It’s not breaking news that the past couple of weeks have been cold and snowy throughout Wisconsin and most of the upper mid-west. Record snowfall and sub-zero temperatures have even the hardiest of northlanders screaming “Uncle!” If winter is your thing, it looks like it’s going to be around for awhile. There’s lots of ice on our lakes and plenty of snow to go along with it offering a bunch of fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling options. Travel conditions on our inland lakes have become problematic, but new ice around the Apostle Islands has created some cool opportunities to get on water that we don’t see every year. The inland game fish season closes on March 3rd, but you’ll still be able to pursue panfish as well as all species on Lake Superior. Despite the crazy weather, Aron, Erik, and Josh have still been plugging along and producing some good fish. Here’s their latest update on ice and fishing conditions.
If you’re willing to put up with terrible travel conditions, Josh Teigen says that the inland bite has been great. Deep basins in 20′ – 35′ of water have been holding hungry crappies, bluegills, and perch. Use small jigs tipped with waxies, and drill holes until fish are located close to bottom on your electronics. Pike have also been active with some good fish coming on tip-ups with shiners positioned along weed edges. Josh says that there’s “tons” of snow and slush on the lakes, and snowmobiles are the only option to get out there unless you’re willing to strap on a set of snowshoes. Trout fishing around the Apostle Islands continues to be good also. Josh’s crews have been catching browns and splake in 20′ – 30′ of water and lakers in 150′ – 200′. Spoons tipped with minnows and tip-ups with shiners have been the most consistent presentations. The travel conditions aren’t much better around the islands according to Josh with snow and slush hampering things, and it’s snowmobile only there as well. A trip to the islands can be a real adventure, but keep in mind that it’s no place to go prospecting. If you’re new to the area or unfamiliar with the water, make sure you hire a guide to get you on good ice and fish. Ice and travel conditions can change daily, and it can be extremely dangerous. That’s a sweet looking brown and one heck of a pike. Stay out of that slush Josh!
Erik Thue checked in from the Hayward Lakes area, and travel conditions headline his report also. He says it’s been “difficult” to say the least with snowmobiles and snow shoes the only option unless you find the occasional plowed road that’s been maintained. Despite tough travel, the panfish bite for Erik has held up well. Again, it’s a deep basin bite with small tungsten jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, or plastics all working depending on the day. Walleye fishing has improved a bit toward the end of the gamefish season with the bite happening right around dusk close to weed beds in 18′ – 22′. Tip-ups with shiners or suckers have been the most productive for putting eyes on the ice. The pike fishing has been a bit inconsistent. Erik says most of his success has been using tip-ups on top of weeds and inside turns. He recommends setting those tip-ups over the weeds and just off the edge to give yourself the best chance. Definitely good to see those walleyes getting active again Erik. Don’t drown in all of that snow!
Aron Kastern and his bunch have been spending time on Chequamegon Bay and around the Apostle Islands. He says the bay itself has experienced some really bad drifting along with new pressure cracks opening up. If you can navigate all of that, there’s a good mixed bag bite on the bay that continues to produce perch, pike, trout, whitefish, and big burbot. Aron says its all about being willing to move and hopping from spot to spot until you find feeding fish. Study your maps to find subtle structures or points around the flats or travel corridors along weed lines and contour lines. Keep your presentations generic with medium to small sized jigging spoons tipped with minnow parts, and always have set lines or tip ups set with shiners to cover more water. Better than average sized whitefish have been coming through the holes on most days along with some massive burbot from deeper water. Around the islands, Aron has been finding a “hot” lake trout bite in anywhere from 80′ – 220′ aggressively jigging heavy spoons and beetles tipped with herring or smelt. Big numbers and big fish days have all been happening. Aron’s sleeper shacks are still on the bay, but he says they will have to be pulled on March 15th. Get in touch with us if you want to get in on one of those shacks before time runs out. Look at the size of that burbot. That’s a crazy fish Aron… Stay on ’em brother!
Don’t forget to check the Wisconsin DNR website for regulations regarding the removal of ice shacks from lakes as dates vary depending on where you’re located. The extended forecast is calling for cold temperatures to hang around, and travel conditions on our lakes could improve if the slush under all of this snow starts to freeze up. Not that I’m hoping for more cold, but just saying… We’ll keep on shoveling and keep you posted!