by: Steve Suman
This week’s forecast seems to change nearly hourly, but general indications are for a return to cold (i.e., seasonal) temperatures. A front currently scheduled to arrive Tuesday “could” bring some snow accumulation, as could Arctic air arriving mid-week. Enjoy! It’s winter in the North Woods!
“Recent snowfall renewed the snowmobile and ski trails,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and lake ice is consistent, though maybe with some slush in untraveled areas.
“Walleye action is best during late afternoons into dark for anglers using shiners on tip-ups in 8-10 feet over deep weeds and drop-offs. During daylight hours, fish fatheads on small jigs in 15-18 feet.
“Northern pike anglers are catching fish when placing their baits just above shallower weeds – sometimes this is just below the ice – but bigger pike are coming off the secondary break in 12-15 feet. Sucker minnows and shiners under tip-ups will provide good action.
“For crappies, fish deeper basins and plan to drill holes and keep on the move following the fish. Fish a variety of depths, as the fish are also moving up and down in the water column.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says anglers again took advantage of awesome fishing conditions.
“Walleye anglers report success on the clear lakes when fishing minnows on jigging spoons and Jigging Raps, as well as tip-ups with walleye suckers and shiners.
“Northern pike are hitting large shiners and northern suckers on tip-ups.
“Crappie anglers fishing in deeper basins are catching fish with waxies and spikes on Demon ice jigs and with rosy reds and crappie minnows on tip-downs.
“Panfish anglers can catch bluegills and perch by fishing plastics on shallow structure such as weed beds and wood.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses human impacts on water.
“While northern Wisconsin is still one of the most beautiful places around, it is fun to picture what its lakes and rivers looked like before human development. Of course, we can only visit these images in our imaginations. As we are all well aware, humans have left a permanent mark on the landscape, but the statistics on human impacts on water are staggering.
“The American Fisheries Society reports there are more than 84,000 dams in the United States that are at least 50 feet tall, and many thousand more that are smaller. These dams exist for a variety of reasons and impound more than 600,000 miles of rivers and streams, and more than 2.3 million stream road crossings use culverts.
“These all add up to a very large human impact on natural waterbodies. However, all of these structures – many installed long ago – provide major opportunities for improving the fish populations in the effected waterbodies going forward. Fisheries biologists and engineers are learning more and more about how to make effective structures that can serve both humans and fish.”
Deerfoot Lodge will host its Sixth Annual Freeze Your Buns Off Crappie Ice Fishing Contest Saturday and Sunday February 3-4, on the Chippewa Flowage. The contest awards a grand prize, door prizes, prizes for fish length (crappie and northern pike), and prizes for best dressed, best wipe-out, and best photograph. There is a cocktail hour Saturday evening and complimentary fish fry brunch Sunday afternoon. The entry fee (after Jan. 15) is $50/individual and $80/family. For more information, visit www.deerfootlodge.com or call (715) 462-3328.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
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 29 Hayward Power Sports trail report says the past weekend was a great one in Sawyer County, with many visitors and lots of traffic on the trails. Those trails did get rough with the traffic and some icy spots from the Friday warm-up, but groomers are smoothing out things. There are some icy/bare spots in the open and on the roads, but the wooded trails and lakes are good. Chippewa Flowage has good snow and the groomed trails leading in and out are very good. Groomers are working the trails in the Birchwood and Loretta areas and they are in very good condition. In the Moose Lake area, there is some brushing work in progress and groomers will continue working on cutting some of the moguls. It will not take much snow to patch those bare and icy spots. Please note that in the near future there will be a slight and temporary reroute on Tuscobia Trail by Lemington. Look for signage and barricades indicating the reroute. There is a trail closure on Hwy 63 north of Bodecker Rd. to the Bayfield County line and Trail 5/27 from Tuscobia Trail south to the Rusk County line. Surrounding counties report trails in good condition.
The January 29 Travel Wisconsin trail report says all Washburn County snowmobile trails are open and in great condition, with a base of 5-12 inches. Always use caution on the trails, as you may encounter active groomers.
The January 25 Cable area trail report says the area received 3-6 inches of new snow last week and there is a base of 5-8 inches. Two areas remain of concern, including Trail 90 at Old Grade and Federal Rd. where there is heavy logging traffic; and Trail 15 north of Club Lake Rd., where a spring weeping from a hillside has ice running down and across the trail.
The January 25 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Clam Lake area says trail conditions are fair and the base is 3-8 inches. All Ashland County trails are open and grooming continues on all except Trail 13 (Ashland-Marengo). The tri-county corridor is open.
This Thursday, February 1, Northwest Relic Riders will hold a “ride to lunch” on the Tuscobia Trail. The ride is open to the public and riders meet at 10 a.m. at the Wannigan. For more information, visit www.relicriders.com or call Bob Sosnowski at (715) 462-9696.
Walleye fishing is fair to good on the deep, clear lakes, with prime hours running from late afternoon into after dark. Concentrate on weeds and drop-offs in 10-20 feet, fishing shallower water for the evening bite. Effective baits and presentations include walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups and minnows on jigging spoons and Jigging Raps. During daylight hours, try fatheads on small jigs.
Northern pike provide great fishing opportunities and they hit baits throughout the day. Drop baits just above shallow weeds for the most action, but for bigger pike, target breaks in 12-15 feet. The most productive presentation for both areas is large shiners and northern suckers on tip-ups.
Crappie fishing is good at various depths in deep lake basins. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, as well as on tip-downs. Check the ENTIRE water column, from top to bottom.
Panfish anglers using waxies and plastics on small jigs are catching bluegills and perch around shallower weeds, wood, and other structure.
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Squirrel; Ruffed grouse in Zone A (Northern Zone); Bobcat hunting/trapping season Period 2.
Feb. 1: Northwest Relic Riders “ride to lunch” on Tuscobia Trail (715-462-9696).
Feb. 1: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area snowshoe adventure, 11 a.m.-noon (715-463-2739).
Feb. 2: Crex Meadows Candlelight Snowshoe Hike; 6-8 p.m. (715-463-2739).
Feb. 15: Seasons close: Coyote trapping; Raccoon trapping and hunting; Red and gray fox gun and trapping.
Feb. 15: Sawyer County Fisheries Forum, 6:30 p.m. at Hayward High School.
Feb. 15: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area snowshoe adventure, 11 a.m.-noon (715-463-2739).
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.