Jan 10, 2014

Scouting Report

Southeast Wisconsin Ice Fishing 

Southeast Wisconsin has some quality ice fishing opportunities within a short drive of the

Metro Milwaukee and Madison areas. Here are a few of my favorites that have been very productive.

Okauchee Lake

Okauchee is a good “action” lake with a healthy population of most species. Early ice fishing is good in the small bays off the main channel leading into the main lake. Last season, we had some great outings including one that produced 14 good-sized northerns and a big bass that had been bitten by something very big. These fish were taken shallow (4-6 ft.) in a back bay in mid-January. As the season progresses, the fish leave the shallow bays and head to the main lake points. Panfishing is always fast and furious in Ice House Bay and in front of the Golden Mast Restaurant access. Okauchee is very clear so fluorocarbon leaders and light lines are highly recommended.

Pine Lake

Pine Lake has that “up north” feel with un-crowded shorelines, pine trees and an occasional eagle soaring above.

                  The mouth of the access bay is a great spot for crappie, walleye and northern pike. There is some great structure there with good inside turns, humps, and deep drops with abundant quality weed cover. There are some very large walleye in Pine with fish in the 8-10 pound range occasionally iced. Crappies are above average in size and numbers.

Lac La Belle

La Belle is where I go if I want to score a big Northern Pike. The limit on walleye is one 20 in. or larger, so there are lots of 19 ¾ in. walleyes here. This lake has been stocked with the Lake Puckaway strain of northern pike since 2001. (Puckaway produced the state record). La Belle has some quality cabbage weed beds on steep dropping points that make for ideal big fish ambush points northern pike 40” and longer are not uncommon here. 

Good luck and be safe!

Kevin Moore, Muskies Etc. Guide Service (414)425-4575 ksmoore@wi.rr.com

South Central Wisconsin Ice Fishing

Madison Lakes / Yahara River

  • Madison lakes and the Yahara River hold plenty of panfish which can be targeted throughout the ice season. Back water areas of the Yahara River are first to freeze over and should not be overlooked. Even though some of these areas are quite shallow, they can hold a variety of fish, including bluegill, crappies, pike, and bass.   When fishing the lakes, try locating weeds for bluegills and don’t hesitate to throw out a tip up or two for roaming pike. Lake crappies can be found suspended in various areas, but spots near sharp breaks seem to hold fish consistently. Start around 20 ft. and systematically work your way deeper until crappies are found. It’s not uncommon to catch occasional bluegills and white/yellow bass in these areas as well. Perch can be found throughout the Madison lakes in water 20 ft. or deeper with a mud bottom present. With a large area to cover, it is important to implement use of flasher sonar and Aqua-Vu cameras to help locate these roaming schools.

Lake Koshkonong / Rock River

  • Often overlooked due to its shallow depth, Lake Koshkonong is a great fishery. Pan fish can be found near Bingham Point and in boat channels located around the lake.   Walleyes roam the lake and can be randomly found anywhere, but the “rock pile” located in the center of the lake holds fish consistently. Due to poor water clarity, fishing walleyes during the warmer months is not typically productive at night. However, the winter brings much clearer water and the walleye night bite becomes much better. Pike can be commonly found in shallow bays. Areas with only 2 ft. of water can produce large pike, especially late in the season. Look for near-by marsh grass or creek inlets for pike, since they stage in these areas prior to their spawning ritual. If SAFE ice is present, the Rock River near Blackhawk Island offers some great fishing opportunities. With deeper holes present, a variety of fish can be found holding in these areas. Find the channel and work the breaks in water depths of 5-12 ft. Jigging and tip-up fishing can produce river walleye, pike, and panfish.

Clear Lake

  • Clear Lake in Milton, WI offers some great panfishing throughout the ice season. Being a small lake, it’s fairly easy to locate fish. Numerous weed edges and a few holes will hold crappies and bluegills. Stay mobile and cover area until fish are located. Average sized pike are also present in this lake and can be taken with simple tip-up presentations.

