Report from the Dock
The recent cool down has helped firm up a lot more slush throughout the lakes in northern Wisconsin, which has resulted in more fishing activity. While you still can’t drive just anywhere with a truck, roads and trails are being busted open and anglers also have had more of an opportunity to travel off these main travel areas than in weeks past. If driving trucks still isn’t an option on a given lake or certain area, you should be able to now travel with a snowmobile or ATV, which also wasn’t an option until recently. So what’s up with the bite? Walleyes are sluggish in most locations, providing short windows of feeding activity during low-light periods of the day – typical for this time of year. The most successful walleye anglers also seem to be downsizing their baits, implementing jigging baits and tip-ups, and staying on the move. Panfish reports have been a bit off as well. Many anglers have been commenting that they’re seeing crappies and bluegills on their electronics, but that it’s been pretty tough getting them to bite consistently.
Chequamegon Bay continues to fish well, with 14 to 18 inches of ice and very little snow. There are anglers driving trucks out from the city boat landing and Second Landing, but most are taking snowmobiles and wheelers. The Washburn side of the bay has up to 12 inches of ice and most anglers using machines. There is a “city” set up between Houghton Point and Long Island, and anglers report big brown trout, excellent whitefish fishing, and some splake. A load of anglers are going off Red Cliff and getting out to Basswood Island by walking and on machines, and most report good fishing for lake trout, brown trout, splake, and whitefish.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
Look for suspended crappies over 15 to 20 feet on Staples, Big Round, and Upper Turtle lakes. You’ll have to sort through some small fish on these lakes. Look for sunfish in 10 to 12 feet on Beaver Dam, Big Round, and Upper Turtle or in the bays of Bear Lake in 6 to 8 feet. Largemouth bass and small northern pike remain active on most lakes in less than 15 feet, but walleye action is slow.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
Even though a cold snap did thicken the ice and harden up the slush spots, use extreme caution while venturing out. A snowstorm covered up some of the cracks, so do your homework before heading out. Whitefish fishing has been very good, especially when you stay away from high traffic areas and the large groups of people. Too much noise equals an empty bucket. Areas to fish include Sugar Creek, Henderson’s Point, Riley’s Point, Sherwood Point, and Larsen’s Reef in anywhere from as shallow as 15 feet out to 60 feet. Use any variety of jigs, and spoons tipped with minnow pieces, waxies, and plastics.
Perch fishing has been pretty good and even better when you are by yourself. Little Sturgeon has probably been the most productive area, but other areas include Riley’s Bay and Sawyer Harbor. Best baits have been an assortment of jigs tipped with minnow pieces, wax worms, and spikes or suspend lake shiners under tip-ups
The northern pike fishing has also been good with some huge fish getting caught. Some areas to try include downtown Sturgeon Bay, the Sturgeon Bay flats, the Potawatomi Park shoreline, Sawyer Harbor, and the Little Sturgeon area.
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
We have been blessed with almost “normal” winter weather, and this has resulted in some improvement in the ice conditions. Pretty soon it will be March, and our thoughts will turn to panfish and to getting down to river walleye fishing spots in the spring. Walleye fishing is OK for this time of year, with anglers still getting some fish in the evenings using tip-ups on many area lakes. Cranberry and Yellow Birch lakes have been doing well, along with Catfish. Thicker ice has meant that we can now get around better for those longer jaunts out to those better spots. On the larger lakes with more depth, daytime jigging with vertical jigs tipped with minnow heads is getting much better. Look for 20 to 35 feet of water in with rock bars and drop-offs.
Panfish action has been pretty good for bluegills and perch in the weeds. Waxies or red spikes work very well for these fish. In general, the perch are a little deeper than the bluegills, and nearer the bottom. Crappie fishing in deeper water remains some of the best ice fishing at this time of year. Jig with waxies while using tip-downs and small minnows.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
FLORENCE COUNTY AREA
Slush has been a huge issue all winter. Recently we’ve had a nice stretch of colder overnight temperatures that has firmed everything up and made the lakes far more accessible for fishermen. Even with the improved conditions, there hasn’t been much fishing pressure. Those who are getting out there are reporting nice catches. The crappie bite is excellent right now. Those anglers targeting this species have been jigging with a variety of live baits and catching them around dusk. Walleye action has been good although most catches have been smaller. Shiners under tip-ups are producing the best bite.
