By: Steve Suman
The forecast is not pretty for this week, with no temperatures above -4 degrees before Friday and dangerous wind chills. The cold spell breaks Friday, with highs in the mid 30s (above zero!) forecast for Saturday and Sunday!
“This frigid cold will help build ice,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but anglers and riders will need to be cautious of changes that come with ice building. It is probable shorelines will expand and fresh new cracks develop as ice releases pressure, so if you venture out, be very cautious.
“The lakes are offering a consistent bite, with shiners and suckers on tip-ups getting some decent catches. Walleye action slowed some, but there is northern pike and bass activity off weed edges.
“Panfish are active, with crappies moving towards deeper holes. Mobility pays dividends and hole hopping is ideal for better catches. Tungsten jigs tipped with soft plastics or minnows are the best presentations for success.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says fishing is good on Chequamegon Bay.
“Many anglers fishing the Ashland side of the Bay are catching mixed bags of brown trout, coho, perch, northern pike, sturgeon, and smelt. There is about 16 inches of ice and people are driving out on it, but you must take care!
“Now that there is ice outside the Bay, people are flocking to Bayfield and Red Cliff. There is approximately 6 inches of ice, but snow covered and slushy, and the same off Bay View Beach. Anglers are reporting some excellent trout action from those areas. Some are taking machines, but please exercise caution and check your way.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses when ice anglers get those ‘three extra tip ups.’
“In northern Wisconsin, the most common response to ‘We’re having a baby!’ might be ‘Well, at least you get three more tip-ups!’ Introducing kids to fishing is one of the most fun and rewarding experiences any parent can have, but at what age do kids actually ‘count’ towards having their own lines in the water? Several veteran wardens say the answer less to do with age than with behavior.
“Warden supervisor Rick Peters advises, ‘To have his/her own lines out, a kid has to engage in fishing. We expect the kid to participate in setting out gear, though a parent might do most of that work, with the kid maybe just grabbing a minnow from a pail or setting the flag on the pin. When it comes time to catch a fish, the kid should do most of the work. Maybe the parent helps by taking the tip-up out of the hole, getting the kids hands on the line, and setting the hook, but the kid should be very actively engaged in getting the fish on the ice.’”
“Warden Tom Heisler says the issue is not restricted to people fishing with kids. Adults who have lines counting towards them also need to be actively fishing, as well as have a license. In other words, you cannot drag a friend or significant other out just for the extra tip-ups.
“Returning to taking out kids, Peters stresses, ‘The adults should be teaching youth how to fish, which occurs in learning increments. If the youth is just watching or is not capable of doing some tasks, it is best to let them watch the adult fish with the adult’s lines until they are ready – because teaching ethics starts early, too.’”
According to DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter, anglers should plan to attend the 2019 Sawyer County Fisheries Forum at Hayward High School Auditorium February 7, starting at 6 p.m. This annual event offers discussion of local fisheries issues, information on DNR fisheries projects, and offers anglers an opportunity to bring issues to the DNR.
Wolter will offer a presentation on work the Hayward fisheries crew accomplished this past year, providing updates on the LCO pike removal project, Namekagon River fish surveys, and creation of fishing trails on the Chippewa Flowage, with short videos highlighting these projects and more. During a portion of the meeting, people can visit various stations to discuss topics of interest including habitat projects, stocking, surveys, youth fishing opportunities, regulations, and law enforcement.
“The new format provides a better opportunity for people to share their thoughts and how we can improve their fishing experiences. If you are interested in fishing in the Hayward area, this is absolutely the place to be Feb. 7!”
