Wisconsin Outdoor News Fishing and Hunting Report – Feb. 8, 2019
Fishing is good on Chequamegon Bay. Many anglers fishing the Ashland side of the bay are catching mixed bags of brown trout, cohos, perch, northern pike, sturgeon, and smelt. There is about 16 inches of ice and people are driving out on it, but take care. Now that there is ice outside the bay, people are flocking to Bayfield and Red Cliff where there was approximately 6 inches of ice, but snow covered and slushy, and the same off Bay View Beach. Anglers are reporting some excellent trout action from those areas.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
As most ice fishermen should already know, but tend to quickly forget, the ice on Green Bay can be very unpredictable even with the extremely cold temps. We have ice breaking going on throughout the winter for ships to come into the ship yard. And we have crazy winds here, which in turn will shift the ice and open up large cracks. So, you can be standing on 12 to 18 inches of ice in one spot and a few feet away there could be a crack with less than 1 inch of ice. Make sure you do your homework prior to heading out. We have had a few recent incidents, and equipment has been lost. Luckily no one has been hurt. Be safe.
Whitefish action has been very good now that fishermen are able to get out to some of those spots. A few of those spots include Henderson’s Point, the deeper water in front Little Sturgeon and Riley’s Bay, Sherwood Point, Larsen’s Reef and the deeper shorelines and structure to the north up to Egg Harbor. A wide variety of jigs rigged with slider hooks will work great. Tip jigs with wax worms, spikes, minnow pieces and plastics. One major key is to stay away from the big groups and the noise the generate.
Perch fishing still going pretty strong up until this point. And if it is anything like the past couple of years, it should continue to stay good throughout the ice season. Areas to try are Little Sturgeon, Sawyer Harbor, and Sturgeon Bay, along with some of the deeper water out in front of Little Sturgeon and south past the Chaudoir’s Dock area. A wide variety of jigs tipped with plastics, waxies, spikes and minnow pieces will work, along with soaking shiners, fatheads and rosies on hand lines or tip-ups.
Walleye action is starting to pick up now that fishermen can venture out a bit more and get to some different areas. Look for those secondary shoreline drop offs, rock to sand or mud drop-offs along with some off-shore reefs. Some areas to check out include that Henderson’s Point shoreline, Sherwood Point and Larsens Reef just to name a few. The options are endless especially when you go up north, fishermen just need to do some venturing. The best baits include Oddball jigs, Rapala jigs, Rippin’ Raps, Slab Raps and Moonshine Shiver Minnows tipped with minnows
Pike fishing also is going very good throughout the county. Areas to target include Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay, Sawyer Harbor, downtown Sturgeon Bay, including the Sturgeon Bay flats, and the Potowatomi State Park shoreline. And now with better ice cover, fishermen can start to try their luck to the north like in Egg Harbor, Fish Creek and Ephraim.
Brown trout fishing seems to be getting better as the ice gets thicker now that fishermen can head up north and set up in some those northern Door County harbors and marinas safely. Suspend golden shiners and large lake shiners under tip-ups from as shallow as 5 feet of water out to 20 feet.
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
There haven’t been too many anglers out with this horrible weather. It is the time of the year that we always seem to have this cold weather, no matter what it has been before this. We sure look forward to the end of this cold snap and some decent weather for February. Ice is getting thicker with the weather, but it is still O.K. to get around. Some roads are heaving pretty badly, so thing are getting “bumby” out there. Again, it’s that time of year. Walleye fishing has been O.K., but not too great with the cold weather. The evening and night fishing has been the best, and shiners or suckers under tip-ups is still holding. Deeper water jigging is producing some fish for those who can stand the weather. Northerns have slowed with the weather, but you can still get some fish in the afternoons. Sunny days are the best. Use larger shiners.
