Wisconsin Outdoor News Fishing Report – Dec. 15, 2017


The landings are froze up now so people are looking ahead to getting their ice-fishing gear together. There are no ice fishing reports as of yet, but maybe by next few week. Some of the smaller inland lakes should be ready to go this week, thanks to finally getting some cold weather.

Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.

River Rock, (715) 682-3232.


The majority of ice that had formed was blown away with the strong winds on Monday and Tuesday. That was probably good since this area received about 8 inches of snow on Monday night. With snow on the ground, cold expected to continue, and less wind forecasted, there could be some lakes with walkable ice as early as this weekend.

Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164


Cold weather was on its way last week here in Door County. Whether it will be cold enough, and for a long enough period of time to develop some safe ice on the shallow bays, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, ice fishermen are starting to get geared up for the season.

During the early ice season, fishermen crowd the shallow bays of Sawyer Harbor, Little Sturgeon, and Riley’s Bay to search for perch or pike. Both species can be quite commonly found during the early ice season in shallow water. Small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, or minnows will work well for perch; even minnows under tip-ups works well. For the pike, set shiners or suckers under tip-ups.

Walleye anglers are patiently waiting for some good ice so they can head out to their hot spots. Some of those spots include Henderson’s Point, Sherwood Point and Larson’s Reef.

And, of course, there is the fan-favorite and quite abundant whitefish. Hundreds of fishermen will pile out on the ice when it becomes safe enough looking to fill their buckets with limits of whitefish and, in most cases, fishermen are quite successful. A wide variety of jigs tipped with minnow heads, wax worms, spikes and Gulp will work, as will slider rigs.

Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.

Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.


There is a little ice fishing going on at this point, but not a lot. It has been a weird early winter, just as it was a weird fall. There have been a few ice anglers, and they report decent northern fishing on the shallow, weedy lakes where the ice development is going to be the best. Tip-ups with large shiners work the best for these fish. Wait for flags away from the tip-ups, as the thin ice allows for noise or movement to be seen by the fish.

For walleyes this advice is especially important, as you are mostly fishing in the evenings for fish that are moving in from deeper water. Use shiners or suckers under tip-ups. Most anglers will use very light wire leaders in case of northern hits.

Hang in there as this colder weather will make a huge difference in the quality of the ice. Check ice thickness as you venture out if you are the first to go to a spot.

Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.


There haven’t been many recent fishing reports from anglers. Most lakes had a thin layer of ice; some smaller ones had a few inches in areas.  Unfortunately, the warmer weather and even some heavy rain took care of a lot of the ice until the temps started dropping last week. The cold weather in the long-range forecast won’t keep ice fishermen waiting too much longer.

Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411.


With water temperatures dropping daily, it is only a matter of time until the lakes and rivers begin to lock up, but until then, fishing remains very good. Muskie anglers caught big fish (48 inches and up) right up until the Nov. 30 closure. Walleye anglers were finding one of the best bites in late November and early December. Anglers fishing in the Fox River have been locating hungry fish in 8 to 16 feet of water hanging on or just off the channel break.

Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.


Some small lakes and bays had up to 4 inches of ice earlier last week, and anglers have started walking on them. The big lakes still had open water, but everything is expected to improve a lot by this week given the cold weather forecasted. Some anglers were catching pike and panfish last week. For pike, try suckers and shiners on quick-strike rigs over weeds and weed beds. Catch crappies in mid-depths with minnows, plastics, and small jigging spoons.

Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.

Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.


Several snowy owls were observed in the Viroqua area of Vernon County recently. Snowy owls are rare winter visitors to southwestern Wisconsin. These distinctly marked, large white owls nest on the ground in the circumpolar Arctic tundra. Call ahead for ice reports and use caution when venturing out. The cold weather last week and this week will help.

Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.

Bob’s Bait and Tackle, (608) 782-5552.


Lakes in southeastern Wisconsin just started skimming over late last week, thanks to calm conditions and cold overnight lows. There was no “walkable ice” as of Nov. 6, but consistent cold weather will change that soon. Call ahead for an ice report before venturing out.

DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.

Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.


Area waters started freezing Dec. 5 and Dec. 6, so ice started forming, but there was no “fishable ice” as of Thursday, Dec. 7. If the cold weather hangs on, anglers could be fishing soon on the bays and in areas like Skipper Bud’s, which typically freeze up ahead of areas with more and deeper water.

Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.

Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.

Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.


There have been just a few anglers fishing, but they have been catching walleyes shallow at night on Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, along with a few muskies. On Monona, two good spots had been in front of the Yahara River and along John Nolan Drive. The bite has been occurring any time after dark – sometimes right at dark, sometimes a couple of hours later. Anglers were still trolling for muskies ahead of last week’s tumble into the deep freeze. Perch fishing on Lake Kegonsa has been getting tougher and tougher as time has gone by.

D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.

Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.


In Oconto County, gun deer hunters appeared to have decent success on bucks. The late archery season is currently open. Hunters have seen pheasants – sportsmen’s clubs have had a good year of pheasant production. Trappers are out after fishers and otters. There are a lot of otter signs near Pulaski, and along the Oconto River from Oconto Falls up to Mountain. Beavers populations between Suring and Mountain are also high. Some individuals have seen a lot of beaver activity near Weso Flowage. The ice was not safe to go on as of last week, so use caution.


Continued warm weather (for late November and early December) and wind has been keeping ice anglers at bay while waiting for things to get safe. An example: Zentner’s Bay of Minocqua froze over earlier, but then opened up – for the fifth time this season. The near future looks good with colder temps continuing. Bays that remained ice covered during the warm spell will only improve, and once the wind lays down for even just a little while, lakes should see fishable ice. Those who were able to find safe ice reported good fishing for walleyes and perch.

Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.

J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.


Connors Lake, Lake of the Pines, and many other smaller Price County lakes had a bit of ice on them last week, depending on what the wind did to the ice cover. Cold weather last week started covering those lakes with ice again. Call ahead for ice reports. Hunters reported seeing groups of elk around the Flambeau River State Forest. Gun deer season seemed to be successful and hunters were happy with the amount of deer seen and harvested. Bears are denned up and the weasels have turned white. Porcupines have been seen more than usual. Beavers and muskrats are starting to prime-up.

Bridge Bait and Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108.

Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.


All lakes are ice-covered with as much as 6 to 8 inches on the small lakes. Crappies and walleyes are hitting on Fish Lake in 13 feet. Walleyes were caught in 8 to 10 feet at Boulder Lake and in 5 feet on Rice Lake with jigging spoons and shiners.

Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094.

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