Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Wisconsin Outdoor News Fishing Report – March 31, 2022

Report from the Dock

The ice fishing season has pretty much ended in the central and southern parts of the state. Shoreline ice has pulled away and main lake ice is no longer safe to be on. Some lakes are already mostly wide open. If you want to fish through the ice this weekend, you’ll likely have to travel north, where there was still 30 inches of ice, as of March 28, in most Iron, Price, Oneida, Forest and Vilas county lakes. Depending on how far north you go, you should either plan on walking or using ATVs and snowmobiles. With the cold weather this past week, lake conditions have actually firmed up in a lot of areas to the north and most shorelines and access points are holding up as well. Even though ice fishing options remain in the northern part of the state, the number of people venturing out has really dropped off. The cold and windy conditions had a lot of anglers putting their winter gear away. They are now content to scout for turkeys and wait for open water options to develop. If you head north for panfish, look at the shallow weeds to hold fish.

AMERY AREA

Hit Bear Trap Lake in 10 to 14 feet of water or Big Round Lake in 10 to 12 feet for panfish and crappies. White Ash Lake, Balsam Lake, and Deer Lake are kicking out bluegills and a few crappies in less than 12 feet of water. Main lake ice conditions are in good shape, although some shorelines have opened, so walking out is the best option.

Country Store, (715) 268-7482.

ASHLAND AREA

We are still seeing decent ice on Chequamegon Bay in most areas, however, it’s the stuff on top that makes it difficult. Most of the ice is covered in water, slush, and snow. This cover is making travel difficult. Don’t try to drive vehicles (especially with trailers) onto the ice. Right now the best way to get out is by foot or, in some areas, a snowmobile. The approaches are dissipating fast, and will most likely be completely unusable soon. Steelhead season is now open.

Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.

River Rock, (715) 682-3232.

DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA

The late-season walleye bite has been good, but anglers who do venture out should use extreme caution. Little Sturgeon, Rileys Bay, Sandbay along with Sawyer Harbor are all favorite spots to target during last ice. Oddball jigs and Rapala jigs tipped with minnows are the go-to bait. There are still some near-shore whitefish opportunities throughout Door County. Be aware of wind direction at all times as ice can separate and push away from shore. 

The pike fishing has been outstanding and will continue right through ice-out in any shallow bay as pike move shallow to spawn. There have been decent brown trout reports on the ice and open water. Fishermen are targeting browns via ice on the bay side of the peninsula and by boat on the lake side. And there has been a decent early run of steelhead in Lake Michigan tributaries. With more rain in the forecast, more fish should be following. Drifting spawn is the main method.

In the Algoma/Kewaunee area, the steelhead and sucker run is on in the Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers, as well as some of the smaller tributaries. It’ll peak in mid-April. Brown trout anglers have had success trolling crankbaits and spoons behind planer boards in 10 to 20 feet of water in the Lake Michigan shallows. Very few have been caught by the pier and shore casters, but that could change when trout follow smelt and alewives into near-shore waters.

Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.

EAGLE RIVER AREA

The area hasn’t seen the best ice fishing weather lately. Not many anglers have been out. With significant slush and mandatory shack removal, guys simply won’t go out until some decent weather and more sun arrives to make it almost “T-shirt” time. That is a lot to look forward to, because the last ice offers some of the best panfishing of the ice season. One angler caught a bunch of crappies on Boot Lake right on the weed edge, but they were not large. 

Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.

GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA

The bumper-boat fest is going strong on the Fox River, with walleyes being caught from the mouth of the river to the dam in De Pere. Docks are still not in at most of the launches. To avoid a long walk and wait time at the launches in De Pere, lots of fishermen are launching at metro in Green Bay and fishing their way to De Pere. Also at metro landing, the crappie bite is going strong, and walleyes and pike are being caught at night. Lower Green Bay should be open in a couple of days, so University Bay should be rocking soon.

Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 593 1749.

HAYWARD AREA

Some shorelines have started to open, but anglers were using snowmobiles or walking out on most lakes early this week. Crappies and bluegills are being caught in 15 to 20 feet of water on the Chippewa Flowage, Spring Lake, and Smith Lake or Nelson Lake in 7 feet of water. Lake Chetek and the Chippewa Flowage have been producing yellow perch in less than 10 feet of water.

Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.

IRON COUNTY AREA

Lakes are still locked up with more than 24 inches of ice and the snow is about the same. The area has seen unseasonably cold weather, with some more snow coming the last two weeks. Locals caught some 9-inch perch and smaller crappies last week in 12 to 15 feet a foot off the bottom, using small plastics and fatheads on 1⁄64-ounce tungsten jigs. Predictions would be once the warm-up comes and snow starts melting and water runs down the holes, then maybe the crappies and bluegills will start. The longer days have gotten the deer and turkeys moving around as we’ve seen more of both in the Mercer. Bald eagles and owls are on nests already so even though the winter has been relentless, these are concrete signs of spring.