Panfish action has been reduced by the lack of anglers out there. Crappies are roaming in schools in deeper water now, but even that action has slowed with the weather. Use good electronics when fishing for these guys to find the schools. It is hard to keep a lot of holes open in this cold, but as it warms you’ll find guys digging a number of holes and searching for these fish.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
FLORENCE COUNTY AREA
Fishing pressure has been light. Bitter cold temperatures have hit the area and will continue for another few days. On the bright side, that means the lakes are making lots of ice. Anglers who braved the cold had lots of elbow room and were rewarded with some nice catches.
The crappie action has been excellent. Fishermen are finding them suspended in about 16 feet of water. They’ve been hitting on waxies and rosy red minnows. Anglers are having continued success catching northern pike. A few fish over 30 inches have been reported. Shiners and suckers under tip-ups seem to be performing equally well. Look for these fish near vegetation.
The walleye bite remains steady. Tip-ups and jigging with rattle spoons or vertical jigs are producing good results.
Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
Some Fox River anglers at Fox Point landing and Voyageur Park reported catching a small handful of walleyes, while other parties didn’t catch anything at all. Most anglers used jigs with minnows. Ice was reported to be 9 to 12 inches thick. In the Longtail Point area, fishing pressure was low. There were reports of a few keeper perch caught and a few northerns caught on tip-ups. Hook Road fishing pressure was high, with reports of perch, walleyes and northern pike being caught in recent weeks. A makeshift parking area was created on the ice near the curved part of the road.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
This frigid cold will help build ice, but anglers will have to be cautious of changes that come with ice building. It is probable shorelines will expand and fresh new cracks develop as ice releases pressure, so be very cautious. The lakes are offering a consistent bite, with shiners and suckers on tip-ups getting some decent catches. Walleye action slowed some, but there is northern pike and bass activity off weed edges. Panfish are active, with crappies moving towards deeper holes. Mobility pays dividends and hole-hopping is ideal for better catches. Tungsten jigs tipped with soft plastics or minnows are the best presentations for success.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
IRON COUNTY AREA
Ice conditions have been good and are now getting better in the Mercer area because of extended cold temperatures. Anglers fishing from heated shanties during the cold snap were still catching walleyes and panfish, but the reports haven’t been red hot. Action will improve as temperatures moderate. Lake travel is still good.
Turtle River Trading Co., Mercer, (715) 476-0123.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
Recent cold temperatures improved ice conditions on lakes. Most smaller lakes and bays now have 8 to 10 inches of ice. The deeper basins on Nagawicka, Oconomomoc, Pine, Okauchee, Mendota, Delavan, and Lake Geneva froze over Jan. 21. But, because of a recent snowfall, do not venture over the main basins on these lakes. Pewaukee Lake also has some areas of concern.
Bluegill action is best around green weeds in 5 to 12 feet of water. There are some lakes where bluegills were found in 20 to 30 feet of water. A flasher is needed to catch these fish as often they are suspended off the bottom. Tungsten ice jigs were preferred when fishing deeper water. Waxies, spikes, and wigglers work best for live bait.
Crappies are most active during early morning hours or just before dusk. Look for them suspended above weeds or wood in 8 to 15 feet of water or suspended over 20 to 30 feet, often just a few feet below the ice. Small jigging lures produced on aggressive crappies. Present the bait above the school as crappies feed up. Perch were found in 8 to 15 feet of water over sand flats with scattered green weed clumps, near the bottom. Tungsten jigs loaded with spikes or a piece of minnow have produced. Try tip-ups or tip-downs for larger perch.
Northern pike will be found around shallower weed beds. Place baits just above the tops of weeds for best results. Brined jumbo smelt on a smelt rig can also work great, especially for big pike. Walleye fishing was best when fishing shallow during dark hours and deeper during daylight hours. Use tip-ups baited with golden shiners, chubs, suckers, or two large fatheads. Jigs tipped with a minnow head will attract aggressive walleyes.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
There is 12 inches or better of ice on Lake Poygan. Guys have been catching a few walleyes, but things haven’t been going crazy. Anglers are also catching a few small perch. The sturgeon spearing season opens Saturday, Feb. 9. There will be plenty of ice on Poygan for the spearing season.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.
