Feb 27, 2017
Judging from the bite we had this summer I look for a very good crappie and bluegill bite on most of the area lakes and good walleye bites on the rivers and lakes in the northern part of our area.
With the reduced bag limit of 10 per species of panfish on Solberg, Butternut and the Phillips Chain reducing the spring and summer harvest, we are hitting this ice fishing season with a very healthy panfish and crappie population with some nice sized year classes. I like to start looking for the bluegills during early ice around cribs or other sunken structure in 8 to 12 feet of water. As the winter progresses and ice thickens, look for the bluegill to move out a little deeper in 10 to 18 feet of water and over the mud flats where they should remain until ice out. Fishing for bluegill is pretty simple, a flasher, an ultralight rod, spooled with light line and a small jig, should get you going. Some days I will do better on spikes, and some days on waxies. Plastics are also a good option. The crappie are already suspended in the basin areas of the lakes and will remain there as well until ice out. Deadsticks, baited with small crappie minnows or using your electronics and small plastics work great for area crappie.
Most of our area lakes have an ok walleye population right now but they tend to run on the small size of the eating range. On the shallower lakes, right in the Phillips Area and the Flambeau River, most walleye fishermen rely on tip ups baited with medium golden shiners. On the deeper lakes like Long and Butternut there is a good jig bite. Try jigs like Rapalas, Buck Shot Spoons and Swedish pimples tipped with plastics or half of a fathead minnow around cribs and shoreline breaks.
Right now, the pike population seems to be at an all-time low on the Phillips Chain and Cranberry but there are plenty of other smaller lakes in the area that have been putting out some nice numbers of fish. Tip-ups set with a large golden shiner just under the ice are a local favorite to catch these feisty fighters.
Lake Gogebic is a winter wonderland with all kinds of activities to do; skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing, just to name a few. The Timbers Resort focuses mainly on snowmobiling and ice fishing during this time.
Lake Gogebic is the largest lake in the U.P., stretching nearly 18 miles long and 3 miles wide, at its widest point. It is approximately 14,000 acres. We average over 200” of snow annually. That said, you really need to be prepared when you come to Lake Gogebic for ice fishing. What I mean by that is, the best way to get around on the lake is with a long track snowmobile and a portable ice shelter, always being mobile and searching. Speaking from experience, I have to say that Lake Gogebic is one of the most brutal lakes to be on during the winter months. That is because of all the snow that we get up here. The snow creates a lot of slush pockets on the lake. The lake is constantly changing and is why a long track snowmobile is the travel vehicle of choice. Four-wheelers may work in the beginning of the season some years, but as winter starts to settle in, chances are you won’t be able to use a 4-wheeler after the first couple weeks of the ice fishing season. I had a side by side with tracks that could float over 10 feet of snow just fine but when you get out Lake Gogebic and run into the slush, the tracks tend to get packed with all that slush, weighting down the vehicle and then the fun stops. So the moral of the story is, “Be prepared.”
Now that you have tips on being prepared, Lake Gogebic is an awesome lake to ice fish. The information that I have mentioned above just makes ice fishing on Lake Gogebic interesting. For questions on ice fishing, please feel free to contact us at The Timbers Resort on Lake Gogebic.
Open water walleye fishing this past season was fantastic. Perch fishing was very good too. My prediction for this winter is it’s going to be a great ice fishing season.
Here is how I attack the ice season. I start out fishing on the north end of the lake for walleye in the weeds. Tip-up fishing is probably the most predominate technique for fishing Lake Gogebic walleye, using live bait, sucker minnows and fat heads in low light conditions (mornings and evenings). Jigging for walleye can also be very productive to call fish in.
As the season progresses, we start to venture out into the main part of the lake in search of jumbo perch in the deeper water. The best presentation for these jumbo perch is dead sticking with wigglers.
The Timbers Resort offers 11 different housekeeping cabins, all varying in size, located on the north end of Lake Gogebic. We also offer winter ice fishing guide service. There is a live bait and tackle store on site at The Timbers Resort.
Be safe while on the ice and we look forward to seeing you this winter. Give us a call at The Timbers Resort (906)575-3542 for snow and lake condition updates or to make a reservation, www.thetimbersresort.com.
Captain Tim Long, Eyes-Guy Guide Service
West Central Wisconsin
Chequamegon Waters (Miller Dam Flowage)
Miller Dam is one of my favorite lakes to ice fish. It's not too bad of a drive either, about an hour from the Eau Claire/ Chippewa Falls area. It is about the same if you are coming from the Wausau area.