Gibbs Lake

  • Gibbs Lake in Edgerton, WI is a smaller bowl shaped lake which offers excellent fishing action. Bluegills are very common in weedy areas, but most are stunted and size is a factor. Larger crappies are present, but they can be difficult to precisely locate. One thing Gibbs Lake does offer are decent sized predator fish. Numerous pike and large bass can be caught along the weed edges with tip-ups. Pike averaging 20-30 in. and bass averaging 14-18 in. are fairly common. Walleyes are present in this lake also, but are not commonly caught. Last year, I only saw one caught, but it was a respectful 20 in. A few years prior, a five pound walleye was pulled out during a local tournament. Gibbs Lake is a great location for kids due to the ease of catching smaller fish and short walking distance required.

Adam Walton

Pike Pole Fishing Guide Service

(608)290-3929

awaltonjfd@gmail.com

Central Wisconsin-

Lake Puckaway is popular for producing large pike and walleye from the beginning to the end of the ice season. The lake still holds the state record northern pike. We catch these fattened up shad fed brutes on tip-ups, with shiners, and jig poles with jign’ raps. It is shallow open water fishing so staying mobile until you run into active schools of fish is the key to success. The average depth is 5 feet across the whole lake.

Big Green lake is one of the few places you can go to battle a big lake trout. We set tip-ups with fresh cisco for cut bait and jig with custom made 40” jig poles.  Jigging flashy spoons usually gets their attention the best. Depths to target lake trout can range from 45 to 180 feet.  100 feet is the average depth of the lake and a good depth to start looking for trout. The season opens the first Saturday of January and the ice is best for navigation come February due to its excessive depths of 235 feet.  

For a good mixed bag of pike, walleye, and panfish, Fox Lake and Little Green offer an abundance of each. These two lakes can be fished very similarly. Pike are taken during the day with minnows set under tip-ups and walleyes are caught at night while using the same technique. These predators can be found roaming the weedy shallows in 5 feet of water all the way out to the basin in 15 feet.  Panfish, including perch, bluegill, and crappie, are caught on jig poles with spikes and waxies. The best depths are 10-15 feet for panfish.

Captain Justin Kohn is a full time fishing guide and tournament fisherman all across Wisconsin. You can reach him at (920)229-3494 check out Facebook.com/allseasonsadventures 

Castle Rock Lake Area

Early ice fishermen like to target Fish Lake, Ken’s Marina and the back waters of the Yellow River. As the ice get thicker, guys start fishing Buckhorn Bridge, Dirty Turtle, Pine Cove and the Old Highline Pole areas. When the ice is really thick, Guys also will start fishing the eastern shore on the Wisconsin River side of the lake. 

Panfish and pike can be targeted on Fish Lake and Ken’s Marina during early ice. These areas are shallow, weedy and wood structure areas that hold a lot of fish. For panfish, use small tungsten jigs tipped with bright colored plastics, waxies or spikes. Northern fishermen are using large shiners just below the ice out by the stumps and weeds out in the shallow waters.

On the main part of the lake in January when ice is thick enough for ATV and trucks, we will start fishing in front of the Little Yellow and the Dirt Turtle. Most people are targeting panfish and walleyes. Walleyes can be caught using rosies, medium shiners and fat heads about 6-12 inches off the bottom. Panfish can be caught using bright colored tungsten jigs tipped with bright colored plastics in the river channel or wood structure areas. As the winter progresses, we will start fishing along the Old Highline Poles to Southview and work their way towards the east side. Most fish targeted on the east side are perch, walleyes and crappies. Later in February, white bass can be caught on the both the east and west sides of the lake. Areas to look out for: are large heaves and pressure cracks on the east side from Old Highline Poles to Carlson’s Rustic Ridge, Buckhorn Bridge area just south of the bridge where the Yellow flows in, and on the west side where the Big and Little Yellow flow in. 

Later on in winter when Castle Rock and Petenwell Flowage are slow, many go down and fish Lake Redstone for crappies. Most people like to fish the mouth of Section 11 east out to the mouth of the main lake. These crappies can be targeted both day and night. Guys are catching these using tungsten jigs tipped with J and S plastics and also using tip-downs with rosie reds or small crappie minnows. Areas to look out for: stay away from the dam area on the far east end of the lake, far north end near North End Bar or farthest west end in Section 11.