Flambeau River State Forest is hosting its 27th Annual Candlelight Ski and Cookout Saturday, February 2, from 6-9 p.m., on the Flambeau Hills Cross Country Ski Trail. Beginning at the Flambeau Hills trailhead, crews will groom and track a 1.8 km trail loop, illuminating it with more than 600 glowing candles. Forest staff and friends will provide hot dogs, chili, spiced tea, and goodies. There will be picnic tables, BBQ grills available and a campfire maintained through the night. There is no admission fee, the Forest allows hiking and snowshoeing for this event, and the event will take place regardless of snow conditions. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
The DNR reminds snowmobilers to make sure their snowmobile has a current registration and displays 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 28 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says trails have a snow/ice base of 1-4 inches, groomed, and in fair to poor condition. Most are open, except trails east of Hwy 53 and south of Hwy 70. Conditions vary throughout the county and riders may encounter ice and/or rough trails.
The January 28 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Rusk County says trails are partially open, have a base up to 8 inches, and are in fair condition. The new warming shelter at Quarry Park just below the Big Falls Dam is ready for riders to enjoy. South of Hwy 8 is mostly bare, but there is decent snow holding in the Blue Hills area. Trails and logging roads on Rusk County Forest land are open to snowmobiles, but not groomed and are ride at your own risk. Trails crossing private land are not open.
The January 25 Cable area trail report says there is a base of 3-6 inches and trails are in good condition throughout the area. Dress accordingly with the cold temperatures and ride prepared.
The January 25 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Clam Lake area says trail conditions are good, with a base up to 8 inches. Ashland County trails are open, with a posted detour on Hwy 77 by Cayuga.
The January 25 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Bayfield County says trail conditions are good, have a base of 4-12 inches, and crews are grooming. Conditions remain variable throughout the county, with hard bases and icy conditions so use extra caution.
The January 25 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Park Falls/Phillips area says trails had grooming, have a base of 6-10 inches, and conditions are fair to good, with no real bare areas or too much ice.
The January 23 Hayward Power Sports trail report says trails from the center of the county north are flat and smooth. Tuscobia trail is also good and receiving grooming. Fresh snow has covered many bare spots in the open.
Ice depths up to 18 inches and some anglers are driving on the ice. This week should really grow the ice, but continue to use caution and check your way. As always, check with your favorite bait shop on your way to the lake for the most current ice conditions and productive presentations.
Walleye fishing is a bit slower, but anglers continue to catch fish – especially in somewhat shallower water during the low light evening hours. During the day, look for fish near the bottom. Use walleye suckers on tip-ups and jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads.
Northern pike action is good in and around weeds in 5-15 feet, as well as on the weed edges, with best success on shiners and suckers fished under tip-ups
Crappie fishing is good to very good if you can locate the fish and keep on them. Look to deeper holes and around weed near deeper water. Minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on tungsten jigs, plain hooks, and jigging spoons work well, and make sure to check the entire water column.
Bluegill fishing is good in deeper water and around shallower weeds near deep water. Go prepared to move with the fish, if necessary. Waxies, spikes, and plastics on tungsten jigs and teardrops will do the trick.
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 2; Squirrel (gray, fox).
Feb. 2: Flambeau River State Forest’s 27th Annual Candlelight Ski and cookout (715-332-5271).
Feb. 2-3: Deerfoot Lodge’s 7th Annual “Freeze Your Buns Off” Crappie Ice Fishing Tournament (715-462-3328).
Feb. 7: Sawyer County Fisheries Forum, Hayward High School Auditorium; 6 p.m.
Feb. 9: Copper Falls State Park Candlelight Ski/Snowshoe event (715-274-5123).
Feb. 9: Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season opens.
Feb. 15: Seasons close: Fox (red, gray) trapping/hunting; Raccoon trapping/hunting; Coyote trapping.
Feb. 16: Brule River State Forest Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe event (715-372-5678).
Feb. 20: Anglers must remove ice fishing shelters from Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters.
Feb. 21-24: 45th American Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Race (715-634-5025).
Feb. 23: Pattison State Park Winterfest and Candlelight Hike (715-399-3111).
Feb. 24: Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season closes (closes earlier if spearers reach harvest caps).
Feb. 28: Cottontail rabbit season closes in northern and southern zones.