Moon jigs, tipped with waxies, will take your share of bluegill. You may have to hole hop until you find them. To increase your odds for crappie, place out a couple of tip-downs tipped with crappie minnows.
I almost always bring at least one tip-up when fishing Miller Dam. Look for structure, such as islands, and points, and fish them in ten feet of water or less. Shiners fished about a foot under the ice will get more flags; usually a mix of largemouth bass and smaller northern pike. Be prepared to chase flags! I remember instances where we were catching a lot of nice bluegill, and running for flag after flag, only to catch one 15 to 20-inch pike all day. One might ask, why would you even bother with the tip ups then? The truth is, Miller Dam, at over 2300 acres, has some true trophy potential. Northern pike over 40 inches are caught out of here every winter. Now in my opinion, if you want a better chance at one of these hogs, fish these same islands and points, but use suckers on the bottom.
Chetek Chain of Lakes
Middle of winter can start to be a frustrating time of year. But one thing always seems to ring true, and that is you can often be successful on the Chetek Chain. As always, the low light periods are best for bluegill and crappie. Use purists, Lil Cecil's and moon jigs for the best success. I wouldn't fish any shallower than 10 feet this time of winter. Finding the groups of shacks is always a good indication of where the fish are, but do your homework, sometimes the better bite can be where nobody is at!
Scatter tip-ups baited with shiners or small suckers along the shorelines for a mix of walleye, northern pike and largemouth bass.
West Coast of Wisconsin
It took awhile but we finally have good ice on the whole lake. I’ve been having real good luck drilling holes off the rock jetty that penetrates out from the park in Stockholm. The walleye are real busy during first ice and the perch and panfish bite will be real consistent. Another real good place setup camp is straight out from Maiden Rock, closer to the Minnesota side of the lake. You don’t want to take your vehicle across, but it is plenty safe for 4 wheelers and snowmobiles. Just follow the path. The harbor in Pepin Marina is very active for fishing walleye. As always, a person will have good luck in the open water on each end of pool number four. You can put in just out of Hager City or down in Wabasha.
The water was real high this year when winter rolled in, so the fishing in the backwaters of the Chippewa is excellent. It is a pretty sure bet that you will see plenty of activity no matter which slough you choose for setting up. Huck’s Landing and the slough right across Hwy 35 have been great as well as any of the landings between Nelson and Wabasha. Buffalo Slough is another good place in the backwaters. The landing off of Fox Coulee Rd and Hwy 25 is always plowed so it is nice and convenient. If you’re looking for a little more adventure and some excellent exercise, snow shoe into the Tiffanies and hit some of the hidden ponds; it is truly worth the effort.
Spring St. Inn
East Central Wisconsin
Hard water fishing is upon us. It's time to get the ice auger tuned up, shack out of storage, rods restrung with fresh line and tip-ups ready.
Panfish will be biting in the bayous, sloughs and small lakes. Templeton, for one, should be producing perch, bluegill and crappie. Use small tungsten jigs tipped with spikes or wax worms. Flashers will help find fish in the water column and let you know which jigging presentation works best. Miller Bayou, Patridge Lake, White Lake, Lake Weyauwega and Colic Slough should be the same.
All of the above are also great spots for northern pike. Tip-ups are the weapon of choice. Medium, large and jumbo shiners work best for bait. Set tip-ups with sizes #8 to #4 treble hooks, red beads and a large split shot about 8 to 12 inches above the treble. Depending on the depth, set the bait 6 inches to 2 feet below the ice because northern always feed up.
Poygan walleye, white bass and crappie fishing should all be heating up with the cold weather. The key to fishing Lake Poygan is to keep moving until you find active fish. Just because you're marking them on your flasher doesn't necessarily mean you can get them to eat your bait. Try multiplying jigging presentations and baits. If the fish chase your bait up in the water column, they're active. If they don't chase or eat, keep moving. Fishing in the group is not always the best thing. Oftentimes, I try to stay on the outside of the group because of all the ice auger noise. People will spook the fish very easily in the shallow lake. Jigging Rapalas, slender spoons, Swedish Pimples and buckshot rattle spoons work best for on Lake Poygan. Start jigging without spikes or wax worms. Typically, it is best to start jigging 1 to 2 feet above bottom; this gives you a much better chance at attracting the active fish. If you start pounding the bottom with your bait right away, you may scare away timid fish. I normally start with an aggressive presentation of my bait. This will instantly let me know if there are active fish in the area. If you mark fish but can't get them to bite right away, slow down your presentation. This is when I put a spike or wax worm on my bait to add a little incentive. If they still don't bite move on to another spot. Now, when I say move, you don't have to go a mile away. I generally move 100 to 200 yards from my spot and make a circle around it if I have marked fish that won't eat.
