BY: Steve Suman
Starting Tuesday evening, the forecast for the remainder of this week is as simple as a forecast can be – “chance of snow showers,” though the chances vary somewhat each day. Temperatures (according the current forecast) will not reach above 32 degrees, but will dip into single digits a few times. The cold temperatures should help ice set, but the ice is not quite ready for action and any major snow accumulation will slow the ice making process.
Erik at Hayward Bait says winter finally arrived and lakes are just beginning to freeze-up well.
“The earlier warm weather conditions and some rain put early ice fishing on hold. Now that daily highs are barely breaking 20 degrees, many lakes are beginning to create, firm up, and restore the ice.
“Smaller bays, lakes, and ponds have fair ice, but conditions vary considerably from lake to lake. If you plan to venture out, use extreme caution, especially near shorelines, and use first-ice safety precautions.
“Northern pike anglers are finding the best action just off weed the edges and on top of weed flats, fishing shiners and northern suckers on quick-strike rigs suspended under tip-ups.
“To find bigger, more active crappies, hole-hop using an aggressive jig approach. Top baits include Acme glide and rattle baits, ultra-light Rapalas, small Jigging Raps, small rattle/non-rattle jigging spoons, Buckshot Rattle Spoons, Forage Minnows, Clam’s Panfish Leech Flutter Spoon, and Swedish Pimples tipped with live bait or soft plastics.
“Panfish are from as shallow as 12 feet to 17-20 feet along weed edges. Anglers report success on small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, and plastics.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says there is not much to report so far, but things are moving forward as ice is just starting to form on the Chequamegon Bay shorelines.
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the history of fish stocking in Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin was one of the early leaders in fisheries science and in fish propagation (stocking). In 1875, the state established its first fish hatchery at the current location of the Nevin Hatchery in Fitchburg, and over time, built more hatcheries across the state.
“Early fish stocking consisted of Pacific salmon species, brook trout, lake trout, and whitefish. In 1880, the state brought in rainbow trout from the West Coast and by 1885 Wisconsin was stocking over half a million annually. Walleye stocking began in 1883 and in 1887, the state brought brown trout into the stocking program.
“During the early decades of fish propagation, Wisconsin produced huge numbers of stocked fish. In 1937, the state claimed a national record by stocking more than one billion fish (all species combined). Over time, the state added more species to its stocking portfolio, including lake sturgeon, muskellunge, northern pike, and smaller numbers of warm water fish such as bass.”
Hunters who missed the Dec. 10 deadline to apply for a 2018 spring wild turkey season permit will get a second chance in late March when the DNR offers leftover permits for sale. Hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license and wild turkey stamp when purchasing harvest authorization. Permits cost $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents, plus the cost of the Spring Turkey License and Wild Turkey Stamp. The 2018 Spring Youth Turkey Hunt is April is 14-15. Regular turkey season runs April 18 through May 29 and consists of six separate seven-day periods. For more information, search “turkey” and “common questions about turkey hunting” on the DNR website.
On January 6, Pat’s Landing Resort is hosting its 6th Annual Tipper Tourney at on the Chippewa Flowage. Fishing runs from 8 a.m. through 4 p.m. and anglers must register all fish at the resort by 4:30 p.m. The contest limits fishing to the west side of the Flowage, excluding Crane Creek and Crane Lake, and each entrant can only fish three tip-ups. There are prizes for the longest northern pike, longest largemouth bass, and for the longest combination of the two. Contest officials will measure fish to the nearest quarter-inch, rounded down. There are randomly drawn door prizes and you must be present to win. Registration is on a first come, first served basis. The entry fee is $15 and entry forms are available at www.treelandresorts.com/hayward-resort-information/fishing-contests/tipper-tourney or call (715) 945-2511.
Cable Natural History Museum and National Audubon Society seeks volunteers for the annual winter bird census, the “Christmas Bird Count,” Saturday, Dec 16. Participants record and count various birds and bird species from dawn to dusk within 15-mile-diameter circles in the Cable and Hayward area. In addition, there is a need for feeder counter participants to survey bird feeders within those circles. For more information, contact Cable Natural History Museum at (715) 798-3890 or e-mail naturalist Haley Appleman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flambeau River State Forest welcomes visitors to use the new (almost completed) “Old Pine Trail” at the new headquarters. The boardwalk snakes around some old white pines with regeneration occurring around the edges, and part of the trail follows the Flambeau River. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.
Although ice is setting up on the lakes, it is still “iffy” and inconsistent from one spot to another – sometimes only a few feet apart, if that. Anglers should be patient and wait a bit longer before testing their luck to try their luck. There are also still reports of open water on some lakes following the rain and high winds less than a week ago. If you go, use extreme caution, go fully equipped and prepared, and follow ALL rules of ice fishing safety.
Dec. 16: North Exterior Zone Canada goose season closes.
Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt – farmland units only.
Dec. 25: Period 1 Bobcat season closes.
Dec. 26: Period 2 Bobcat season opens.
Dec. 31: Seasons close: Pheasant; Fall turkey zones 1, 5; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping; Frog.
Jan. 7: Late archery deer season closes.
Jan. 20-21: Free Fishing Weekend.
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Squirrel; Ruffed grouse in zone A (northern zone); Bobcat hunting/trapping season Period 2.