Houston column: Chequamegon Bay producing potpourri of fish
The bite was up and down last on account of the changing weather. We experienced snow, rain, sleet and gale-force winds off Lake Superior. That made for uncomfortable angling. Unless you have a hard sided house, the wind is always annoying, and worse, the fish were often in a lock-jaw mood.
Ice conditions in the area have not changed to much in the last two weeks. Some areas have seen some thicker ice, but not much, due to warm temperatures. Most inland lakes are hosting vehicle traffic now, but as always, use caution.
Also, stick to plowed roads, drive slow, spread out and for crying out loud — do not drill near an ice road. This only causes problems for flooding, etc. Lake Superior and the St. Louis River have seen some ATV and snowmobile traffic, but again be careful and check ice as you go.
Lake Superior has been hosting a fair amount of ice anglers in the Chequamegon Bay area. Ice thickness is between 8-12 inches near Ashland but much less near Washburn. Houghton point and north stil; ahd open water at mid-week.
It is important to spread out and fish areas that do not show any sign of old drilled holes. Depths are not as important as patience. We have been finding a fair bite near shore in 10-20 feet of water.
Most fish — splake, browns, whitefish, coho, pike and perch — are coming top-side with a mix of jigging raps and spoons tipped with wax worms or a minnow head. Set lines are taking a few fish but jigging has been better. Noise control is important; be quiet!
The St. Louis River saw a huge slow down last week for walleye anglers. Best bet is early mornings and late afternoons. Fishing shallow areas of 3-8 feet of water has been best. Daily catches included walleyes, pike, perch and a few burbot. Dead sticks tipped with a live fathead have been good. I like to place an orange bead on my line at the hook to add a little more visual presentation.
Shipping season closes this week, so look for ice to thicken up to safer levels.
Inland lakes in both states have shown some life. Depending on the day, and more importantly the time of the day, some fish are being caught in an active mood. Panfish are coming off of less pressured areas in shallower vegetation off transitions toward basins. Small jigging spoons has been good.
If you can't find willing biters, move. A few walleyes are still being caught a dusk. It is important to spread out your tip-ups.
"Take a Kid Fishing Weekend" starts Jan. 19. Anglers age 16 and older do not need a license if they are accompanied by a child younger than age 16 and are actively participating in "Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend" in Minnesota.
Wisconsin residents will have a free fishing weekend coming up the weekend of Jan. 19 as well.
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.