You’ll still find pockets of open water on the big lakes, but there is as much as 7 inches where people are fishing. Look to the north end of Lake Wapogasset, Big Round Lake, and White Ash Lake for panfish in 8 to 12 feet. Bear Trap Lake is a safe bet for crappies over slightly deeper water. Shiners or spoons are turning walleyes during low-light periods on Big Round, Balsam Lake, Half Moon Lake, and North Twin Lake in 8 to 12 feet.
Country Store, (715) 268-7482.
Unfortunately the Chequamegon Bay ice blew out last weekend with the 40 mph winds leaving no fishable ice right now. The inland lakes have good ice with reports of 4 to 6 inches and there have been reports of nice crappies being caught using waxies, golden shiners and fathead minnows. There are predictions of colder temps in the forecast.
Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.
River Rock, (715) 682-3232.
Most lakes now have 6 to 7 inches of ice, with less ice and some open water pockets on a few big lakes. Panfish and crappies are hitting on Big Round Lake in 10 feet and Staples Lake in 8 to 14 feet. A few walleyes are coming off the back bay on Shell Lake in 8 to 10 feet.
Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164
DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA
Due to the weather, there is not much to talk about as far as fishing is concerned, but here is a projected report. As of last week there was no ice in the county, but the cool weather is now here. So, depending on the winds, the first ice cover will be right around the corner. The first areas to freeze are the shallow bays and marinas. Little Sturgeon, Riley’s Bay and Sawyer Harbor will be the first ice-covered bays in our area and the early season is usually very good for perch and for some nice northern pike. For the perch, tip small jigs with wax worms, minnows or minnow heads, along with a wide variety of small soft plastics. For the pike, suspend large golden shiners and suckers under tip-ups throughout those shallow bays
Early brown trout action is usually pretty good during first ice. Go-to spots are the marinas from Sturgeon Bay all the way up to the tip of the peninsula. Suspending minnows under tip-ups are a good bet, along with jigging a variety of baits like spoons and Rippin’ Raps.
And as soon as some decent ice forms out into Green Bay, thousands of whitefish anglers will venture a bit off shore to the whitefish grounds. A few areas that are always good spots include Henderson’s Point, Riley’s Point, Larson’s Reef and the shoreline and structure north of Sturgeon Bay up to Egg Harbor. A variety of jigs rigged with slider hooks work well. And tipping hooks with minnow pieces, waxies, spikes and soft plastics all will work for the not-so-finicky whitefish.
Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.
Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.
EAGLE RIVER AREA
A full dose of winter has arrived, with some snow and much colder weather. It’s going to seem like a very long winter by March. Last year it was much warmer than it is now, and when it got cold it got really cold just around Christmas. Let’s hope that we can avoid that severe cold this year. Ice conditions are not too bad, but be aware of current areas on the Eagle River Chain, as the dam has been open and in the river areas the ice can be surprisingly thin under the snow. Most of the smaller and mid-sized lakes have 4 to 6 inches of good ice now. Guys are using snowmobiles or ATVs on some of the shallower lakes.
Walleye fishing has started, with some anglers reporting decent numbers, but not a lot of size yet. This is typical for the early season. As usual, the best baits under tip-ups are shiners or suckers. Evenings are always the best time for these fish, as they move from deeper water towards the shallower feeding areas. Use caution on the larger lakes, but some of the deep rock structure is holding fish at this point.
Northern pike have been feeding, and most seem to be caught by walleye anglers in the afternoons as they set their tip-ups. If you are going to target pike, use the large shiners under tip-ups placed near or in the weeds. Bass are moving in and near weeds, also. Use suckers or shiners. You’ll find them mixed with the northerns near weeds.
Panfish action has started – for perch especially. These guys are near drop-offs and in the deeper weeds. They are being caught on waxies or red spikes on jig poles. There have been reports of perch triggering flags on tip-ups of the walleye anglers.
Crappie action has yet to really start, but some nice fish will be caught over the deep holes on the Eagle River Chain. Jigs tipped with waxies or a minnow head work best at this time of year, and remember that the fish are now always near the bottom. Bluegills are just starting in the weeds. This fishing gets better as the winter goes on, as they are pretty spooky under the thin ice.
Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.
Most small lakes have 4 to 7 inches of ice with a bit less on the large bodies of water. Bluegills and crappies are being caught at Spring Lake and Nelson Lake in 16 to 25 feet. A few walleyes also can be had on Nelson in 18 to 25 feet and pike are hitting suckers under tip-ups on the 6- to 10-foot weedlines of Smith Lake, Spring, and Nelson. Daytime fishing is good during lower barometric periods and the last couple of hours of daylight offer the best chances. A number of anglers report catching northern pike more than 35 inches long.
Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.
Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.
LA CROSSE AREA
Lake Onalaska had 5 to 6 inches of ice last week and anglers have found a good, steady daytime bite on crappies, bluegills and perch. Along Fisherman’s Road anglers are catching crappies, bluegills and bass. Lauderdale Bay on the Black River has been giving up a few bluegills.
