Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Early December fishing & hunting report


Anglers will find 3 to 5 inches of ice on the small lakes and bays, but thinner ice on the big, deep lakes. Panfish are being caught on Bear Trap Lake in 5 to 12 feet, and crappies are biting on North Twin Lake in 8 to 10 feet. There’s been a few walleyes being taken along the 12- to 14-foot weed edges on Big Round Lake and on Balsam Lake in 10 to 12 feet.

Country Store, (715) 268-7482.


Current fishing reports have been pretty light for Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior as anglers patiently await some ice. However, fishermen are starting to creep out on inland lakes where they are catching panfish, northern pike, and walleyes.

Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.

River Rock, (715) 682-3232.


We’re still looking at pretty “iffy” ice on some of the bigger lakes, but generally where people are going out, we’re hearing of ice from 3 to 6 inches. That will build quickly now. There doesn’t look to be any big snowfall coming, so this really is a fantastic start to the ice making and fishing season. Walleye fishing has started, but slowly because anglers are still somewhat limited in their ability to move around. We have heard some reports of great numbers and lots of fun with tip-ups using shiners and suckers. People have been reluctant to get out on the Eagle River Chain of Lakes because of the river current, so places that usually produce, like the Bullpen on Yellow Birch, have just not been fished yet. Northern pike action has started, but slowly, just as the walleye fishing. Most anglers are reluctant to get too far from shore just yet.

Look for the greenest weeds you can find. Panfish action has been decent, with some bluegills being caught in shallow weeds. When jigging for these fish in the shallows, try pulsing the jig and dead-sticking to see what’s working at the moment.

Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.


Ice fishermen have been getting out on some area lakes during the past week. Up to 6 inches of ice has been reported. Walleye action has been good. Suckers under tip-ups has resulted in some nice catches. The perch bite also has been decent. Anglers were having the best luck in the late afternoon hours while jigging with minnows.

Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411.


The walleye bite continues to be good on the Fox River for anyone who can still get to open water. During the day, edges of current are holding the most fish. Hair jigs, blade
baits and crankbaits on the rocks are catching the most fish. Trolling
below the Hwy. 172 flats and around University Bay was consistent,
though ice formation on the bay has pretty much taken away that option.
Shore fishing has been good out of the metro launch and at Voyager Park
with nice catches of perch, walleye, and pike.

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


Walleyes are scattered shallow in 5 to 10 feet, where they will be most accessible and easiest to find during winter.

Suckers and shiners on small treble hooks fished under tip-ups, left alone on
quiet ice, are the ticket. For anglers who are jigging, large fatheads
can be deadly. Live bait is the key at this time. Northern pike are
roaming shallow waters for a daytime bite, with catches coming on
suckers and large shiners under tip-ups. For larger pike, soak a smelt
on a quick-strike rig about a foot or so off bottom. Crappies and
bluegills are on weedlines and in basins, but since no one can fish the
basin bite effectively right now without going swimming, this limits
fishing to the shallow weedline bite. Try 6 to 12 feet with small jigs
and plastics.

Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.


are starting to poke around over shallow water on smaller lakes where
ice was setting up at 3 to 5 inches last week. Panfish, walleyes, and
northern pike have been hitting on the smaller lakes in the Springstead
and Mercer areas. Fishermen also were starting to explore ice-covered
areas on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage. As always during the early days of
ice, use caution.

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


Call ahead for ice reports, but as of Dec. 8 lake ice was a scare commodity
in southeastern Wisconsin, so fishing reports have been very light. When
ice does arrive, stick to the shallows, where fishing is typically the
best anyway during the early days of the ice fishing season.

DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.

Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.


Muskie anglers were still catching big fish on Lake Monona and Lake Waubesa
during the first week of December. One angler reported catching a
52-inch muskie on a fly rod during the first week of December, a fairly
unusual catch. Walleye anglers were catching fish from shore last week.
The south end of Lake Monona has been good for walleyes, as are the
usual spots on Lake Mendota. Cherokee Marsh had ice last week. Panfish
moved into Monona Bay and the Triangles.

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

Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.


Fortunately for the Lakeland area of Minocqua, Woodruff, Arbor Vitae, and
Hazelhurst, the Nov. 29 snow only brought about 4 inches of the white
stuff (compared to the 8 to 10 inches farther north), which allowed the
couple of nights of low-single digit lows to help build some better ice.
Still, some of the larger lakes (Fence, Trout, Tomahawk, and Minocqua)
had open water yet last week. High west winds on Saturday, Dec. 3,
actually opened the bay on the east end of Lake Tomahawk.