Always remember to check the ice conditions before you head out. Your local bait shop should know the conditions. Remember to bring your ice picks and or floating ice suit. These will come in handy if you fall through thin ice. I also suggest the buddy system or, at the very least, let someone know where you're going. Tight lines and good luck.
Captain Patrick Morack, Moracktion Guide Service, (920) 216-9085, www.MoracktionGuideService.com
Those who know me, know I do not necessarily enjoy fishing out of a “hole in the ice,” so when it comes to tips on ice fishing the Bay for whitefish, I go to one of the best whitefish guides I know. Captain Bob Claus from Fin Fantastic Charters. Bob has been fishing these waters his whole life, and he has it dialed in. Here are some expert tips for catching whitefish on the Bay Bob put together for you.
If you’re heading out to Green Bay for whitefish, make sure you have the proper gear. Rod and line selection is key, especially if you are targeting them in deeper waters. You can certainly find whitefish in shallow water (20 feet or less) but by midwinter the better fishing is along deeper breaks and off deeper structure in 50+ feet of water. I recommend a 28 to 32-inch medium light or medium rod. Pair that with a no-stretch super line, like 6-pound test ice braid or a Berkley Fireline Micro ice. Tie on a fluorocarbon leader for the ultra-clear waters where the whitefish hide. This no-stretch line will allow you to detect the ultra-soft bites much easier and, in deep water, the hooksets will translate to the fish quicker, losing less fish during the battle.
Bob’s go-to baits include #3 size or #4 Rapala Jigging Raps, Swedish Pimples in various sizes, depending on the water depth, and Flash Champ spoons. Most days on the ice, these three baits will take the majority of the fish. Darker colors prevail as whitefish on Green Bay are almost always on the hunt for goby. Gold is by far the best color to have in your arsenal, followed by other choices. You can tip them with real wax worms, but in the last few years anglers have proven most days Berkley Gulp waxies are more effective. You can catch more fish per bait up and the scent is stronger. Most everyone uses “Sliders” with well over 60% of your bites coming just off the bottom. There are plenty of videos online these days that show the various techniques and ways to tie up sliders. Working the baits close to the bottom is key and try not to jig them “up” like you do with walleye or panfish. Most of the time, the whitefish will not chase a bait up off the bottom very far.
The biggest key in locating and catching Green Bay whitefish is to stay away from the crowds if at all possible. Look at your maps, pick some structure that has deep water close to it and set up away from others. Whitefish are by far the spookiest fish on the ice. Even in 80 FOW the sound of an ATV or auger nearby will drive the fish off. Find good structure and hunker down for a few hours.
Number one piece of advice … if you have never chased Green Bay whitefish before, hire a guide and ask questions. Guides like Bob will take the time to make sure you are getting the right tactics mastered.
Jeff Boutin is a member of the National Professional
Anglers Association, and the Sheboygan Walleye Club.
President of Tomorrows Anglers
Owner of Team Outdoors LLC
USCG licensed Charter Captain on the Bay of Green Bay.
Bay of Green Bay, East Shore
As the first bays begin to freeze over on the Bay of Green Bay, many anglers will search the shorelines in search of the popular whitefish. Anglers using a traditional whitefish rig with a spoon on the bottom and a slider hook tipped with a wax worm have enjoyed tremendous success as they pound the bottom to entice whitefish to come and investigate their offerings. The abundance of whitefish feed mostly on goby, which lay on the bottom, thus contacting the bottom with your jig of choice is a must. Anglers also find great success by using lures like jigging Rapala’s, painted to match the colors of goby, tipped with either wax worms or a minnow head.
The month of January offers a good opportunity to catch whitefish near shore, starting around Bay Shore County Park all the way to Sturgeon Bay. As winter progresses, the month of February offers anglers an opportunity to venture to deeper water where offshore reefs and deep water has made travel safe. From Henderson’s Point, near Little Sturgeon to Larson’s Reef off of Sand Bay, anglers have opportunities to explore a variety of depths to find their prize. On high traffic days, the best technique is to avoid the traffic and claim a quiet spot with active fish. Days with cloud cover provide good fishing in shallow waters. On bright sunny days, the active schools of whitefish may pursue the deepest parts of the Bay.