Lake Mendota did cover up with ice before the snow came. There should be at least 4 to 5 inches, but be careful of expansion cracks. There is one good sized expansion crack on Lake Mendota. Anglers can get across it, but use caution. Water has come up on the ice, mixed with the snow and created some slush. James Madison Park and Union Bay was giving up some pike last week. Also use caution on Lake Monona, although the ice on The Triangle is fine where guys were catching panfish. Mud Lake action has been sparse. Lake Waubesa has been giving up some bluegills near Lake Farm Park, but the bite has been spotty. Same for the perch out there.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
MARATHON COUNTY AREA
Holy weather report Batman! Only in Wisconsin. Talk about being in the deep freeze. Low temperatures and minimal snow cover have driven the ice down on most area waters. Auger extensions may be in order soon as winter’s far from over. Reports are mixed, but one thing is for sure, northern pike are still the catch of the day on Lake Wausau. Large golden shiners on tip-ups are catching pike all day long. Walleyes are a little hit-and-miss. The main reports are coming from the Big Eau Pleine Flowage. Reports from the Eau Claire River have slowed considerably since the season started. Bluegills and northerns are commonly caught on the Eau Claire River, but as of late have been giving anglers a hard bite. February is traditionally fishing derby time. Check with local bait shops for more information. These events serve as fundraisers for numerous charitable groups.
Riverside Rentals & Bait Shop, (715) 574-1771.
There were reports of very high fishing pressure at the Oconto Harbor last week. Anglers had luck in past days catching whitefish. At Oconto Park 2, a small number of shanties were present, but reports are of mainly small perch being caught. Fishing pressure was low at the mouth of the Peshtigo River.
On the Menominee River, the Sixth Street slip had a few anglers out on the ice. They reported catching a mixed bag of keeper perch, smaller northerns, a few smelt, and small walleyes.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
It’s gotten plenty chilly outside. Most days last week no one was seeing temps above 0 degrees, and wind chills in the -30 to -50 range kept anglers off the ice (and who can blame them).
If there is a bright side to this (and you’ve got to look very hard) most of the heavy snow is south of the Northwoods. The lack of snow cover on the ice is allowing these super cold days (and nights) of air temps to build more ice. Truck travel is improving all around. With ice thickness running 20 to 24 inches now, and building, this should help ensure for some good ice into March.
Crappies: Good to very good – not in the shallows of 12 feet or less, but out over deep water of 15 to 28 feet. Use minnows (small rosie reds or fatheads) on dead sticks or small floats (inside shacks, tip-downs don’t work well in these temps). Tungsten jigs tipped with spikes or even plastics (white, chartreuse, glow) are also working.
Perch: Fair – the best bite is deeper. Shallow fish are not eating, it seems. Use Hali jigs to get spikes or wigglers to the bottom in hurry. Bang the bottom to stir up the mud.
Northern pike: Fair to poor. There has been some tip-up action, but it’s tough to keep holes open without use of cover. Be prepared to keep your catch when fishing under sub-zero temps; eyes and fins freeze quickly. Don’t waste these fish.
Walleyes: Poor. A few are being caught just before dark, but most anglers are off the ice before then. Suckers or large fatheads are working the best.
Bluegill: Poor. Most anglers are in the shallows (less than 12 feet) where they are seeing the same thing – uninterested fish. Go extremely small on jigs and use a single spike or tiny plastic.
This cold snap looks to be bottoming out by Jan. 30. This should help anglers’ attitudes, as well as the attitudes of fish. Access to lakes will be excellent for truck, ATV and snowmobile use.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
Area lakes had at least 15 inches of ice last week, with more coming because of the deep sub-zero temperatures. Folks are fishing for walleyes on Connors Lake and crappies on Lake of the Pines. Mason and Evergreen lakes are being fished for crappies, walleyes and perch.
Bridge Bait and Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108.
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.