Time certainly flies when you're having fun. It's crazy to think that it’s already boat show season. Thoughts of nice summer days and open water are upon us.
I anticipate we will have an early spring thaw, but time will tell. The general ice fishing season is winding down, so now is the time to chase game fish before they are off-limits. Many Minnesota seasons (for walleye, pike, etc.) close Feb. 23 and Wisconsin seasons close March 1.
Of course, there will still be plenty of opportunities for panfish and Lake Superior fish, but make sure to check your respective state regulations to learn more. I’m looking forward to late-ice panfish chases, North Shore casting, smelting, stream fishing and destination spring walleye trips.
Here is our weekly fishing report:
Lake Superior is seeing some action in the form of open-water fishing. Before the subzero cold snap, there were even some boats out on the Gitch finding some cool success.
I mentioned this last week, but if you plan to fish from a kayak, canoe or boat, take all the necessary safety precautions and be very careful. Most who are ambitious enough to fish the North Shore open water are finding some success.
This time of year, fish can be in shallower water near shore areas. Some shore casters are chucking spoons and getting a fish or two to go. Another tactic, of course, is casting weighted bobbers over live bait. North Shore angling will get more attention as we move into March.
For Lake Superior ice anglers, Chequamegon Bay is still the go-to, but some of the ice in the extended areas up near Bayfield is inconsistent. The best ice is in and around Ashland and Washburn.
The best tactics continue to be jigging shallower water away from people and in areas that look like they have not had much pressure. Don't forget to set up some set lines as they can certainly bring some success. I like to scrape my minnow scales so they flake off and create more of a flashy attraction. Also, it’s important to vary the depth of your presentations as you never know how deep the fish will be.
The lower St. Louis River is still kicking out some smaller walleyes off the shallower flats. Fish can be caught along many different sections of the river, so if you are struggling in one area, try moving.
We’re still waiting for a fresh influx of returning walleyes from the big lake. Every year is different, so it will be interesting to see when or if this happens during the remaining ice season.
Back bay panfish are gaining a little more attention lately. Spread out away from other anglers for the best success.
Inland lakes are giving up nice catches of panfish roaming around in numbers. Basin fishing has been getting better as soft substrate mud bottoms are having more and more bug larvae growths.
Here again, spreading out is important. It can be a magical bite when you set yourself up in an area to intercept roaming schools of crappies. I like to concentrate my efforts on perimeters of the deeper basins. Best depth for me is usually around 25 feet of water.
The walleye bite inland has been on the slower side lately, although a few fish are coming during low light periods. I find the later afternoons to be better.
Hopefully, everyone gets a chance to stop down at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center for the annual Duluth Boat, Sports, RV & Travel Show. Houston Guide Service has a booth by the main entrance and will be presenting several seminars daily. It is also a great opportunity to start researching new fishing-related products for 2020.
The show runs through Sunday. Stop down and say hello!
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.