Jesse Quale

West Central Wisconsin

Ice fishing is now under way in the Chippewa Valley! Panfish seekers have many options to where they can go catch a meal. 

  One of the more popular destinations in the area is the Chain of Lakes in Chetek, WI.  Look shallow early season using jigs tipped with grubs. If one spot isn't producing, move around until you find a hot hole. Tip- ups with shiners fished near the shorelines will produce northerns and some nice largemouth.

  Lake Menomin in Menomonie,WI, is also a great early ice lake.  Being in a college town, it makes it a very popular destination for young ice anglers.  Since it is not as large as the Chetek Chain, early ice parking can be a problem, especially on weekends.  Find the brush piles and stay on them for bluegills and crappies.  There are also some nice perch and walleyes to be had in the deeper water along with the occasional white bass.  Try using tip-downs with fat head minnows.  Northern pike are plentiful, so you can have a lot of fun with the tip-ups on this lake.

  Those searching for walleye should look to lakes in the Chippewa River system such as Lake Wissota near Chippewa Falls, WI.  Jigs and spoons tipped with minnows, ripped and dropped will produce walleye.  A good flasher unit is not completely necessary, but it definitely helps.  Scatter tip-ups or tip-downs rigged with minnows along humps and drop offs to up your odds.  You never know, you may even run into some of those big slab crappies inhabiting the waters of Lake Wissota!

Chris Powell

Chippewa Valley Guide Service

(715)577-9771 email: Wissotafish@gmail.com 

Northeast Wisconsin

     This early cold snap has created an ice covering on smaller and wind-protected lakes. Here are a few of the lakes with easy access that draw the early attention of ice anglers.

   White Potato Lake in Oconto County is a shallow lake of about 1000 acres and it ices over early. The majority of the lake is a mixture of cabbage weeds, muck and sand. Anglers want to drill plenty of holes to find these weed edges. Once you find the edges, fish with tip-ups and fatheads. While there is no shortage of smaller fish, if you move around you can get in to some nice perch in the 9- 12 in. range. The lake boasts a nice population of walleye and northerns. The key to fishing here is to get your holes drilled right away and to avoid excess noise because you will be fishing in 3-5 feet of water.

   Lake Noquebay, the largest lake in Marinette County, is famous for its large bluegills. These hand-size fish are caught by finding holes in the thick patches of cabbage weeds. Plenty of hole- hopping is recommended to find the fish. Wax worms or mousies fished on a small Tungsten jig is the ticket to fool these panfish.

   The Peshtigo River also contains four flowages that have plenty of back bays that ice up early: Caldron, High Falls, Johnson and Sandstone. Northern, walleye and crappie are the main targeted fish during the winter months.

   As soon as solid ice forms, the Bay of Green Bay holds plenty of opportunities for fisherman. Walleye can be caught along rocky shorelines along the east shore and in De Pere below the dam. The perch and whitefish continue to steal the show as large numbers of these fish can be caught from 4-45 feet of water. Use your electronics to find structure or changes in bottom composition. 

Scott Allen

Green Bay Ice Fishing

(920)660-2007

Shawano Lake

Fishing Shawano Lake first starts in the small bays and as the ice thickens, spreads to the entire lake. Early ice is best for panfish and northerns with occasional bass being taken. Target depths of water are 3 to 7 feet for the panfish using small minnows, wax worms, and spikes. The northern action is also in 3-7 feet using tip-ups with large golden shiners fished above the weeds. As the winter progresses, the fishing moves to deeper areas of the lake.

Bay of Green Bay

The Bay of Green Bay is a large body of water known for its excellent fishing. As ice develops, fishing for walleyes, perch, and whitefish are the target species. Walleyes and perch are consistently caught in 3-12 feet of water with early ice; White fish being taken in 15 feet of water. As the ice thickens and becomes safer, anglers venture out to deeper depths in pursuit of whitefish. Walleyes are still targeted in 12-15 feet of water. The Bay of Green Bay is a very dangerous body of water. Please use extreme caution when venturing out; if at all in doubt or have questions, please contact people who are familiar with the Bay.

If you have any questions on these bodies of water, please feel free to contact Captain Jim of Bills and Gills Guide Service at (920)680-7660.