What a difference a week makes. Last week we were chatting about the slow down in ice production, and just like that, we are back on track.
It certainly helps that we are finally getting some cold overnights, minimal wind and no snow storms. We are still a little behind schedule compared to the last few years, but are finally making headway.
Most all area waters are now ice-capped but vary in ice thickness. The bigger waters are holding anything from 2-4 inches and growing.
This does not mean we should jet out to our favorite big water spots without checking. Probably a better and safer idea to continue to chase fish on smaller lakes for at least another week. Any avid ice angler knows, mother nature can be quite witty and ice conditions can change in minutes. As far as fishing success goes, most anglers are finding some. Typical of early ice fishing, the bite is certainly on in our area. Here is our report, and it is a good one:
Lake Superior anglers are finding success both from the water and from the shoreline. Of course time on the water will pay out the most success. On the breakwalls from the entries, some lucky anglers are getting some nice pike, trout and the occasional salmon. Looper bugs or wax worms have been the ticket.
Given the nature of Lake Superior open water fishing this time of year, if you decide to give it a try, you likely will have all the room you want. As far as ice conditions go, we have some very thin film ice on select areas. Still on standby and looking forward to colder days ahead.
The St. Louis River has seen a lot of traffic in the back bays of Wisconsin waters. Ice conditions vary from 4-7", but the shorelines are dangerous, so be careful at access points. Anglers have been taking some nice crappies, perch and pike in shallow water using small tungsten jigs tipped with soft plastics. Some lucky anglers have even tangled with giant trophy caliber bluegills. These river bluegills are very precious in that there are not a lot of them. All the more important to release such a fish. Same goes for the crappies and perch in our system. No one should be filling buckets day after day.
With the pressure we are seeing on all area waters, such practice will take a toll on our fisheries. Don't be the person that judges ego based on the amount of fish harvested! Okay sorry to vent, ha.
River ice conditions are favorable in the back land-locked areas, but the big expansive waters are just getting started. Please, if you see someone on sketchy ice, it doesn't mean they know what they are doing. I say it all the time, the river is among the most dangerous waters anywhere and should be treated with the utmost respect.
Inland waters have been very busy this last week. Matter of fact, I have never seen so many people taking to the ice. Again, all that more important to think about before deciding to take fish home.
Inland waters are seeing anywhere from 4-10" of ice depending on where you are at. Some lakes are now starting to see ATVs and snowmobiles. If you decide to take the machines out, be very cautious and careful and stick to safer ice. Personally, I will wait at least another week before unleashing the machines.
We have been successful spending most of our time and effort in the mornings and later afternoons. Pike, bass and walleyes continue coming top-side with both simple tip-up rigs and jig sticks. Target areas have been in the 4-10 feet of water over soft bottom. Best baits this last week include but are not limited to: Forage minnows, buckshot gliders, frosty spoons and venom 360's. Also getting some nice fish with jigging raps.
Light and sound transmission through the ice is a deal for our success. In other words, try and be silent and don't turn on headlamps, this can spook fish! A staggering amount of people will be ice fishing this year, so plan on some finicky bites from time to time, especially on the weekends.
Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide (houstonsguideservice.com) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.