We want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Hopefully some of you find some time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors over the holidays.
Fishing has been good recently but last week's warm weather slowed ice progress. A few weeks ago, I was hoping we were going start to see some vehicle traffic on select area lakes. Unfortunately, I don't think that will be the case as temperatures above freezing on several days halted ice making.
Some lakes may have safe ice to hold snow machines and ATV's, but with the recent weather we are back to walking. Let's' all cross our fingers for some cold weather. If you do decide to trailer a snowmobile or wheeler, be very cautious. Also probably a good idea to check in with bait shops, resorts and/or guides before venturing out.
Lake Superior ice fishing opportunities are still unavailable. Talking with locals of Chequamegon Bay, word is the advancing ice has come to an abrupt stop. Furthermore, some areas have even lost ice the last few days. On the flip-side, some diehard anglers have brought back out the boats and been able to troll some salmon and trout successfully with stick baits and spoons. Some shore anglers are even finding some success long casting baits from shore. As of mid-week a few North Shore landings were open.
The lower St. Louis River is once again considered very dangerous. The warm spell, mixed with recent freighter and tugboat traffic has weakened the existing ice in many areas of the harbor. Many sections of shoreline have opened up and ice thicknesses varies tremendously. Best to wait out for another cold spell, so things can lock up again.
Inland waters of Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin have hosted many ice anglers this last week. Sunfish opportunities have been plentiful over shallow mud basin areas. Don't be afraid to fish vegetation though. Jigging 1/32 ounce tungsten jigs tipped with soft plastics through weeds has been good. We have also been finding success setting up tip-ups in shallow water during low light periods. Pike and bass continue to bite during the day and walleyes seem to be moving in during late afternoon into evening. Make sure to not spook fish with headlamps or foot traffic during low light periods. A few crappies are being caught using crappie minnows under floats.
Be safe out there ice anglers and don't forget to check in with bait shops, resorts and/or guides before venturing out.
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.