flats of 18 to 28 feet. Heavy lures will get the bait down quickly to keep roaming schools in the area once they show up.
While it’s still slushy, lake travel is not as bad as might be expected since the snow did not accumulate on lakes in most cases. Slush is still a problem and unlikely to go away. Ice thickness reports ranged from 8 to 15 inches, with 11 to 12 inches the average.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
With more snowfall in the past week, snow depths have increased on lakes across the northern-most part of the region and worsened the slush conditions. Ice depths have been holding at 8 to 10 inches, but the slush layer is up to 4 to 6 inches on some waters. Truck travel has pretty much been curtailed, and even some snowmobiles and ATVs are getting mired in the deep slush. Lakes south of Hwy. 8 seem to have less snow and minimal slush, but most lakes in Price, Sawyer, Ashland, Iron, and Bayfield counties have slush problems.
For anglers who have been able to get out on the ice, fishing did show a little more consistency in the past week. Walleye activity did seem to spike up and a few anglers were having some good success on the mid-depth breaklines and mud flats in 5 to 10 feet of water. The best action has been on small suckers or large fatheads in the hour or so before dark. Most walleyes have been in the 12- to 16-inch range, but a few in the low 20-inch size also have been reported. Panfish have continued to provide the most consistent success, though anglers still have to move around a bit to find active fish. Some good catches of perch have been made over the mud flats and near weedbeds, with small fatheads producing the best action. Crappies have been suspended off the bottom in the deeper water, with finesse baits and small minnows catching fish. Northern pike fishing has been OK, with some decent catches being made on large golden shiners fished near old weeds in 4 to 6 feet of water.
Bridge Bait and Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108.
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.
An occasional walleye is caught just before dark in 15 to 20 feet on Long Lake and Big McKenzie Lake. Perch, crappies, and sunfish can be had in less than 10 feet on Spooner Lake.
AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011.
Crappies and sunfish are over 16 feet on Fish Lake, while Whiteface Lake is producing crappies in 14 to 16 feet. Hit Island Lake for crappies in 20 to 22 feet, the St. Louis River for walleyes in 10 feet, or Rice Lake for bluegills and northern pike in 4 to 6 feet.
Chalstrom’s Bait, (218) 726-0094.