Report from the Dock
The first ice fishing reports of the season were offered up last week. Reports were limited, but the good news is that some ice has taken hold in northern parts of the state and seemed to be holding up despite some wind and warmer daytime weather last week. Obviously, the northern half of the state has better ice conditions, especially on the small, shallow lakes and bays. Anglers have started walking out on 2 to 4 inches of ice in some locations. There’s even been some people getting on a handful of skinny water lakes in the central parts of the state. You need to use extreme caution, check ice depths as you venture out, and use the contacts in this report for up to the minute ice conditions heading into this weekend. Most big lakes were still open or had pockets of open water last week, while others were covered. But the season has started and reports from most areas indicated that there should be increased fishing activity this weekend.
Some small, shallow lakes have 3 to 4 inches of ice in select areas, but much thinner ice in other spots. Most big lakes or anything with some depth still had open water early this week. There hasn’t been anything to report from anglers as far as a bite. Anecdotal reports from opening weekend of the firearms deer season indicated a strong start, good deer movement, and quite a few nice bucks shot.
Country Store, (715) 268-7482.
Browns and salmon are scattered in Chequamegon Bay and off the mouth of the rivers, with some being caught in rivers at Fish Creek and the Sioux and others. Keep in mind that lake trout fishing is closed in Lake Superior Wisconsin waters until
Dec. 1. Bass fishing is fantastic in the bay, however, heavy winds can make it difficult to get out so be sure and check the forecast. Inland muskie fishing has been great with some nice muskies being caught. There are cool temps and some skim ice is forming, but it is not safe at all yet.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
Perch fishing has been fantastic when you are able to get out on the water. Sawyer Harbor and Little Sturgeon have been the best areas this fall and that fishing will stay good right up until ice fishing in 5 to 13 feet of water on fathead minnows. Bass fishing has also been good as they push out to deeper water as it cools down. That fishing, too, will stay good right up until it just gets too cold to be out there. Pike fishing has also been great as those fish are having a ball feeding on all those perch in the shallows, so Little Sturgeon and Sawyer Harbor are just a couple of the obvious spots to fish. Brown trout action has been fair along the northern Door County peninsula; not huge numbers like years ago, but some fish nevertheless. The night walleye bite has been really good, as it usually is this time of year. Some big fish are being caught. Try Henderson’s Point, Sherwood Point and Larsen’s Reef while trolling crankbaits along the shoreline drop-offs and on the tops of reefs.
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
The transition between fall and winter continues, with enough cold weather to begin building ice on smaller lakes. Water temperatures are dropping, and soon we’ll see some serious icing on many lakes. It’s been a strange late fall, with many small lakes having frozen over though as of last week, but just barely. There is little fishing left from an open-water standpoint, but there remains a few dedicated walleye anglers out there. They have been hitting walleyes on the Eagle River Chain in the holes, which is an annual pattern. Jigs and minnows retrieved slowly and near the bottom have been productive.
All lakes on the chain have a hole or two, and the fish winter in these holes. Off the chain anglers will find walleyes in 15 to 35 feet of water along deep drop-offs. Also, try some deep rock bars.
With the cisco spawn having started, this is a great time to look for big muskies and walleyes in cisco-spawning areas. The rut is on big time for deer hunters; this should produce good daytime activity.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
With the cold and rainy weather, fishing on Green Bay has slowed down. On the upside, the Fox River is doing very well for walleyes, perch and muskies. The warm water discharges seem to be the hot spot for all species. Trolling and jigging are the preferred methods for catching these fish.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
Just about everything is ice-covered, even the big, deep lakes. Anglers have started walking out on most small to mid-size lakes and they’re finding 3 to 4 inches of ice – a bit more on some bays and shallow bodies of water. While the winter season has started, fishing reports have been limited.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
IRON COUNTY AREA
The open-water fishing has ended and there was some skim ice last week. When safe ice does arrive, that ice should produce walleyes in flats adjacent to deep water, crappies will be deep in 20 to 30 feet of water, and northerns will be on deep weed edges.
Grouse have been flushing along swamp edges – heavy cover like spruce/balsam. The rut is in full swing, with scrapes being worked and does being chased. Bucks are responding to grunt calls.
Flambeau Flowage Sports, (715) 476-2526.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
In Sheboygan, fishing pressure has been low along the shoreline and on the Sheboygan River Anglers were fishing the Kohler dam and the town of Kohler sheds last week, but not with a lot of success – only a few cohos and king salmon on spawn sacs.
In Port Washington, the utility discharge at Coal Dock Park saw very little activity, but a few anglers have been out looking for rainbow and brown trout.
Milwaukee River anglers have caught a few brown trout. Expect to see more cohos and trout in the coming weeks. Try spinners, spoons, spawn sacs (especially pink color), crankbaits, and marshmallows.
In Racine, Root River anglers have been finding a few cohos by using flies or spawn. At the Horlick dam, anglers began targeting steelhead and brown trout. A healthy mix of brown trout, steelhead, and cohos were caught on flies, yarn, and fake eggs.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
Anglers are still catching walleyes in the river at Winneconne. They’re also finding bluegills in the channels. Duck hunters have been seeing good waterfowl movement on the river in the Winneconne area.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.
Quite a few anglers have been catching walleyes around the chain from shore on lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa and Kegonsa. They’re mostly using crankbaits and landing a number of decent walleyes. Things on the muskie side have been a little quiet.
There has been some panfish action in Monona Bay. Guys have also had some luck on Lake Wisconsin in the river channel and near the railroad trestle. There has also been some walleye action below the Prairie du Sac dam on the Wisconsin River.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
Last week the whitefish, walleyes and perch were biting in the lower Menominee River. Anglers have their fingers crossed for some cold weather needed to build some better ice than what was available last week.
In Oconto County, fishing activity picked up a little with most anglers after perch at Oconto Park II and the docks at the Oconto breakwater. Some limits of perch were seen with anglers having to put in their time to get them. Most anglers were out several hours with an average of 10 to 15 perch caught. Minnows were the best bait with most perch running
6 to 9 inches.
A&K Bait and Tackle, (715) 732-9595.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Anglers in Vilas and Oneida counties are awaiting some colder weather that will eventually bring in some safe ice. Some smaller lakes had skimmed over last week, but the bigger lakes were still open.
In the meantime, guys are hitting the woods and waters for deer, grouse and ducks with some decent luck in all three directions.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
A lot of the area lakes have skimmed over with ice, but there isn’t enough to walk on and there is too much to punch through to launch a boat. Some guys have been going to the South Fork of the Flambeau River where they have caught some walleyes, muskies, and even some catfish.
Hunters are still seeing some grouse, but the county has seen a lot of traffic from visiting hunters this fall and the birds in the places that are easily accessed have been pounded pretty hard.
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.