Report from the Dock
If your heart is set on going ice fishing one last time, you can probably find lakes to do that in the very northern part of the state and on the biggest of lakes, but for most intents and purposes, the ice-fishing season is over. Main lake ice is deteriorating quickly, with shorelines in even worse shape – even across the northern part of the state. There were some pretty good crappie reports last week in areas with open water. Many lakes all around the state with open water or some open-water areas have started producing crappies and a few bluegills, which is encouraging since these lakes still had some ice on them last week. Look for other areas to follow suit, if water temperatures have the opportunity to warm up. If it stays cool, you should be able to find crappies staged just outside those traditional spring locations in slightly deeper water. Some anglers have reported northern pike are starting to run in creeks in certain areas (even where ice is still on lakes) and others are fishing small streams and catching redhorse and suckers. Time to get the long rods and boats out.
The small lakes and bays are open and any main lake ice that remained early last week was floating and expected to be gone by this week. Anglers have just started to get out and look for crappies in the shallows, but success has been light. The shop is open, but with limited hours.
Country Store, (715) 268-7482.
Chequamegon Bay was still ice-covered last week but the ice is shifting and deteriorating so ice fishing is no longer encouraged. Fishermen are beginning to get their boats out and there have been some good trolling reports off Saxon Harbor and Sand Bay. Smelting is just around the corner, but locals are asking that visitors don’t come from outside of the area to smelt or fish at this time. Ashland County is under a travel advisory due the “Safer at Home” order and the city of Ashland has closed all city beaches, docks, and piers through May 5. As a result, there will be no smelting at Ashland city public beaches, docks, or piers. For more information, call the Ashland Parks and Recreation Office at (715) 682-7059.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
Many of the small lakes are ice-free, but there was still some ice on most of the big lakes, although it too was melting away last week. People are just starting to test their open-water fishing options and the shop is open normal business hours.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
Brown trout fishing has been pretty good overall for the trollers and the shore fishermen. Now that most of the ice has left, fishermen have been fishing the lakeside and the bayside of the peninsula and having some fair to good success, depending on the day. Shore fishermen, along with some boat fishermen, have been casting with spoons like Krokodiles and Cleos along with a variety of suspending jerkbaits. Trollers have been having most of their success in waters less than 15 feet with floating baits like Rapalas and Thundersicks, along with spoons like Maulers. Stream fishermen are having very good success in the Lake Michigan tributaries as the streams are high and the runoff has been very good with more rain in the forecast. Drifting with spawn has been the No. 1 method, folloed by casting small spinners. Pike action has been OK up until this point, but will only get better once those fish move out of their spawn and into their post-spawn patterns. Try dragging suckers and trolling and casting large jerkbaits and spoons. Walleye fishing has also been just OK up until this point, mainly because the ice just left for the most part. The best success has been from fishermen dragging suckers and casting Rippin’ Raps, blades, and paddletails
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
The lakes are in transition from ice to open water, so ice fishing is over with, for all intents and purposes. Overnight lows below freezing last week slowed ice departure, but guys have started poking around the edges of the ice sheets in places where they can wade or launch boats in search of panfish. Everything should be full go for the fishing opener on Saturday, May 2.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
The Fox River was on fire last week, with the majority of the fish being caught near the De Pere dam and the Hwy. 172 flats, with jigging and trolling working the best. Some nice walleyes are also being caught from the metro launch wall by jigging. The Oconto and Peshitgo rivers are also producing some nice walleyes, but the bad news is the Oconto city boat launches are closed.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
There’s still some ice on the big lakes, but it seems to be going out fast. Most small lakes and bays are now ice-free and open-water fishing has started on a limited basis. There hasn’t been much of a crappie bite to report, but the catch-and-release trout season on the Namekagon River is going well and most small streams and creeks are producing suckers and redhorse. The store is operating with normal business hours. Catch-and-release fishing opened for largemouth and smallmouth bass April 1 and dams and rivers are probably the best bet for open-water fishing. Turkey season opens April 15 and the toms are calling and strutting.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
IRON COUNTY AREA
Ice conditions on the lakes are deteriorating quickly. Some of the smaller lakes have open water around the shoreline. Some crappies were being caught in the deeper lake basins. There were a couple of fisherman out on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage last week, so the ice was still safe in some areas, but not all. Wait for open water.
Flambeau Flowage Sports, Mercer, (715) 476-2526.
LA CROSSE AREA
River levels are high, but fishermen are still getting after it, whether from boats or from shore. Turkey hunters are also gearing up for the coming seasons. Turkey numbers appear to be very strong throughout the area.
Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.
Bob’s Bait and Tackle, (608) 782-5552.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
The inland lakes are ice free. It’s time to hit the water for panfish. The key to catching panfish now is to look for the warmest water temperature and greening weeds. Prevailing winds will help determine which part of the lake to look for the warmest water. During warm, sunny days bluegills and crappies may move into shallow, dark bottomed bays, channels, and marsh areas in search of warm water and food. When panfish are in these shallow areas, use the trolling motor and make long casts so you don’t spook the fish. The Rock River in Jefferson and Fort Atkinson have produced walleyes, saugers, and a few catfish.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
Walleyes are hitting throughout the Wolf River system now, with most of the walleyes now being post-spawn. The walleye bite has been fantastic – just pull flies or use a jig and minnow. Crappies and bluegills have now started to bite. The perch are done spawning and that bite should pick up any time now. The turkeys are getting fired up. There have been many local reports of toms strutting for hens.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.
No report available. The shop is closed under current COVID-19 orders.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
The big lakes were still carrying quite a bit of ice last week, but most of the smaller lakes were at least open around the edges for a good 60 to 150 yards, depending on lake size. Walleye action should be peaking by the time the fishing opener arrives on Saturday, May 2.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
As of April 9, most of the ice blew off the Phillips chain and guys were in boats and catching crappies. Musser Lake opened April 8. Most of the area flowages opened by then. Most of the natural lakes were still ice-covered as of that date, but the ice really isn’t fishable. A lot of guys were also catching redhorse on the North Fork and South Fork of the Flambeau Rivers, as well as the Jump River. Guys who were out looking for turkeys say they’ve been seeing a good number of birds.
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.
Many small lakes and bays are ice-free or partially open, but there was plenty of ice on the bigger bodies of water early this week. Anglers have started getting their boats out and preparing for open water fishing with the ice going out. The shop continues to be open regular business hours.
AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011.