If we had forgotten what winter Really feels like, it’s back! Sub zero temps, sometimes at 20 degrees below and more, has put a slow down to the activity of ice anglers.
Fishing has taken a bit of a hit, but fish still being caught. Mobility, due to cold, not travel conditions, biggest draw back. The cold, coupled with the lack of snow, is actually making ice travel better as ice depths are increasing.
Northern Pike: Fair-Good – Tip-up anglers have faired best using large shiners and suckers along outside weed edges of 10-16’. Not as many numbers, but some nice Pike in the low 30” range. Check holes often for freeze up and moving bait seems to help trigger hits.
Bluegill: Fair-Good – Not the easiest, since cold keeping anglers from being outside shacks, but nice Gills (7-9”) with several anglers catching (and releasing) Gills of over 10”! #4 tungsten jigs (Fiskas, Skandia, 13 Fishing) tipped with spikes or plastics (J:S Ice Mites, Little Atom wedgees, 13 Sneaks) in red, purple, motor oil and blue have worked this weekend.
Crappies: Fair-Good – Cold has made tip-down fishing near impossible (holes freeze too quick). Anglers finding Crappies suspended outside deep weeds or over mud flats taking minnows, small spoons (Demon Tongue, Slender spoons, Forage minnows) tipped with waxies. Small flutter spoon jigs, FJN, FJG and Lethal Cecils also effective.
Yellow Perch: Fair-Good - Seek mud flats of 16-28’. Anglers using tungsten Venom Glo jigs tipped with spikes (red) doing well when bouncing jig to “stir up” mud. Pimples, Halis, Rattle Spoons, Kastmasters-all with weight to get back down quickly. #5 tungsten jigs in glow colors also effective tipped with wigglers or a single red spike.
Walleye: Poor-Fair – Mostly after dark. Anglers reporting using suckers on tip-ups or minnow heads on glow (Flash Bang, Glo Shot spoons) or something with a rattle (Kastmaster, Buckshot spoons) to entice bites. Walleyes seem to be less aggressive, so slow down and scale down if necessary.
Largemouth Bass: Poor – Respond best on warmer days, don’t see much in forecast. Use small-medium shiners on tip-ups, forage minnow spoons w/ waxies.
Ice thickness has increased to 20+” on many lakes. With little snow, travel excellent for trucks, SUVs and ATVs. While anglers may not want to fish outside a shack for long periods, on windless days conditions not bad.