The Bay of Green Bay can be a challenging body of water to navigate safely if you are unfamiliar with the area. Look into hiring a guide for your first adventures to learn the ropes and make some new friends. This year all anglers must know of the ice breaking operations that will take place through the month of January. This will make pressure cracks open up with even light winds out of the southeast. Be safe, check current conditions, and know what the wind is going to do throughout the day.
Captain Adam Cochart, Bay Lake Charters LLC www.baylakecharters.com 920-594-0910
South Central Wisconsin
During this time of year, people will be fishing all over both Petenwell and Castle Rock Flowages. For Petenwell, many will be fishing along the main river channel in 18 to 20 plus feet of water. For those fishing walleye, they will spread tip-ups along the channel edge. Choice of bait is medium golden shiners and large fatheads 6 to 12 inches off the bottom. Another technique is to jig for walleye jumping around from hole to hole until successfully landing on a feeding school. Popular baits will range from rattle spoons, slender spoons, jigging raps and Rpm's, tipped with minnow heads or loaded up with colored spikes.
When targeting panfish, many concentrate on the backwaters and deep water, over wood, up and down the main river channel. Most anglers will use tip-downs for crappie with small fatheads or rosies a couple feet off the bottom. Another way to take these fish is by jigging with smaller slender spoons, tungsten jigs tipped with spikes, waxies and small plastics. With the lake being such a stained body of water, bright colors seem to work the best.
Those fishing Castle Rock, like Petenwell, will be stretched out all over the flowage. Most people fishing walleye will be deep along and in the main channel using tip-ups. Similar to Petenwell, baits of choice are medium golden shiners/fatheads 6 to 12 inches off the bottom. Some also like to target pike in deep water on Castle Rock. If fishing for pike, try to use suckers and large shiners 4 to 5 feet off the bottom. In backwaters, many will fish them just below the ice!
For those targeting panfish, fish backwaters and out over wood along the main channel. Small slender spoons, tungsten jigs tipped with plastics, spikes and waxies are a popular choice for baits. Another technique is to use tip-downs and slip-bobbers tipped with small fatheads or rosies.
For more up to date ice and fishing reports, check out the reports at lake-link.com, facebook.com/greenwaterwalleyesguideservice and while there, feel free to give us a like!
Madison Lakes/Yahara River
The Madison area lakes and the Yahara River hold plenty of panfish, which can be targeted throughout the ice season. Backwater areas of the Yahara River are first to freeze over and offer decent action throughout the season. Even though some of these areas are quite shallow, they can hold a variety of fish, including bluegill, crappie, pike and bass. When fishing the lakes, try locating weeds for bluegill and don’t hesitate to throw out a tip-up or two for roaming pike. Lake crappie can be found suspended in various areas, but spots near sharp breaks seem to hold fish consistently. If you found them in late fall, start there. If you’re unsure, start around 15 feet and systematically work your way deeper until crappie are found. It’s not uncommon to catch occasional bluegill and white/yellow bass in these areas as well. Perch can be found throughout the Madison lakes in water 20 feet or deeper. Pound the bottom with Northland Tackle tungsten ice jigs or the new Hyper-Glide by ACME Tackle. With a large area to cover, it is important to implement the use of flasher sonar and Aqua-Vu cameras to help locate these roaming schools.
Lake Koshkonong/Rock River
Panfish can be found near Bingham Point and in boat channels located around the lake. No secret tactics are needed, but tip-downs are a good choice if targeting crappie. Walleye roam the lake and can be randomly found anywhere, but most anglers will concentrate on the north/northwest part of the lake. Due to poor water clarity in the warmer months, walleye fishing is typically not very productive at night. However, the winter brings much clearer water and the walleye night bite comes to life. Pike can commonly be found in shallow bays. Areas with only 2 feet of water can produce large pike, especially late in the season. Look for nearby 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 to 12 feet. Jigging and tip-up fishing can produce river walleye, pike and panfish. Please remember, this area has current and ice conditions can change rapidly.
Clear Lake in Milton, WI offers some decent panfishing throughout the ice season. Being a small lake, it’s fairly easy to locate fish. Numerous weededges and a few holes will hold crappie and bluegill. Stay mobile, use electronics, 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.
Adam Walton, Pike Pole Guide Service