More winter weather (i.e., snow) and stiff winds are on the way, but with temperatures that are more seasonal. It IS February, so there is still some winter ahead. Take advantage of the great cross-country skiing and snowmobiling conditions!
“Now that we are further into February,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “we will start to see some changes in relation to warming temperatures and longer daylight periods.
“Generally speaking, fishing success is fair, with action good one day but not the next. An angler’s best bet is to drill many holes and keep looking until finding some fish. If you use electronics or cameras to locate fish and are not marking anything, it is time to move. If fish you find are not biting, it is time to move. Downsizing remains important, as does fishing during the bite windows of early morning and late afternoon.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says fishing is good and anglers should be clear for getting around on the lakes, even with the fresh snow.
“Walleye action is best in mornings and evenings, off breaks, transition lines, and flats, in 22- to 28-foot depths. Spread tip-ups with walleye suckers and medium shiners over shallow and deep water. For jigging, locate weed growth such as sand grass. Jigging spoons are effective, but Jigging Raps, Acme Glides, and other minnow lures tipped with fatheads and small walleye suckers will produce on active fish.
“Northern pike fishing is good for anglers spreading tip-ups with large shiners or northern suckers over weed flats in 6-12 feet.
“For crappies, look to deep basins and holes in 27-35 feet. Tungsten jigs and plastics work well, but for finicky bites, change colors and plastics, tipping with waxies and spikes.
“Bluegill anglers should look around weeds on basin flats in 17-23 feet.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses hybrid fish and species-crossing possibilities.
“Closely related fish species frequently hybridize and the tiger musky, produced by the cross of a muskellunge and a northern pike, is a common example of a hybrid. Both species are in the same ‘genus,’ meaning taxonomically and genetically they are closely related. Can fish species not as closely related hybridize? A fascinating study from 1966 tells us the answer is yes.
“Researchers took black crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, and warmouth (all members of the Centrarchid or ‘sunfish family’) and artificially crossed them in the laboratory. Surprisingly, they were able to successfully cross all four species paired together. That is right – they made a crappie x bass hybrid, a bluegill x bass hybrid, and a bluegill x crappie hybrid, among others, which resulted in some very odd-looking fish!
“In most cases, the researchers were able to fertilize a large percentage of the eggs, but hatching success and survival of fry were very low for some crosses. That is one reason there is no confirmation that most of these crosses ever existed in the wild. In addition, spawning behavior of the different species in the wild would almost never bring them into contact with each other at the right time. Through the magic of science, however, the researchers were able to demonstrate that some species we consider to be quite different from one another are similar enough to make babies together.”
Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin is hosting its 23rd annual Family Ice Fishing Event on Lac Courte Oreilles this Saturday, Feb. 16, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Register at the public boat landing off Hwy K. There are thousands of dollars in prizes, many awarded by drawing for adult and youth division prizes for walleye, northern pike, crappie, bluegill, and perch. Event wristbands, necessary for ice fishing prizes, cost $5/adults and $1/kids 13-17 years. Kids 12 and younger fish free, sponsored by Retreat Home Furnishings. Purchase wristbands at Hayward Bait & Bottle, Outdoor Creations, Hayward Home Center, Stone Lake Bait and Tackle, and AAA Sports Shop in Spooner. Raffles include Grand Raffle prizes (tickets $5/each or 5/$20 and need not be present to win!), gun, 50/50 cash, and rip tickets. A pre-event ticket bundle is $75 ($130 value) and limited to 200 bundles. Food and refreshments are available at the landing. For more information, visit www.wfnw.net or call (715) 462-3559; 634-5650.
The Drummond Sno Jacks Bar Stool Races take place this Saturday, February 16, starting at 12 noon. If you can get it on skis, you can race it! The pre-race registration fee is $30; registration on race day is $50. The entry limit is 64 racers. Pick up entries at Bear Country, Black Bear, KD’s Bear Den, MJ’s Millpond, Cable Chamber of Commerce, and online at www.drummondwi.com. Check-in begins at 11 a.m.; races start at 12 noon. There is a live auction, raffle tickets (with the drawing after the race), and a cash drawing for up to $7500 – and only 125 tickets for sale. For more information, call (715)-739-6645.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
Snowmobilers should make sure their snowmobiles have a current registration and display a valid snowmobile trail pass, required to operate on all public snowmobile trails. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations.
The February 11 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says all trails are open, good to excellent condition, groomed, and with a base of 4-9 inches.
The February 11 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Rusk County says trails are good, with some rough spots, groomed, and have a base of 7-12 inches. Be aware of logging operations.
The February 9 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Clam Lake area says Ashland County trails are good to very good, groomed, and with a base of 15-20 inches. The closed trail from Marengo north to the east end of Ashland has a marked detour.
The February 8 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Phillips area says trails are good to great, groomed, and with a base of 8-12 inches. Logging continues on Trail 120 south of the big swamp and Fould’s Creek Road, and on Trail 108 between Trail 101 and Hwy 70. Take these areas slowly and expect icy conditions and logging equipment.
The February 7 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Bayfield County says trails are good, groomed, and with a base of 4-12 inches. Conditions remain variable, with hard bases and icy conditions. Use caution, be aware of maintenance equipment on the trail day or night, and please stay on the trails!
The February 7 Hayward Power Sports trail report says trails are very good, with crews vigorously grooming, panning, and brushing. Trails in the southern part of the county finally have good snow and the groomers are running!
Walleye action is fair to good, with low-light morning and evening hours offering the best chances for success. Look for fish near weeds in 20-30 feet in holes, on flats, transition areas, and breaks. Fish move shallower in the evening hours. The most productive baits include walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups, as well as jigs, Jigging Raps, and jigging spoons tipped with walleye suckers and fatheads.
Northern pike fishing is good to excellent for anglers fishing weeds in 8-15 feet. The best offerings include northern suckers and large shiners on tip-ups set in/on/over weeds and weed edges.
Crappie action is good for anglers who keep on the move and drill numerous holes. Look for fish in 12-35 feet of water, in holes and along deep weed edges. Be sure to check the entire water column from top to bottom. Top baits include tungsten jigs tipped with crappie minnows, waxies, and various plastic, as well as jigging spoons tipped with the same baits.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good. Look for fish around shallower weeds and transition areas in 10-30 feet. Baits of choice include waxies, spikes, and plastics on jigs, as well as small minnows for larger ‘gills.
Feb. 15: Seasons close: Fox trapping/hunting; Raccoon trapping/hunting; Coyote trapping.
Feb. 16: Brule River State Forest Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe event (715-372-5678).
Feb. 16: Drummond Sno Jacks Bar Stool Races (715-739-6645).
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.
March 10: Mink trapping season closes.
March 10: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. – turn your clocks ahead one hour.
March 18-22: Remaining spring turkey permits go on sale.
March 20: Winter crow season closes.