Very good. Anglers are finding good numbers and size over tall, green
weeds of 9 to 12 feet. Try slow-dropping Lethal Cecils tipped with
waxies. A slow dropped plastic minnow on a rocker jig in silver or blue
was also working well.

Very good. Surprisingly, for early ice, live bait on tip-ups has
out-performed artificials in 4 to 8 feet, many times hanging the bait
just at weed top levels.

Northern pike: Very good. Use big shiners and suckers on tip-ups in 6 to 10 feet of heavy weeds.

Perch and bluegills: Good. Fish shallow weeds of 4 to 8 feet.

Overall, where ice has had a chance to form, thickness averages 5 to 8 inches.
Caution is still advised anywhere open water meets ice or currents keep
ice from forming.

Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.

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


The ice on smaller bays and lakes is good enough for fishing, but be
careful. The safest ice is in the bays. The fish are shallow and
aggressive – do not complicate the set-ups. Walleye fishing is very
good. Anglers are using suckers and shiners on tip-ups on weed beds and
weed edges.

If jigging, use spoons, be aggressive, and get the spoons down into those
weed pockets. Northern pike action is good on suckers and shiners under
tipups. Use the same tactics and locations on weed beds and edges as for
walleye. Crappies, bluegills, and perch are all relating to weeds.
Jigging small spoons, or live bait and plastics on jigs, can be very
good right now.

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

Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.


Ice conditions are slowly improving, but the 6 to 8 inches of snow received
recently is inhibiting the ability of current cold temperatures to
build more ice. Use caution when on the ice and check ice thickness at
every step.

Fortunately, most fish are in shallow, weedy areas that also hold the “best” ice. It’s early, so do not take unnecessary risks.

Northern pike are providing a very good to excellent daytime bite on most lakes.
The pike are in and around shallow weeds and the panfish and baitfish
are hiding in those weeds. Suckers, shiners, and other minnows all tempt
pike at this time.

Crappie fishing is good to very good.

Look for fish in weedline pockets in 4 to 12 feet. Bluegill and perch
fishing is good to very good for anglers fishing accessible shallow,
weedy areas.

Waxies, spikes, minnows, and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks,
and small jigging spoons, are all effective offerings.

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



Ice was starting to form on some of the smaller lakes in Marquette County
but none of them were safe enough for foot traffic. Warmer temperatures
in the forecast did not bode well for an early ice season. The firearms
deer season was fair with high winds making hunting difficult. The
muzzleloader season should be good if the weather settles down.

Jonny’s Outdoors, (906) 235-2894.


There was no safe ice on Lake Huron’s Little Bay de Noc, but skim ice was
forming and ice anglers had their fingers crossed that safe ice was in
the near future. The firearms deer season was good with several big
bucks being taken in Delta County. Muzzleloader and the late archery
seasons should be good, too.

Bay View Bait, (906) 786-1488.


Heavy snow put a damper on the early firearms deer season, which turned out
to be a fair season overall. The muzzleloader season should be decent if
the weather cooperates. Ice was forming in some of the bays on Lake
Gogebic and anglers there were hoping to get out fishing soon.

Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.


Ice is forming on the inland lakes and anglers are hoping to get out fishing on safe ice soon. A few anglers are catching splake on spawn while fishing from shore in
Keweenaw Bay. The Baraga side of the bay has been the best. The firearms
deer season was good early on and hunters tagged several nice bucks.

The action slowed considerably after that. The muzzleloader season should be decent if the weather cooperates.

Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.


The firearms deer season was fair on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Some hunters
reported decent success and others said it was slow. Heavy snow early
and high winds late put a damper on hunting success. Hunters are hoping
for better weather for the muzzleloader season. There was no ice yet in
the Keweenaw Peninsula and warm temperatures are not cooperating with
ice anglers.

Northwoods Sporting Goods, (906) 482-5210.


The firearms deer season was pretty slim in Ontonagon County. Heavy snow
hindered deer and hunter movement. Very few big bucks were taken.

The muzzleloader season should be good if hunters can get out. Skim ice is
starting to form when the heavy snow arrived so ice making has slowed.

