Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Wisconsin Outdoor News fishing report — Jan. 20, 2023

Lake conditions have not changed much since the last report, and anglers are still dealing with a lot of sloppy conditions in many parts of the state.

It seems as though there have been a few more roads plowed in some areas, while anglers are still limited to walking out in others. Resorts and guides have done a solid job of getting roads open on most of the state’s larger lakes.

Walleyes have settled into their mid-winter feeding patterns, which means low-light periods and even overnight have been most productive. Tip-ups with smaller minnows also seem to be producing more walleyes than are spoons at this point. Continue to look for a mixed bag of panfish over deeper basin areas on most lakes and look for bigger fish to be suspended.

AMERY AREA

Bear Trap Lake is producing small crappies over 18 to 20 feet of water, and northern pike are hitting suckers on the Apple River in 6 to 8 feet. Big Round Lake is giving up a few sunfish and crappies on its 8- to 10-foot weed edges. Fishing pressure continues to be limited with inconsistent ice thickness, snow, and slush preventing anglers from getting on most lakes unless they walk or have some type of tracked vehicle. 

Country Store, (715) 268-7482.

ASHLAND AREA

Current ice conditions have not deteriorated as much some might think with the rainy weather. However, there is a lot of slush and snow on the bay and snowmobile traffic is recommended. Check the ice often. There are lots of big pike, browns, and splake being caught on Chequamegon Bay. Some large perch are being caught on the north side of the bay. Inland lakes are snow covered and slushy. Foot or snowmobile traffic is recommended.

Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.

River Rock, (715) 682-3232.

DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA

Little Sturgeon Bay perch action has continued to be fair and some northern pike have been caught on tips-ups with shiners. The Sawyer Harbor area also has had fair action for perch and pike. Most other locations in Door County have poor ice conditions with the recent winds.

Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.

EAGLE RIVER AREA

Ice conditions have been holding steady. Walleye fishing is holding up throughout the area, with daily reports of decent fishing on the Eagle River Chain – and some good size, as well. The patterns are the same: evening and late afternoon success consistently, in the 10- to 15-foot range, with tip-ups baited with shiners or suckers. On some of the bigger lakes off the chain, nighttime walleye action has been good. On these lakes anglers are setting the tip-ups deeper. Northerns have been hitting well on tip-ups fished in the weeds – and the deeper the better. Look for the deep edge of cabbage weeds or deep grass beds for the best success. Crappie action has been very good in 15 to 20 feet of water, but they can be at any depth. Waxies on smaller jigs are working well. Some anglers are also using tip-downs with minnows. 

Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.

GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA

Due to the lack of ice-building weather, and the strong south winds recently, the east shore of Green Bay has become very dangerous. A large portion of the ice pack blew out, creating open water even closer to shore. No one should venture out on any east shore ice north of Point Sable until a blast of colder weather arrives. Green Bay waters are still far from locked up, so pay close attention to the wind direction every day. Ice breaking operations and large boat traffic on Green Bay continue as the USCG Mobile Bay and Mackinaw continue working in the shipping lanes. People venturing out on Dead Horse Bay and the Suamico area are finding decent perch action, along with some walleye activity. The ice may take a beating from the recent rain, so use caution. The Fox River has open water. The wind and warm weather have moved all that ice. Do not venture out on any ice on the Fox River.

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

HAYWARD AREA

There just haven’t been enough people fishing to garner any reports. Lake conditions are not good with varying ice depths and slush preventing anglers from getting out. Trucks are not an option, even snowmobiles are getting stuck, and the few people venturing out are walking and finding it tough to move around.

Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.

IRON COUNTY AREA

Walleye fishing is fair to good, with the best action in early morning and from sunset on into the night. During the day, focus on deep weeds, humps, and points. In the evening, fish move in to feed on shallow flats. Northern pike fishing is very good, with anglers catching good numbers of fish in most locations. Use suckers and shiners on tip-ups. 

Crappie fishing is good to very good. Depending on the lake, crappies can be on shallow weeds, wood, and brush, or schooling in deep holes and basins. Look for fish near bottom, but check all depths. 

Flambeau Flowage Sports, Mercer, (715) 476-2526.

LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES

Ice safety should be any anglers first concern in southeastern Wisconsin. There are people out fishing, and catching fish, but most of those folks are fishing over shallow water in bays. Avoid all current areas.

DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.

Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.

Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.

LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA

Fox Valley anglers are checking ice and water clarity ahead of the Feb. 11 sturgeon spearing season opener. While they’re checking, they’re also picking up a few white bass and perch here and there, along with a few walleyes. There have been reports of 9 to 10 inches of good, clear ice along the east shore a mile out. Blackwolf had 8 to 9 inches of ice, but fishing was a little slow.

Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.

Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.

Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.

