Sorry for the silence… It’s been a couple of weeks since we posted a report, but it wasn’t because of a lack of fish biting. I checked in with the guys after last weekend, and there’s certainly plenty of things going on to keep ice anglers busy in northern Wisconsin. The inland game fish season is currently closed, but panfish can still be targeted as well as catch and release only trout fishing on the rivers. Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior however remain wide open for everything except smallmouth bass, and Lake Superior tributaries will be opening up for the steelhead run at the end of the month. All of that along with good to excellent ice ice condions add up to plenty of opportunites to scratch that fishing itch. Those of you looking forward to getting the boats out may not want to put your ice augers away just yet. With the weather forecast we’re looking at, I don’t think that hard water is going away any time soon. Here’s what Josh Teigen, Aron Kastern, and Erik Thue all had to say about the current bite and conditions.
Josh Teigen has hunkered down on Chequamegon Bay over the last several weeks, and I don’t think anyone would blame him. The lake trout bite has continued to produce good numbers of fish along with some trophy caliber fish mixed in as well around the Apostle Islands. He’s been focusing his efforts in the 100′ – 230′ range with each day being different in regard to depths and locations. Kastmasters and Beetles tipped with herring and smelt are his top producers as he looks for contour points and funnels to locate travel corridors fish are using. He says the near shore bite has been consistently good as well producing good mixed bags of trout and whitefish in 15′ – 40′ of water while jigging Kastmasters and Hyper Rattles tipped with shiners. River mouths are beginning to concentrate fish that are staging to make their spring spawning runs and should be good bets in the coming weeks. The inner islands still have around 1′ of ice with 2′ or more of ice inside the bay. Ice around the outer islands should definitely not be considered safe especially with high winds in the forecast this week. Travel by snowmobile is best and there are a few slush pockets to avoid. What’s not to like about that report? Absolutely nothing! Keep banging ’em Josh!
Aron Kastern’s Apostle Islands report lines right up with what Josh had to say. His crew continues to see good numbers of lakers along with some big burbot hitting the ice while targeting deep breaks and flats. He says setting up on bait located with your electronics has been key to dialing in on larger fish. Aron’s gang has also spent a fair amount of time in Chequamegon Bay itself. That bite isn’t cranking quite yet, but it should get very good over the next few weeks as temps warm a bit. Trout and whitefish are starting to follow schools of smelt that will be staging to spawn into the bay, and the Ashland side from the hot pond out to second landing are usually a good bet this time of year. It can be a total mixed bag bite with everything from perch & walleyes to trout & salmon getting in on the feeding frenzy. Standard approaches using set lines with shiners and jigging spoons tipped with minnow parts will all do the trick while targeting weed beds, points, humps, and channels. You really can’t go wrong. Focus on specific structures and if the fish aren’t there, move on to the next one until you locate what you’re looking for. It’s really a fun place and a fun time of year to be on the ice. Ice conditions in the bay are excellent with well over 2′ in most areas. The snow has crusted over and snowmobiles along with ATV’s are both gettting along well. Aron’s run of big fish this winter has been incredible. Look at the size of that burbot!
Erik Thue has been dialed in on a good trout bite during the catch and realease season on rivers around the Hayward area, and he said the trend continues. Cold water temperatures lend themselves to a nymph bite, and stone fly patterns are producing. He said you may also get a few stripping streamers or even the occasional fish rising for winter stone flys. A winter top water bite… Now that’s pretty cool stuff Erik! The panfish bite on lakes around Hayward has been a bit tough lately during the day with feeding windows tending to be limited to dawn and dusk. Crappies are still being found in mid lake basins around 18′ – 25′ of water while some gills are showing up in weed beds and along weed edges. Longer days and warming temps should trigger the spring time feed with better daytime bites coming in the next couple of weeks. Ice depths continue to be well over 2′ on most lakes and you may even need an auger extension on some. Snowmobile or snowshoe travel is best on most lakes with heavy snow unless you’re able to find a plowed road for ATV’s. Shane Sipsas from Iron River has been dialed into a good evening crappie bite that’s been consistently producing for him all winter long. Look at those beauties. Nice work Shane!
If your kids are looking for something to do during spring break, a day on the ice or wading a stream might be just the ticket to get rid of some cabin fever. You might even get a sun tan out there. Who needs a beach?!!!