Grieg’s Taxidermy & Tackle, (906) 884-2770.



are finding 5 to 7 inches of ice on the lakes being fished, but thinner
ice on the bigger reservoirs or in current areas. Walleyes and perch
are being caught on Boulder Lake in 8 to 10 feet. Rice Lake is kicking
out walleyes in 6 feet, and the narrows area on Fish Lake is producing
walleyes and crappies in 10 to 15 feet. Deadsticks with minnows seem to
be working better than jigging spoons.

Chalstrom’s Bait (218) 726-0094


There’s a consistent 8 inches of ice on most lakes and not much snow – ATVs are
being used. Tip-ups and suckers are producing northern pike on Birch
Lake, One Pine Lake, and Range Lake in 5 to 10 feet. Walleyes are
hitting over 16 to 18 feet early and late each day on Shagawa Lake, Fall
Lake, and White Iron Lake. You’ll find crappies suspended over the deep
holes throughout Johnson Lake, One Pine, and Range.

Arrowhead Outdoors (218) 365-5358


Some resorts have started pulling out fish houses, so it is game on. Ice
trails are marked and open, just check with resorts for daily travel
options. Some resorts have trails marked across Four Mile Bay out to
fishing areas in front of Pine Island on the main lake. The few anglers
venturing out early this week were catching decent numbers of walleyes
and sauger. The Rainy River is locked up and some local anglers have
been checking ice and catching some walleyes and sauger. As ice
thickens, more areas will become accessible, but work through a resort
or outfitter. At the Northwest Angle,
resorts have been monitoring ice conditions and starting to stake
trails. They are not ice fishing yet, but the ice is looking good and
some guides that have been out fishing and have had success.

Lake of the Woods Tourism Bureau, (800) 382-FISH.


There’s currently 8 to 10 inches of ice in Pike Bay and about 5 inches
throughout much of the main lake. Anglers are just starting to pull
small houses on Big Bay and outside Pike Bay with snowmobiles and ATVs.
Fishing reports have been limited, but should improve quickly with more
people starting to venture out.

Pike Bay Lodge, (218) 753-2430.


There might have been a pocket or two of open water far out on the main lake,
but everything looked locked tight early this week. Spear houses have
started going out and there have been a few reports of perch being
caught in Tamarack Bay. Check with resorts, but it sounded as if there
are going to be some main-lake fishing options by this weekend.

Lake Winnie Resort Association,


Walker Bay is now mostly capped, but there was not enough ice to walk on early
this week. Reports from anglers checking areas such as Trader’s Bay and
Pine Point indicated around 6 inches of ice on Tuesday. The small bays
have areas with as much as 9 inches of ice, so some angling and spearing
has started. There’s also been activity on some the area’s small lakes
for panfish, with 6 to 8 inches of ice being reported.

Reed’s Sporting Goods, (218) 547-1505.

Shriver’s Bait Co., (218) 547-2250.


Many bays are currently in good shape for walk-out fishing. There are people
starting to venture out in a few areas, but reports have been limited.
Early this week, the main-basin ice was still questionable and not yet
ready for foot travel.

RainyDaze Guide Service (218) 290-6102


In most areas of the lake, ice depths are approaching 12 inches. Some
resorts/outfitters started to allow sideby-sides and trailers to be used
early this week, but no private wheelhouses. Some rental houses have
been pulled along the south shore, but again, no private houses were
allowed early this week. Continue to work with local resorts and
outfitters for ice conditions, staked roads, and travel options heading
into this weekend. Various depths have been producing walleyes. Some
groups pound them and others struggle, but everyone seems to be catching
a few fish. Get away from the crowds as much as ice conditions allow in
9 to 11 feet. Jigging spoons seem to be drawing fish, but deadsticks
and minnows have produced more fish this week.

West Wind Resort (218) 647-8998

JR’s Corner Access (320) 290-3838


When the weather allows, boats continue to show up on the Mississippi River.
Slower presentations such as jigs and plastics or Dubuque Rigs are
producing sauger and a few walleyes along current seams below the dam.
Ice conditions are marginal at best, with pockets of open water still
showing in the bays and throughout Lake Pepin early this week.

Four Seasons Sports, (651) 388-4334.

South Dakota


There are a few pockets of open water on the big lakes, but anglers are
reporting 7 to 9 inches of ice where they’ve been fishing. Waubay Lake
remains the best bet for perch and walleyes in 18 to 22 feet. A few
walleyes also can be had on the north end of Bitter Lake, while Stink
Lake is producing perch and a few walleyes as well.

Sportsman’s Cove, (605) 345-2468.

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