Any ice fishing options that remained ended early last week with the warm weather, rain, and wind. The ice deteriorated fast and some small lakes are almost all open. The bigger lakes have more ice, but the shorelines have pulled far enough away that getting on them is impossible.
Country Store, (715) 268-7482.
It’s a time of transition in the Ashland area as Chequamegon Bay ice starts to soften up a little. Meanwhile, anglers are moving to the Lake Superior tributaries as migrating trout and salmon move into the streams. Streams are high and dirty due to rain and runoff. As the streams come down and clear up the migratory fish should show up. The ice on inland lakes was still walkable as of last week.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
There’s still a lot of main lake ice, but holes have started to open on many lakes. The shorelines also have opened enough that ice fishing is no longer a safe option.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
The bay still has ice on it; however, it seems like the ice conditions are worsen by the day. When looking down on the bay from a higher vantage point you are able to see all the pockets of open water. Anyone venturing out on the ice this late in the year needs to use extreme caution.
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
Who knows what the ice conditions are going to be, with this warmer weather having reduced the ice somewhat. It still doesn’t seem like we will have a “normal” opener on Saturday, May 4, with the ice completely gone. Looking at the 10 day forecast, we still have some pretty cool weather later into the month, so we’ll need a significant warm front to get rid of all the snow and ice. These last few years have brought later ice-outs, with April not getting the warmth it used to.
We still have decent ice, and people are having some good action on crappies and bluegills. The crappies are still a little deeper on most lakes, with action from 8 to 15 feet seeming to be the norm. Minnows are working well at this point. For the bluegills, red spikes and waxies are the best baits.
We’re also not too far away from perch fishing up here. These fish will move in right after the ice goes out. Waxies, worms or minnows under ultralight tackle work very well in shallow water for these fish.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
FLORENCE COUNTY AREA
Ice conditions are deteriorating and won’t last much longer. Ice fishermen have still been getting out on the lakes and reporting some nice catches. The rivers are open for the most part, but some boat launches are still froze up and not accessible for boat trailers yet. Walleye fishermen are having luck using larger fatheads. The panfish bite is steady. Most catches have been crappies and bluegills.
Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411.
GREEN BAY/APPLETON AREA
In Brown County, boat anglers on the Fox River reported variable walleye fishing last week. The largest reported walleye caught early last week was 27 inches. Lots of walleye in mid-20-inch range were reported. Anglers also caught whitefish, carp, and a 65-inch sturgeon – all released. Water temperature was at 37 degrees. The fairgrounds and Fox Point saw heavy traffic, while more anglers were seen using the metro launch even without the docks in place. Catches were reported the whole length of the river, with a few anglers reporting good luck on the Bay as well.
Smokey’s on the Bay Bait, Tackle and Guide Service, (920) 436-0600.
We still have nights cold enough to allow anglers to get on the ice, but with access mostly only by foot now. Use extreme caution, especially at boat landings and on shorelines with southern exposures. Crappie anglers tipping jigs with waxies and spikes are catching fish in 12 to 18 feet. Perch anglers are taking advantage of pre-spawn fish and are finding some nice ones. Perch use weeds for laying eggs and usually stage nearby for spawning, so look for any weed beds in 6-16 feet.
Some anglers have put away their ice fishing gear and are fishing for spring steelhead on Lake Superior tributaries. The rivers are a touch cold and muddy, but higher, darker water is not a terrible thing when targeting steelhead.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
LA CROSSE AREA
High water on the Mississippi River is still a challenge, but the walleye bite has been pretty decent. The perch have been tough to come by.
Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.
Bob’s Bait and Tackle, (608) 782-5552.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
In Sheboygan, boaters were able to catch a few browns last week. Some anglers also caught browns from the south pier, with some suckers also being seen. A few anglers fished along the Pigeon River, still running cold and clear, but no catches were recorded. The Sheboygan River hit 45°F last week. Anglers were fishing along the entire stretch, from the Roy Sebald Natural Area and Esslingen Park to River Wildlife and into Sheboygan. A few steelhead were caught early.
In Port Washington, anglers have been fishing the power plant outflow and Sauk Creek. A steelhead and a few suckers were caught, with anglers mentioning steelhead and browns being caught earlier in the week.
In Milwaukee, perch fishermen were having a bit of success under the Hoan Bridge, but the perch were small. Those fishing in Lakeshore State Park and near Discovery World were targeting steelheads, but few were caught. The McKinley Marina ramp saw some action, with boats bringing in a fair amount of smaller browns and big lake trout. Very little fishing effort was seen on the pier. The South Shore and Bender Park ramps saw a little action, with boats coming in with small numbers of brown trout and cohos. Most were caught near the power plant discharge. Efforts on the Milwaukee River have been up over the past week and anglers had success on steelheads, muskies, and smallmouth bass.
