Fishing Report: Can’t generalize ice conditions due to thaw

By George Langley

NORTHERN WISCONSIN – What a long, strange trip this year’s weather has been! At the time of this writing, all we can do is hope for cold. And some snow would be nice, too. Sometimes it’s easy to say what the next week will be like based on the week before. This is not one of those times!

A lot of ice melted during the warm stretch. We are averaging about two to five inches on some lakes, with some newly open water again. This is down from the eight or so inches we were beginning to see on many lakes. Nothing about conditions can be generalized right now. Check your ice thickness out there as you go, even and especially if it’s a spot you’ve been to earlier.

Walleye action has been good. People were getting fish on the Eagle River Chain in the bays in the evenings, and they still are in areas where they can get out. As usual, the evening bite is better, but some fish are being caught in the afternoons also. Either sucker minnows or golden shiners are the baits of choice under tip-ups.

Northern action has been great. We were just gaining access to the deeper, weedy places on lakes and we saw a nice up-tick in numbers and size come with that. Larger minnows like large shiners or pike suckers work best for these fish. They are mostly daytime feeders, so many anglers will fish northerns in the afternoons and walleye in the evenings. We’ve heard a mix of nice big fish being caught, along with smaller fare.

Panfish action has started slowly. It began as an issue of not being able to access all the spots and just when things were getting good, we’re back to the same issue. There have been some reports of perch in the weeds, but most of these have been pretty small. If you have access, now is the time to think of bouncing some small stuff off the bottom of the mud flats.

Bluegills have been hitting to start, but we have yet to hear of big concentrations. Waxies are best for these fish. The crappie action has yet to really start because people have been reluctant to go out over deeper water this soon. Give it a little more time and anglers will be out over the holes on Northwoods lakes.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Good luck and good fishin’!

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