Flambeau Flowage Sports, Mercer, (715) 476-0123.

LA CROSSE AREA

The cold weather has really slowed down the walleye and perch fishing on the Mississippi River. While anglers were catching walleyes or perch below the dams before this last cold stretch, everything shut down pretty hard over the last week. The good news is that the ice is mostly gone from the river. Things will certainly kick back in with any upward movement in temperature in the coming weeks.

Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.

Island Outdoors, (608) 782-5552.

LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES

Now is the time to be targeting walleyes on the rivers where water temperatures were in the upper 30s last week. The Rock River in Jefferson and Fort Atkinson has produced walleyes, saugers and a few catfish. The Wisconsin River at the Dells, Prairie du Sac and Nekoosa also have been giving up walleyes. Most of the area’s smaller lakes are now open. It’s time to hit the water for panfish. During warm, sunny days bluegills and crappies will move into shallow bays, channels, and marsh areas. Afternoon and evening hours are the best times to fish when the water will be warmest. The catch-and-release bass season is now in effect. 

Anglers have been fishing the Lake Michigan harbors for brown trout by casting a jigs dressed with a 4-inch plastics, or by soaking a spawn sac or golden shiner under a slip bobber. Casting Acme Cleos or Kastmasters can also produce. The Root, Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Pike rivers have produced a few steelhead.

DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.

Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.

LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA

Anglers have been battling ice flows on the river for some time now, but they were starting to catch a few walleyes at night from piers in Winneconne last week. The river was still heavily jammed up with ice as of March 30. Based on the fish being caught at night, it appears as though most walleyes have gone upriver under the ice.

Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.

Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.

Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.

MADISON AREA

The ice is more or less gone on the Madison chain, but last week yet there was not enough room to put in a boat and fish around the remaining ice floes. There is some open water to fish at Cherokee Marsh, Monona Bay, and Lake Waubesa, where the panfish are moving up into the shallow water. Most anglers are heading to the big rivers for some walleye fishing.

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

Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.

MARINETTE/OCONTO AREA

The walleye action is starting to pick up near the bridge. There are some females, but they are smaller and the eggs are still really tight and hard. Within the next one to two weeks the run should be on, depending on the weather. Last week two tug boats ran up and down the Lower Menominee River breaking up the ice. Hopefully that will be enough to push a lot of that ice out of the river so anglers can start fishing out of boats. The browns have also been pretty plentiful throughout the river. A little less than half the fish registered in the local derby the last two weeks were browns and rainbows. The current has been moving pretty steady.

A&K Bait & Tackle, (715) 732-9595.

MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA

With windy, cold temps this past week, few reports came in, but there were reports of quality panfish. Yellow perch action was good to very good. A lack of “deep” perch is being reported, but anglers are finding fish being found in 8 to 12 feet near weed edges. Medium fatheads and rosies have been the best bet. Don’t be afraid to try wigglers, as well. Bluegill action rating is the same, with weeds seeming to be key to finding bluegills with waxies and spikes on jigs. Big bluegills have been shallow, as in 4 to 8 feet. Crappie action has been good. With fish hanging around shallow spots with weeds, crappies have been in 6 to 10 feet and mixed in with the bluegills. Basin fishing is also producing, as well, with a couple reports of 14-inch fish. There is plenty of ice yet – as much as 30 inches. Expect the ice to stick around for a while longer.

Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.

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

PRICE COUNTY AREA

Crappie action has been good on weed edges up to 10 feet deep. Anglers report good success with minnows, waxies, spikes, and plastics. Bluegill fishing is very good on shallow weed beds in 3 to 10 feet of water. Anglers are using waxies and spikes, but plastics work best for bigger bluegills. The perch fishing is picking up. Anglers are catching them on mud flats in 3 to 10 feet and any live bait on jigs for small spoons.

St. Croix Rods, (715) 762-3226.

Ross’s Sport Shop, (715) 339-3625.

SIREN AREA

Anglers were still fishing away on the ice as of March 30, but despite the cold weather that held on last week, shorelines and access points had started to deteriorate. The ice will hang on a while longer, but thoughts are switching to turkey scouting and open water.

Big Mike’s Outdoor Sports Shop, (715) 349-2400.

SPOONER AREA

Most panfish are moving to shallow weed beds that are seeing more light pushing through the ice. Some anglers are moving on to open water in the south, so fishing here should be good with less pressure. Crappies are in weeds in 7 to 10 feet in bays that have good light penetration. Bluegills and pumpkinseeds are there, too. Perch fishing is good with jigging spoons fished aggressively around deep weeds.

AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011.

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