It is a rainy, foggy Monday in the north woods, but what a week we have ahead if forecasts hold true! Every day this week (after today) is “scheduled” for highs in the 60s. This shift brings the end of snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, but ice fishing continues. Angling success will improve as long as we have traversable ice ... meaning the ability to get out to – and backfrom – your favorite fishing spots. Use good sense – open water season is not far down the road and we would like you to be around to participate in it!
Please note: The 2011-12 hunting and fishing licenses expire March 31. New licenses are now available and valid April 1 through March 31, 2013. Purchase licenses at authorized license agents, DNR service centers, online, or by calling 1-877-945-4236.
Please note, too, that game fish season (i.e., walleye, northern, etc.) closed March 4, more than one week ago. A few people apparently remain unaware, with reports some anglers – until informed of the closed season – intended to target walleye this past weekend.
“Ice fishing remains somewhat in a state of flux,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Travel on the lakes is limited by deep snow with slush or standing water under it, and as of this past weekend, many lakes are impassible by motorized vehicle. Ice travel is inconsistent so use caution, and while it can be difficult, foot travel is the only option.
“Longer, warmer, days will melt the snow and help fishing activity. Conditions can change in a matter of a few days, so keep an eye on your favorite lake.”
Jim and Dennis at Hayward Bait say fishing is okay and ice thickness is good. Getting on the lakes can be a challenge, however, and it can be kind of a mess once you get there. This is a good time to start thinking about and preparing for open water fishing season.
Al at Pastika’s says fishing action is good if you can get on the ice, but conditions are showing improvement. Most fish are suspending somewhere up off the bottom, so use your flasher and scan the entire water column. Depths will vary from lake to lake.
Warm weather is dropping the snow, making for better travel and turning on the panfish, according to guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations. He says bluegills and crappies are mostly in deep water and advises using electronics to check if fish are suspending or tight to bottom. Downsize tackle for more action – use four-pound line for crappies and two-pound or lighter for bluegills.
At Anglers All on Chequamegon Bay in Ashland, Carolyn says bay ice is good (as of the weekend) and anglers are getting out as far as Bodin’s. Those fishing the channel are still picking up a variety of fish, including perch, sturgeon, salmon, and brown trout. There are reports of hot walleye action at Second Landing.
“The deep snow really cut down on access to lakes,” says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, “and the 4-5 inches of slush that formed under the snow made foot travel very difficult. Recent warm temperatures are knocking down the snow level and once the weight of the snow is gone, the ice should “pop up” and drain the water back down the holes. This will improve lake access and pick up the panfish action.”
With the abrupt change in weather, this Cable area snowmobile trails report for March 12 pretty much say it all: “Well, the end is here!” That is it for this snowmobile season, but it will not be long before it is time to hit the ATV and biking trails.
Bass anglers: Don’t miss the Hayward Bass Club meeting at Hayward Rod and Gun Club Wednesday March 14, starting at 7 p.m. Through spring and summer, club members fish eight catch-and-release events on Wednesday afternoons/evenings. For information, call Wayne (715) 699-1015, email email@example.com), or call Hayward Bait (715) 634-2921.
We are on the cusp of some of the best crappie action of the season, but it could be very short-lived with the warming temperatures. Crappies are still in deep water, though you might them at any depth in the water column, from just off the bottom to just below the ice. This makes flashers/locators almost mandatory. Go light with both tackle and bait, and tip-downs work great for panfish. The top baits are crappie minnows and plastics on jigs or plain hooks, but waxies and Gulp! baits can also be effective on given days.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good near weeds and in deeper water. Downsize equipment and small baits to increase your success, and once again – use your flashers to search the entire water column. Use jigs or plain hooks with waxies, spikes, plastics, and even small minnows for larger bluegills in deeper water.
Perch action is good on the mud flats of deep lakes, but the fish are starting their move to shallower water spawning areas. As with the other panfish, be prepared to stay on the move, drill plenty of holes, and use your flashers to find fish. Once you do, fathead and plastics will do the trick, as will small minnows and spoons.
March 4: Inland game fish season closed (see regs).
March 7: New hunting and fishing licenses now on sale.
March 11: Deadline to remove ice fishing shelters north of Hwy 64.
March 14: Hayward Bass Club meeting (715) 699-1015; 634-2921.
March 15: Deadline to remove ice fishing shelters from WI-MI boundary waters.
March 19: OTC sales begin for leftover spring turkey permits.
March 20: Winter crow season closes.
March 31: Hunting, fishing licenses expire; Trout season opens on some Lake Superior tributaries (see regs).