Jarrid Houston column: Ice anglers catching lots of smelt on hook and line
Not a ton to report this week as I'm just returning from a much deserved vacation. However our teammates, friends and family have been hard at it, so of course I have some info to share. Ice fishing this late winter has been nothing short of exha...
Not a ton to report this week as I'm just returning from a much deserved vacation. However our teammates, friends and family have been hard at it, so of course I have some info to share. Ice fishing this late winter has been nothing short of exhausting. Continuing on the path of roller coaster weather has a lot of anglers finding other outdoor activities to do this last week. For me, it was a warm desert sun vacation in the great Southwest.
Back home, we have gone from shoveling snow to working around flooding. Hopefully in the next couple weeks, things will set up for a nice "late ice" period. Until then, wear your waterproof rubber boots and make good decisions.
Lake Superior continues to be the most popular spot fishing in our area. Anglers are still reporting catches of good lakers on both Wisconsin and Minnesota waters. With the recent warm-up and rain, it is important to be cautious. As any avid ice angler knows, things can change in a hurry, especially on the Gitch. Water deeper than 40 is producing some nice size fish. We are still seeing giant schools of baitfish (smelt and herring). If you're looking for a nice smelt fry, the little fish are already staging near shore for their spring spawning run. Now is a good time to grab some light panfish gear and fill up a bucket. I like to utilize a small spoon and tip it with a crappie head or wax worm. Lakers and salmon are still being caught on a mix of heavy spoons with meat. Remember, patience is a key factor for fishing Lake Superior.
The St. Louis River has been on the silent side due to the recent weather. Look for the river to enter the very early stages of ice out. Although it will be a while, shorelines will start to weaken in the coming weeks and access will be difficult if not dangerous.
Inland waters have been next to impossible to fish. Between getting machines stuck and putting up with continuous slush pockets and crusted ice, most anglers have been staying off the inland lakes. For those who are still being ambitious and are getting out, fishing is certainly picking up. Targeting deeper basins for roaming crappies and deeper vegetation is still producing. Go-to's continue to be a mix of smaller tungsten jigs with soft plastics or panfish forage spoons. Let's all cross our fingers that we continue down the path of melting rather than adding. Spring is on its way.
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.