What a whirlwind of changing conditions. Just like that, we are entering winter temperatures and starting to see ice forming on small shallow waters. In most years, we'd have lots of time before ice fishing starts. But this year, I forecast we will have safe, walkable ice in the next few weeks.
I was hoping to get the boat out at least a couple more times, but have resorted to organizing for the next season. The plan now is to winterize the Lund, keep building ice houses and Smitty sleds and organize ice fishing gear.
For those that will continue to wet a line in the open water, here’s our report:
Lake Superior is still putting out some good fish on Chequamegon Bay continues, especially smallmouth bass. Drifting sucker minnows is still working well and turning some dandy fish.
Stream fishermen have been having some good success this last week in all tributary streams of the Gitch. Best tactic for us has been hardware in the form of small spinner baits or flat fish rigs. Hard to beat the beauty of a stream brown trout this time of year. (A reminder that shore anglers should wear some sort of blaze orange when venturing through the woods during hunting season.)
The St. Louis River has been on the silent side this fall. I can't remember a year when the river has been so quiet. With all the pressure off the river the last several weeks, I forecast a great early ice season bite.
Inland waters are seeing some shore ice and the small back shallower bays are starting to make way for ice lock. For the most part, public launch docks have been removed and parking lots remain empty.
Fishing success this time of year can be magical. Tactics should not change from what was/has been working the last few weeks. For us, live bait has been the ticket.
If your boat is put away, there are plenty of productive shore spots to try your luck.
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.