MADISON AREA

Ice conditions have been decent, with mostly bluegills being caught in the shallows, along with some pike and bass on tip-ups. Basin perch action has been spotty on Lake Waubesa, but there is starting to be enough ice over deeper water on lakes Mendota and Monona to begin searching for perch. There were recent reports of 4 to 5 inches of ice over the deep water. Some perch were found on the bottom. Closer to shore, there was 6 to 9 inches of ice over shallow areas where there has been pike action during the day and walleye action toward evening. There is an ice heave between Maple Bluff and Governor’s Island. There has been lots of good walleye action in less than 15 feet all around Lake Monona.

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

Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.

MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA

The incredibly mild January continues with average lows in the mid-20s and highs in the low to mid-30s. If there is a negative to this “balmy” January, it’s that many lakes don’t have enough ice (clear ice averages are 8 to 14 inches) to support truck travel. Also, some slush is still being reported. Overall, access and travel for foot, snowmobiles, ATVs, and UTVs has been good. Yet with the lack of cold, be careful. It rained Jan. 16 and that could add to slippery boat landings, crust and slush.

Northern pike: Very good with lots of numbers and some size. Most anglers using shiners and suckers over weeds in 4 to 10 feet. A few anglers are jigging larger spoons tipped with minnow heads with good luck.

Crappie: Very good, but not everywhere. Most anglers are targeting basin crappies over mud in 22 to 34 feet by jigging small spoons tipped with spikes or using tip-downs baited with rosy reds.

Bluegills: Very good to good along weeds in 6 to 10 feet on small jigs tipped with waxies or dark plastics. Fish early in the morning for the larger bluegills. 

Walleyes: Good, with the bite picking back up. Fish off-shore humps of gravel or sandgrass towards dusk with suckers and river shiners. Jigging Raps and Rattlin Raps are scoring before dawn.

Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.

PRICE COUNTY AREA

Walleye anglers report success with tip-ups and spoons at sunrise and sundown. Most fish get more finicky in deep winter, so think smaller bait like fatheads instead of suckers, or smaller jigs. Pike anglers are catching fish in many areas, with some shallow and some on deep shelves and ledges. Tip-ups with big shiners or dead bait on quick-strike rigs are catching fish. 

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

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

SIREN AREA

Crappies in shallow lakes relate to weeds, brush, and timber. In deep lakes, they might be schooling over deep basins. But, no matter, waxies and plastics on tungsten jigs will work. Bluegills are relating to weeds and shallow water; use small jigs with waxies and small plastics. Perch can be anywhere, but start over shallow weeds or on weed edges that slide into basins. Try small jigging spoons rather than the standard jigs. Tip them with minnow heads or bodies. 

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

SPOONER AREA

Ice conditions with the recent mild temperatures and the Jan. 16 rain continue to cause travel issues on the ice and some areas remain questionable. Fishing is generally good to very good for most species. Call ahead for current fishing details and ice conditions. Crappies are in main lake basins in 15 to 40 feet. Check deep holes adjacent to weedy bays where fish head as March and April near. Fish should be within a few feet of the bottom, and small jigs, spoons, live bait, and lipless rattle baits are working well. Bluegills are in shallower water, holding to remaining weeds, or on cribs. Fish tight to cribs, downed trees, or other cover.

AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011.

Michigan

ESCANABA AREA

There was a little bit of ice on Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc, but anglers are being cautious because it has not frozen evenly. Most of the fishing has been north of Gladstone where there was between 4 to 6 inches of ice. Walleye fishing has been pretty good, but the bite has been up and down. One day anglers report a good bite, the next day nothing. A few perch have been caught and a few northern pike, too. There was no ice at Escanaba.

Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.

BERGLAND AREA

There was a foot or more ice on Lake Gogebic under cover of heavy snow. Travel and surface conditions have improved, with sleds getting around the lake on the hard-packed areas. Perch and walleye fishing has been fair in 21 to 24 feet of water. Walleyes have been hitting both suckers and jigging baits tipped with a minnow. Perch are hitting wigglers and spikes fished tight to the bottom.

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

L’ANSE AREA

Keweenaw Bay remains open. Inland lakes are sloppy with 8 to 12 inches of ice under up to a foot or more of slush. Walleye, pike, panfish, and brook trout all have been caught. Chassel Bay has a foot of ice. The slush has frozen. Walleye, pike, and crappies all have been caught. There was about a foot of snow in the woods. Coyote hunting has been good but hunting pressure has been relatively light.

Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.

ONTONAGON AREA

Lac Vieux Desert had about 8 inches of ice and the panfish bite has been very good. There was a few inches of slush on top. Crooked Lake had plenty of ice and bluegills and crappies have been caught. Twin Lakes has produced a very good bite for bluegills and crappies. Anglers are advised to beware of slush. There was no ice on Union Bay yet.

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

IRON RIVER AREA

The smaller lakes in Iron County have up to 10 inches of ice. Snowmobiles and four-wheelers are being taken out but no vehicles yet. The bigger lakes are good for foot traffic only. There was about 4 inches of snow on the ice. Fishing reports have been pretty good with for panfish and walleyes. There was about 12 inches of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been very light.

Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.

