The aftermath of the extreme cold temperatures have changed the regional ice reports greatly. The landscapes of many areas on Lake Superior have changed overnight. We now have ice in most shoreline areas of the biggest freshwater lake in the world. If you are from the region, you know how rare this is.
Other area waters have ample ice that now can be accessed by high clearance vehicles and 4 wheel drive. Word from the wise though: Don't go off the beaten path unless you are prepared to get stuck. It's best to use lighter weight snow machines to access such spots. With the amount of snow we have accumulated, there is a fair amount of slush pockets to be aware of. Shovels should be readily available and part of your equipment arsenal. Fish success has been hit and miss lately, but that is not uncommon for this time of year.
Lake Superior has fishable ice in the immediate Duluth area, but this ice is not for everybody. If you are a newbie to ice fishing, it is important to seek out someone with ice experience. More importantly, Lake Superior ice experience. Ice depths vary from 3-7" in the Twin Ports area. Most anglers are gingerly walking out near 21st street and the Leif Erickson Park areas. Some have been fishing downtown Canal Park as well. Depths of 25-40 feet are yielding catches of coho salmon and herring. Lake trout are coming from deeper waters of 45'-75'. Smaller spoons are better for the salmon and larger heavier spoons are better for the Lakers.
Wisconsin waters of Apostle Islands region are also hosting new fishermen. Splake, browns, lakers and whitefish have been mixed bag catches. On Lake Superior, be patient and quiet. Sit and wait and be good about noise pollution.
The St. Louis River gave up a few nice catches of walleyes this last week. Many presentations have been good, but Buckshot flutter spoons in 1/8 oz tipped with a fathead has been the ticket. We focused on small creases over shallow flats in 4-8 feet of water. Like Superior, patience and noise control are a big deal. Bite windows are always important this time of year, but we have actually been catching a few fish midday.
Inland lakes around the region have been busy with angling pressure. Panfish success has been tricky lately with the weather changes, but things should pick up as we move toward longer days. Best bet continues to be "ice trolling" and checking for active feeding fish. Downsizing and slowing presentations is important this time of year. Some days it's best to just dead stick and wait. Pike, bass and a few walleyes are still coming in on set lines of weed breaks. Pike and bass during the day and walleyes in low light periods.
Next weekend is our annual Duluth Boat, Sport, Travel and RV show down at the DECC. Our team will again be hosting a booth and providing seminars. Come down and chat with me and let's talk fishing.
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.