Schafer’s Boats, (608) 781-3100.
Bob’s Bait and Tackle, (608) 782-5552.
LAKE MICHIGAN/METRO AREA LAKES
There really was no ice to speak of on area lakes as of late last week, despite all of the cold weather in November. The wind and a few warm-ups kept the ice from setting in. The couple of nights of cold weather in last week’s forecast should build some ice. Fox Lake and Beaver Dam lakes do have ice and anglers are fishing those lakes for walleyes, pike and panfish.
DNR hotline, (414) 382-7920.
Smokey’s Bait Shop, (262) 691-0360.
Dick Smith’s Bait, (262) 646 2218.
LAKE WINNEBAGO AREA
Anglers are walking out in certain spots like Asylum Point for bluegills, or Skipper Bud’s on Butte des Morts. Lake Poygan is ice-covered and anglers have been walking out on Poygan for a week or so. There was no ice on Lake Winnegabo proper as of Dec. 6.
Critter’s, (920) 582-0471.
Fox River Bait, (920) 233-7409.
Dutch’s, (920) 922-0311.
There is some ice in some areas and guys are fishing those spots. Cherokee Marsh and ice and some nice bluegills, but that bite has not been consistent. Some guys were still open-water fishing on Lake Mendota into the first few days of December for walleyes and smallies, but there are no piers at the landings. On Lake Monona, muskies guys have been on the water and two 50-inch fish were caught on suckers – one during the day and one at night. Shore fishermen were still doing some walleye fishing last week – no big numbers, but there were some good success stories. Crappies were being caught by shore fishermen at “The Triangle” on Lake Monona, but that was close to icing over. Try Viking Park in Stoughton for bluegills, Beaver Dam Lake for walleyes, Rock Lake for bluegills on the south end, Koshkonong for bluegills and crappies in the backwaters, and the grade on Lake Wisconsin for pike and bass. Lake Puckaway has ice.
D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.
Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.
MARATHON COUNTY AREA
The ice thickness on the Eau Claire river at the store was 73⁄4 inches. Early season cold temperatures and minimal snow accumulations have led to early and substantial ice forming on area lakes and rivers. Good reports are coming in from many locations throughout Marathon County, with 8- to 10-inch bluegills delighting anglers on the Eau Claire River. Tip-downs with rosie reds and crappie minnows or waxies and spikes on teardrop and rocker jigs are providing the perfect combination for those bluegills. Smaller pike, crappies and perch are also common on the bay above the Eau Clair River dam. Lake Wausau’s walleye catch seems better right after sunset on suckers and golden shiners. Smaller lakes like Pike and Norrie have seen nice catches of panfish. Anglers should remember that Lake Wausau panfish limits of “10-10-5” are in place. As always, anglers are advised to use caution on the ice near dams, spillways and faster running currents on lakes and rivers.
Riverside Rentals & Bait Shop, (715) 574-1771.
MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA
With ice thickness slowly building, more opportunities are opening up by the day for anglers here in the Northwoods. Most lakes are averaging 5 to 7 inches of ice and while some of our larger lakes are just locking up, with the lack of snow on these newer freeze-ups, ice depths will actually catch up to those lakes that covered over in early November.
Walleyes: Very good to good. There has been some good action even as early as mid-afternoons for anglers working jigging spoons (Clam Flutter Spoons). The best action is still coming just before dark, but the mid-day action is a sign of active fish. The biggest drawback has been winds this past week making fishing difficult at times.
Northern pike: Very good to good. Action during the mornings has been the best using big chubs, suckers or shiners in relatively shallow water at 9 feet or less.
Bluegills: Very good to good. There has been a lots of action, along with reports of sorting needed to get a decent bag. In shallow water (8 feet or less), lead jigs tipped with waxies is all that’s needed. Some anglers on smaller, deeper lakes are using tungsten and spikes to get down to 20 to 25 feet for some big bluegills.
Yellow perch: Good to fair. Some nice fish are being picked up in shallow, cabbage flats of 5 to 9 feet on jigs tipped with waxies.
Crappies: Fair. Anglers are having trouble dropping rockers slowly because of the wind. Action had been better prior to the wind arriving.
Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.
J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.
PRICE COUNTY AREA
Most lakes had 4 to 8 inches of ice as of Dec. 6. The walleye action has been OK, with the best action coming in shallow water on shiners. Northern pike action has been good. Crappies and bluegills are hitting, but it’s been spotty. The crappies seem to be scattered and tight to the bottom when they are found. The guys who are doing the best are hole-hopping.
Bridge Bait and Tackle, Park Falls, (715) 762-4108.
Ross’s Sport Shop, Phillips, (715) 339-3625.
Most lakes had 6 to 8 inches of ice as of Dec. 6. Guys were catching some bass, crappies and a few northern pike on Spooner Lake. No one had been driving on the lakes with even ATVs or snowmobiles at that point, but that scenario will likely change soon.
AAA Sports Shop, (715) 635-3011.