Minnesota

DULUTH AREA 

Walleyes and perch are being taken with spoons on Boulder Lake in 10 to 12 feet. Rice Lake continues to produce pike on suckers in 6 feet. Walleyes and crappies remain active over 8 to 12 feet in the Park Point area of Duluth Harbor. Lake trout reports have been mixed from lakes up the Gunflint Trail, but Mayhew Lake and Gunflint Lake seem to be most productive over 25 to 35 feet with deadsticks and suckers. There’s still some slush on lakes, but snowmobiles are being used on most. 

Chalstrom’s Bait, (218) 726-0094.

ELY AREA

A few lake trout are being caught on tubes and spoons around the points and sharp breaks in 30 to 50 feet on Burntside Lake, Snowbank Lake, Trout Lake, Bass Lake, and Knife Lake. Rainbow trout are being found on Miner’s Lake about 10 to 15 feet below the ice and on Tofte Lake in less than 15 feet. High Lake and Glacial Pond #2 are producing brook trout in less than 10 feet around downed trees. Spoons and wax worms are turning brown trout on Dry Lake in 10 to 15 feet. Hit Eagle’s Nest Two Lake, Birch Lake, and Shagawa Lake with shiners or spoons for walleyes in 10 to 15 feet during the evenings and after dark. 

Arrowhead Outdoors, (218) 365-5358.

LAKE OF THE WOODS

Numbers of small walleyes and saugers are being sorted through, along with some eaters, slot fish, and trophy walleyes in 30 to 36 feet of water. Jigging with a small spoon and piece of minnow has been effective and on a second line. Eelpout, pike, jumbo perch, tullibees, and a few crappies and sturgeon have been in the mix.

The Rainy River has seen a mixed bag of walleyes and saugers being caught during the morning and evening hours. Ice conditions vary on the river. At the Northwest Angle, a nice mix of walleye sizes and some big pike are being caught. There have been some nice crappies caught on the Ontario side around the islands. 

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


LAKE VERMILION

The reefs around Birch Island, Ely Island, and mouth of Pike Bay out from McKinley Park have been giving up walleyes. The morning hours have been best in 25 to 30 feet with deadsticks and minnows or glow spoons. Roads have been plowed to these locations, but off-road travel is still an issue due to slush. 

Pike Bay Lodge, (218) 753-2430.

LAKE WINNIBIGOSHISH

Walleyes are being caught most consistently during low-light periods on deadsticks and fatheads on the main-lake bars in 15 to 20 feet. There is some daytime walleye activity, structure-related, in 25 to 30 feet. Anglers willing to drill holes and stay on the move seem to be catching a few more fish. Perch remain scattered, some mixed with the walleyes, and others being found in 15 to 18 feet.  

Lake Winnie Resort Association, www.lakewinnie.net.

LEECH LAKE

Walleye action has been slower in Walker Bay week, but the main lake has been producing some fish. Suckers are working best in the Bear Island area, Pine Point area, or main-lake humps and structure in 10 to 15 feet. Some anglers are finding bigger perch in 8 to 14 feet off Goose Island, Sand Point, and Cedar Point. Trucks are being used, but stick to the plowed roads. There’s slush in spots. 

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

Shriver’s Bait Co., (218) 547-2250.

RED LAKE

For this time of the year, walleye activity has remained solid. Not everyone is catching piles of fish, but limits do continue to show up with some consistency. Resorts and outfitters continue to move to new areas, and they seem to be staying on fish. The rocks on the south shore, 6 to 8 miles out on the north shore, and deep water to the east have all produced walleyes, along with some perch, pike, and crappies. Deadsticks are working best early and late in the day with some fish hitting overnight as well in 13 feet of water. 

West Wind Resort, (218) 647-8998.

JR’s Corner Access, (320) 290-3838.

RED WING AREA

Bright-colored spoons or Jiggin’ Raps are producing saugers and a few big walleyes on Lake Pepin. Most fish are being caught along channel seams in 13 to 20 feet. There has been some boat traffic on the Mississippi River and saugers are being caught along current seams with Dubuque rigs or jigs and plastics. 

Four Seasons Sports, (651) 388-4334.

South Dakota

WEBSTER AREA

The basin area on the south end of Waubay Lake is producing perch in 25 to 30 feet. Anglers doing best are staying on the move. The middle of Waubay has been best for walleyes in 15 to 20 feet early and late each day. Bitter Lake is giving up walleyes in 16 to 22 feet, but most remain on the small side. Dry Lake 2 is worth hitting for northern pike.

Sportsman’s Cove, (605) 345-2468.

North Dakota

DEVIL’S LAKE 

The most active perch are being found in the trees over 15 to 20 feet. Others are deep, 35 to 42 feet, in Black Tiger Bay, Creel Bay, and East Devil’s Lake. These fish are less active with short windows of better feeding activity. Walleyes continue to be caught on the humps, points, and flats in 7 to 20 feet. Stay on the move until you locate a pod of aggressive fish. A few roads are plowed in Creel Bay and out from the casino, but tracked vehicles are needed to move around most of the lake. 

Eye Hangers Guide Service, (701) 230-7080.

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