Whisler Outdoors, (715)528-4411.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
Ice fishing has been up and down. The “normal places” guys like to fish are hard to reach due to the ice conditions. The Fox River had boats launching out of the De Pere fairgrounds last week and they were catching lots of walleyes. Smaller bays on Green Bay are producing some nice fish, but check on ice thickness. Whitefish and perch are being caught on the east shore; walleyes early in the morning or at dusk. The west shore had been producing perch, some walleyes and lots of pike.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
Ice conditions are still uncertain as the season moves into mid-February, with lakes holding about 15 inches of ice – the top consisting of several inches of compacted slush and snow. Some anglers are driving out vehicles, but most fishermen will not be doing so this winter. As weeds die off, fish are moving to shallower water or suspending higher up. Walleyes are most active at night, with the most productive bite windows from about 6:30-7:30 p.m. and again about 10 p.m. Suckers, shiners, and fatheads are the favored baits. Northern pike anglers are using suckers and shiners under tip-ups in about 8 to 12 feet.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
IRON COUNTY AREA
The slush has tightened up finally with no snow for almost two weeks and some colder nights. The ice thickness varies still, but it’s 10 to 15 inches in most areas. The best report has been on the northern bite, it was real good for a group set up in 2 to 4 feet of water with a sandy bottom. They used tip ups with shiners and landed four nice northerns. The overall bite may have improved with the ice tightening up, allowing for more light penetration, especially on sunny days. There have been reports of barred owls nesting and some breeding and nest activity for bald eagles – a sign that spring is on it’s way.
Flambeau Flowage Sports, (715) 476-2526.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
Ice conditions are the best they have been all winter! Warm days melted all the slush and helped “smooth out” the ice. Also, with no snow coverage and the cold temps at night, we have added some good ice. Use creepers. Bluegill action is best around green weeds in 5 to 14 feet of water. There are some lakes in the area where the gills were found in 20 to 30 feet of water. Perch are in 8 to 15 feet of water over sand flats with scattered green weed clumps. Walleye fishing was best when fishing shallow during dark hours and deeper during daylight hours.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
Sturgeon spearing action on the upriver lakes has been decent, but fewer than 100 sturgeon had been speared on Lake Winnebago as of Feb. 12. Guys got spearing shanties out in number on the north end of Winnebago over water as deep as 14 feet, but that’s more because ice conditions allowed their presence, not because it was their preferred spearing area. Ice conditions on Winnebago have improved to the point where some guys have been using ATVs, but caution is still urged.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Ice conditions became mostly favorable last week. Guys are chasing perch and walleyes over deeper water while using ATVs while others have been fishing pike in the bays. The Lake Mendota perch bite seems to be mostly in the western basin. Lake Monona’s bluegills are still providing some action, but the schools have been beat up pretty good this winter, so it’s taking a little longer to put together a catch. The Mud Lake bluegill bite has tapered off while Lake Waubesa anglers are fishing deep water for perch.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
MARATHON COUNTY AREA
Fishing reports have been noticeably less this year with anglers facing adverse travel conditions. Early-season snows on top of thin ice have created slushy conditions. As most ice in the county is more than safe for angling, there’s still a layer of water trapped in the snow. Anglers have been dealing with unplowed snow and rutted up landings, keeping many ice houses from being pulled out. Those who make it out have mostly been reporting good catches. Northern pike on Lake Wausau is still the topic of conversation. The largest to date went 39 inches and was caught on a golden shiner. Perch, bluegills and crappies have been reported throughout the region. The walleye catch seems to be a bit slow, with few reports, if any, of walleyes in the area. Our fishing calendar shows moderate to good fishing until Feb. 19 and good to excellent fishing from Feb. 20 through the end of the month.
Riverside Rentals & Bait Shop, (715) 574-1771.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Clear skies brought cold nights last week, freezing up hard the mess from the previous weekend. Travel is good for snowmobiles and ATVs. Despite ice thickness to 18 inches in some areas, the quality of ice keeps most anyone from recommending any truck or car travel.
Bluegills and crappies: Good to fair. Action slowed as the week progressed. It could have been the pressure of new ice being formed, or higher barometric readings. Some bluegills are in as shallow as 4 to 5 feet, but most anglers are working 7 to 12 feet where they are also finding crappies.
Northern pike: Good to fair. The best action has been on shiners or suckers.
Yellow perch: Fair to good. The cold snap actually opened up areas to fish perch that had been tough to reach previously – mud flats of 18 to 30 feet.
Walleye: Fair. Action is relegated to an evening bite mostly; well after dark on the full moon weekend. Suckers are the top choice for tip-up bait. A few anglers caught fish while jigging spoons tipped with minnow head.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
The recent blasts of cold weather have tightened things up considerably as far as the slush situation goes. Fishermen are now traveling around fairly well on snowmobiles and ATVs. The panfish and pike bite is decent and the walleye bite has been predictable during the normal feeding windows of dawn and dusk.
Ross’s Sport Shop, (715) 339-3625.