Report from the Dock
It got cold enough over the past week to freeze much of the slush that was limiting where people could get to. Lakes across the state still aren’t in the best condition, but there was a lot more fishing activity this past week. In some areas, trucks have even started being used, but there are still lakes that have a lot of slush pockets out there, not to mention pressure cracks. You might see some trucks out there, but no one is recommending truck travel yet. Watch the weather – any more snow could once again create sloppy lake conditions. A word of advice here: if you do have enough ice to drive a vehicle on, continue to drive slowly, especially where roads have been plowed. While ice depths have improved, they are not where they should be this time of year and driving fast will push water under the ice and that can cause issues. With more people venturing out and more lakes to fish, reports of success also have improved. Walleye action was probably as good this past week as it has been all winter in many areas, especially during low-light periods. Panfish and northern pike seem to be biting as well.
The slush has froze on most lakes so ATVs are a good travel option, but trucks have started being used on a few lakes. Look for suspended crappies over 15 to 25 feet on Balsam Lake and Deer Lake or over 12 feet on Big Round Lake. There’s some evening walleye action on Big Round in 12 to 14 feet and Lake Wapogasset in 14 to 20 feet. Tip-ups and suckers are producing northern pike on the 10- to 14-foot weeds at White Ash Lake, East Balsam Lake, Bear Trap Lake, and Big Round.
Country Store, (715) 268-7482.
The Ashland side of Chequamegon Bay has good ice of 8 to 10 inches thick, with 12 inches in some areas. We do not advise driving vehicles out onto the ice at this point. There is still quite a bit of snow cover and slushy in some areas. Anglers are bringing in perch, walleyes, and some splake, as well as a few browns and whitefish. There is not a lot of smelt running on this side yet, so the trout species haven’t hit hard on this side of the bay.
Heading north across the bay, the Bono Creek area has about 6 to 8 inches of ice. Anglers are catching a lot of browns right now. On the Washburn side up to Houghton Point they are catching splake, browns, whitefish, and a few cohos. Farther up the bay around the Sioux and Onion rivers, anglers report an abundance of cohos. Closer to Bayfield, the ice is still “sketchy,” so use caution when heading out. However, as for the fishing, there have been good reports of lake trout, cohos, and browns.
Ice on the inland lakes is still good, but there is a lot of snow cover and some areas of slush. Anglers are bringing in crappies and Walleyes.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
Walleye reports continue to be minimal, but northern pike are being caught in 8 to 12 feet on most lakes with suckers. Panfish and crappies also remain active with good reports coming off lakes such as Upper Turtle, Lower Turtle, Beaver Dam, and Staples. The slushy conditions have improved and anglers are able to get around easier on most lakes with snowmobiles and ATVs.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
Perch fishing reports have been very good up until this point. The best areas have been Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay and Sawyer Harbor, as these are the only areas with truly safe ice. Fish in 5 to 18 feet of water and steer clear of large groups of fishermen. Northern pike fishing also has been pretty good in all of the shallow bays, including areas in downtown Sturgeon Bay around the marinas. Try golden shiners and suckers under tip-ups. Whitefish action has been OK for the fishermen that are sticking around near-shore areas like in Little Sturgeon and Sturgeon Bay. As of now, venturing out deep is still a bit dangerous as there are still active cracks as the ice breaking continues in the county. Walleye fishermen also are still waiting to get out to their off shore hot spots, but that should come soon as we are supposed to get some cold weather here in the very near future
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
Walleye fishing has been good, with reports of this good fishing throughout the area. There is an early morning bite, and then a very good evening bite. Setting tip-ups with shiners or suckers is the most common way to fish for them. Some anglers are reporting decent action jigging in the afternoons with minnow heads. Northern action also is very good on all lakes that have them. Locations vary, but generally fish in the weeds or near them. Panfish action has been great all year. The crappie fishing on the Eagle River Chain and on the Rainbow Flowage has been notable. You will find a lot of anglers on both areas. Bluegills have been in the weeds and are hitting on smaller teardrop jigs with waxies or red spikes. They can be suprisingly shallow, so move around to look for them. Perch are in 5 to 15 feet of water, generally near the bottom.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
FLORENCE COUNTY AREA
Fishermen are reporting 12 to 15 inches of ice thanks to the cold weather. The bluegill bite is hot right now. Tungsten jigs tipped with waxworms are producing the best bite. Perch and crappie action had been slow but it started to pick up last week. Walleye action has been steady. Catches are typically better around dusk or on overcast days. Try different set-ups in a couple of different holes to see what’s working. Try to choose a color from the red or orange spectrum. Vibration and movement is also important to remember if you want to attract these fish.
Whisler Outdoors, (715)528-4411.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
Walleyes are being caught off of Voyager Park in De Pere by the dam. Ice conditions there are pretty good. Jigs tipped with suckers are working great and so are spoons and rip jigs. By the Hwy. 172 bridge, perch, crappies and walleyes are being caught. By the metro launch, perch, northerns, and whitefish are being caught during the day. Walleyes are also biting at night. On Green Bay, Joliet Park is producing some whitefish and northerns on tip-ups. Dead Horse Bay on the west shore has a nice perch bite and they are picking up a few northerns.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
Northern pike are cruising everywhere. Tip-ups on deep weed edges are getting the most action. Crappies are starting to occupy deep water. Look for deep flats that relate to the deepest parts of the lake. Though they are roaming these flats, not all are schooling yet, so stay mobile with small jigging spoons tipped with waxies. Bluegills are on and around the edges of any good remaining weeds. Tip small jigs with waxies, spikes, and micro plastics, and be sure to work the deep edges and basin flats for bigger bluegills. Perch are nomadic now, and scattered across the lakes. As weed beds start dying off, look for perch with the crappies in deep water. Jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads and waxies are good choices.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
Recent cold temperatures have greatly improved ice conditions on the area’s inland lakes. Most of the smaller lakes and bays have between 3 to 6 inches of ice. Use caution when thinking about the deeper basins on Nagawicka, Oconomomoc, Okauchee, and Delavan.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
All of the lakes have good ice on them now, with a minimum of 8 inches across the chain. Anglers have been finding perch in the west basin of Lake Mendota, along with a few walleyes out on the bars. Lake Monona’s perch bite has been fairly steady.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
It’s hard to believe the extreme cold last week did not improve our travel conditions a whole lot. The cold temps did not build ice as expected on many area lakes. In fact, slush has become present on many waters. Northern pike action has been good, with windows of action very early the morning and again early afternoon. They have been weed related, though some anglers are starting to see pike push out into deeper weed lines. Perch action over mud flats is improving just outside weed flats in 18 to 26 feet on waxies, spikes and wigglers depending on their daily mood. Crappies have been fair. Head out to deeper water for early and late bites using glow jigs tipped with waxies or tip-downs with minnows (if not too cold). Keep moving until you locate crappies hanging 3 to 10 feet off bottom in 20 to 30 feet of water. Walleye action has been fair, with the best action at low light. Fishing deeper sand grass areas with chubs or suckers has worked best.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
The walleye bite slowed, but anglers are still catching fish. Many are still coming on suckers and shiners under tip-ups on deep weedlines. Northern pike action is slow, though anglers fishing shallow, dark lakes are catching fish on large suckers under tip-ups. Crappies are in main lake basins, and areas that drop into 25-30 feet will hold fish on most lakes. With the recent cold, many fish are suspending. Tipping small jigs with waxies and spikes will work well, but even in the colder weather, bigger spoons and rattle baits will trigger the school’s larger fish to take a look.
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.