Fishing activity along the shores and piers of Racine saw a slight increase in activity last week. The wind had died down significantly, so the waves weren’t breaking over the tops of the piers. Activity on the ramp increased significantly, as well. A 26-pound brown trout was caught and released. Root River activity has been a lot lighter compared to the past few weeks. Fishing below the steelhead facility is still much heavier than above the facility. A few steelhead are being caught in equal amounts above and below the facility. Water clarity is still fairly low.
Kenosha Harbor and Piers: Activity on the Kenosha piers and shores has slowed down slightly. A few brown trout were caught on spoons and tube jigs. The amount of boat trailers at the ramp remains low. Pike River activity has dropped off significantly with very few people having been seen fishing on the river. The majority of the sightings came from people fishing at the mouth of the river.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
The walleyes are running on the Wolf and Fox Rivers. Water temperatures are warming and fish are moving into the marshes for their annual spawn.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.
All ice is off the Madison chain and shore fishermen are having a lot of success on panfish in inlets and channels around town. Spots like the Park Street area of Lake Monona and the areas around the railroad trestles have seen some bluegills and crappies. Lake Kegonsa has also had reports of bluegills near the state park. The Wisconsin River is down a bit and guys are catching a lot of walleyes from shore and from boats up to Wisconsin Dells.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
Steelhead fishing was a struggle for most anglers last week. The Manitowoc River is still high and has a faster than normal flow in areas. The Branch River is still producing steelhead. The flow and water levels are perfect for fishing. The docks are in at the Manitowoc Marina, with boaters coming in with mixed results. It seems most of the fish were caught south of Manitowoc. The East Twin River is producing a mixed bag of fish at the dam – steelhead, northern pike, suckers, and smallmouth bass on spoons, minnows, spawn, crankbait, and beads. Steelhead fishing at Shoto appears to have slowed. The docks are in at Vets Park in Two Rivers.
Louie’s Sporting Goods, (920) 684-4501.
MARATHON COUNTY AREA
The waters are open at the store location and the temperature was 43°F last week. Anglers are enjoying the beginning of the Wisconsin River walleye run. Reports below area dams are good, with mostly smaller males and the occasional keeper. Use fatheads on brightly jigs. The Moon Dam area has been good for crappies.
Riverside Rental and Bait Shop, (715) 854-2073.
In Marinette, Menominee River brown trout are being caught off of the Hattie Street Bridge and along the shore up to the dam on both sides of the river during the day. Reports of big walleyes being caught off Hattie Street at night are also coming in. Anglers using crankbaits are catching the most fish. Two gates of the dam were wide open and lots of current was observed. The Stephenson Island boat launch is open.
At Oconto boats were seen on the river channel and out into the bay. Anglers reported catching a few walleyes and whitefish from boats. High water was observed on the Peshtigo River at the dam in town. Anglers fishing the city landing from shore reported tough fishing conditions but managed one or two smaller walleyes. The Oconto River saw heavy fishing pressure from the Stiles dam downstream to the Hwy. 141 bridge. Overall fishing for walleyes was slow.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
Whatever happened to spring? We keep getting tempted with a few 50-degree days then, wham, more cold and blizzards again. The ice anglers who did go out prior to the blizzard caught fish, but did have to work for them a bit. Ice conditions were fairly OK last week with 16 to 20 inches remaining, though it’s showing that rotting texture of ice. Access is still good with the exception of a few lake’s where north shorelines were getting messy.
Bluegills: Good to very good. Use tungsten jigs with waxies or spikes. To keep the smaller ones off, tip the jig with a plastic, with good things happening on purple. Fish were found in weeds in 6 to 12 feet. In some of the oxygen depleted lakes, fish are only a few feet under the ice.
Crappies: Good. Minnows have been the key the past few days. Small jigging spoons are all producing. Tip-downs is another good choice. Weeds in 6 to 14 feet are the key.
Yellow perch: Good. Deep mud flats continue to be the hot spot for larger perch. Wigglers are producing well.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
The Wisconsin River is still fairly high yet, but guys are catching a few walleyes on the river. The Petenwell Flowage is wide open and anglers are finding some panfish in the shallows, but most of the attention has been focused on walleyes in the river.
Petenwell Sports, (608) 564 7707.