by: Steve Suman
Weather this week could be interesting! Forecasts indicate another “break” from the cold, with highs in the mid to upper 20s and even into the 30s late in the week. Late in the weekend, there is “potential” for a large storm. This is good incentive to get out and enjoy the mild days this week!
“We had a short reprieve from the bitter cold,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and the little warm up allowed some people to take advantage and get into the outdoors.
“Walleye anglers are catching some nice walleye in the evenings and the bite starts shortly after dark. Just before dark, set tip-ups with suckers and fatheads relatively shallow, off green weeds and the sides of drop-offs. Also working are fatheads and plastics on jigging rods with light line.
“Northern pike are in shallower green weeds and weed edges and some nice sized also. Most catches are by walleye anglers using suckers and fatheads on tip-ups.
“Crappies are in and around deeper holes and structure. Jig crappie minnows and artificials on small jigs. Anglers are also catching smaller crappies and perch on waxies.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says many anglers took advantage of the recent warm spell.
“Walleye action is a little slow. Anglers catching fish are using tip-ups with walleye suckers or jigging spoons rigged with fathead heads. During this mid-ice season, slide a touch deeper into the mid 20-foot range.
“Northern pike fishing is productive, especially with northern suckers or large shiners on tip-ups. Place them near or off weed beds and one flag over deeper water.
“Crappie action is steady. On some lakes, look for deep basins and use tungsten jigs tipped with waxies or spikes. On shallower lakes, fish points and deep weeds with aggressive style baits such as ultra light Rippin’ Raps and panfish spoons tipped with spikes or Euro larvae for finicky bites.”
Mike at Jenk’s says walleye fishing is a bit quiet, with most anglers now targeting other species.
“This time of year, hitting Round Lake for walleyes with walleye suckers and #7 or #9 Jigging Raps is not a bad idea.
“Northern pike action is solid on Round Lake and the west side of Chippewa Flowage, with shiners the bait of choice above all others. For the most action, work weed beds and deeper cover.
“Crappie fishing is solid on most lakes. Blueberry Flats, Pine Point, and Chief Narrows on the Flowage are producing action and reports from Little Round Lake indicate a decent crappie bite as well. Most anglers are using minnows and waxies on ice jigs, but Jigging Raps, Straight-Up Jrs., and various Gulp! micro baits are all effective.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says fishing on Chequamegon Bay remained mostly stable last week, with warmer temperatures bringing anglers out in full force.
“Ice conditions changed following strong northwest winds last Wednesday. Some ice broke up off Bodin’s and a big pressure crack developed between Houghton Point and Long Island. There are trucks going out off the Ashland side of the Bay, but as always, check your way.
“You never know what you might catch in the channel and last week an angler supporting the saying by catching a baby tiger musky!”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Chippewa Flowage bluegill growth.
“The Chippewa Flowage is already a great panfish destination, but results of a 2017 survey indicate it may be getting even better.
“In 2017, the Hayward DNR fisheries team collected otiliths (ear bones) from bluegills on the east side of the Chippewa Flowage, following up on a similar analysis in 2012. Biologists can use otiliths to determine the age of fish and in turn determine their growth rate.
“Results of the 2017 analysis found bluegill growth had increased considerably since 2012 and are currently reaching 8 inches in about six years, which is very solid growth for northern Wisconsin. This growth translates to a population with an average size of 6.1 inches (5.7-inch average in 2012).
“The improved growth is attributed to an improved predator (walleye) population that reduces bluegill density. In most cases, panfish grow faster at a lower density.
“With consistent good growth, Flowage panfish size should continue to improve – provided that growth benefits are not offset by high rates of harvest.”
Wisconsin’s winter Free Fishing Weekend is January 20-21 and both residents and nonresidents can fish anywhere in the state without a license or trout stamp. This includes all inland waters (check the regulations for exceptions!) and the Wisconsin side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. General regulations and seasonal restrictions remain in force. For more information, search “Free Fishing Weekend” the DNR website.
Take advantage of the free fishing days and participate in the following ice fishing events.
Elk Country ATV Club’s 10th Annual Ice Fishing Contest on Upper Clam Lake is Saturday, January 20, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. There are adult and kids divisions and participants can win an ATV (raffle tickets $10), fish locator, ice auger, ice shack, and more. Food and beverages are available on the ice. The entry fee is $5. For information, call (715) 794-2298.
Northland Area Builders is holding its 8th Annual ice fishing event Saturday, Jan. 20, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., on Nelson Lake. The entry fee is $10 for adults and $5 for youth 14 and younger. Register at Nelson Lake boat landing on Gerlach Road. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Nelson Lake Association fish sticks programs and other local non-profits. There are cash and raffle prizes – receive one raffle ticket for each non-perishable food donation. The Grand Raffle Prize (tickets $10) is an ice fishing package that includes a shack, flasher, and auger. The first 40 kids receive a tip-up and one young angler will win a fish locator. For information, call (715) 296-7881.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
Remember your trail pass! The DNR reminds snowmobilers to make sure snowmobile registrations are current and snowmobiles display a valid snowmobile trail pass. Wisconsin requires a trail pass to operate on all public snowmobile trails. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations.
The January 15 Hayward Power Sports trail report says last weekend was a great one in Sawyer County, with snow, cold, many riders, a snow cross race, and more. Groomers are out in full force, making great trails. There is a base of 4-6 inches and reports throughout the county say trails are in very good condition and the lake trails are great. Trail 9 from Couderay to Devils Lake Road is very poor, with washouts/ruts and little snow – ride with caution. Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, Washburn, and Price county trails are good; Rusk trails are partially open; and Barron trails currently closed.
A January 15 trail report for Washburn County says all trails are open and in fair to good condition. Please note that crews have not yet groomed many Birchwood/Long Lake area trails. Snow cover in the southeast part of the county is marginal in spots. Use caution, as you may encounter active trail grooming equipment.
The January 12 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Clam Lake area says all Ashland County trails are open, groomed (except Trail 13), rideable, and in fair condition. Beware of open water on all trail system.
On January 18, Northwest Relic Riders is holding a “Ride to Lunch” in the Birchwood area, meeting at 10 a.m. at Bar H Implements in Stone Lake. The ride begins at 10:30 a.m. and is open to the public. For more information, call club president Jim Nyberg at (715) 865-2486.
Walleye fishing is fair to good and anglers are catching some nice fish, with best success in late afternoon into dark. Target depths to about 25 feet, around weeds, breaklines, and drop-offs. Primary baits include walleye suckers and fatheads, plastics, rattle and jigging spoons tipped with live bait, and Jigging Raps.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good and anglers are catching some nice fish. Concentrate on green weeds, weed beds, and weed edges in shallow to mid-depths. Northern suckers, shiners, and fatheads on tip-ups and jigs are all catching pike.
Crappie action is good in/over deeper holes and structure such as weeds, bars, and points. Best baits include crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, and Gulp! baits on small tungsten jigs and teardrops, as well as on Jigging Raps and spoons.
Jan. 18: Northwest Relic Riders “Ride to Lunch”; 10 a.m. at Bar H Implements, Stone Lake (715-865-2486).
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Squirrel; Ruffed grouse in Zone A (Northern Zone); Bobcat hunting/trapping season Period 2.
Feb. 15: Seasons close: Coyote trapping; Raccoon trapping and hunting; Red and gray fox gun and trapping.
Feb. 17: Drummond Sno Jacks Bar Stool Races (715-739-6645).
Feb. 22-24: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).
Feb. 26: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit; Mink trapping.