We are moving toward the American Birkebeiner February 23-26 and all attention is on the weather. Forecasts include moderate temperatures and good chances for snow early in the week, snow ‘possible’ in the remaining days, and then (a bit late!) cold temperatures for this coming weekend.
“As we near the end of February, we expect changes in angling and targeted species,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Once game fish season ends March 4, from then on it is all about panfish – and the best fishing lies ahead.”
Mark at Hayward Bait says perch action is good in 6-25 feet, but they will start moving toward shallower water.
“Perch are taking bigger offerings than you might think. Try two-inch baits such as Northland’s Fish Fry Minnow, Swedish Pimples, and other jigging spoons and baits. The best fishing is during the early morning and late afternoon hours. Use light line, light tackle, and let the rod do the work.”
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says jigging a Jigging Rap or jig/fathead is the most productive walleye presentation, with dusk or dawn the best time. For panfish, use your electronics to see if fish are suspended or tight to bottom and then use jigs and plastics.
Carolyn at Anglers All on Chequamegon Bay in Ashland says they are seeing good numbers of browns, coho, perch, northern, walleye, whitefish, herring, sturgeon, and eelpout. Ice is up to 14 inches thick, but with bad spots – use caution! Toward the Sioux and Onion rivers, there is slab ice that keeps moving.
“Conditions are generally good,” says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt. “Most lakes are holding 14-17 inches of ice, with a three- to four-inch layer of heavy, grainy snow. Travel conditions are fair, but four-wheel-drive is necessary when getting off the packed trails.”
Following the 2012 Class A bear harvest permit drawing, the DNR on February 14 mailed notices to successful applicants. You can check the drawing or your preference point status online, through the Call Center (1-888-936-7463), or at a DNR service center. Drawing winners may purchase their licenses beginning March 7.
The February 17 Lakewoods Resort report says marginal conditions prevail, with some areas considered un-rideable. You can still ride 100 miles, but out/back routes are limited to remote locations. The lake stick trail is in good condition, with more than 16 inches of smooth ice.
The February 14 Hayward Power Sports trail report says Sawyer County trails are in poor condition and those in open areas have a frozen base with dirt visible in spots. Trails in the woods are in slightly better condition, but still mostly just a frozen base. Lakes are best and remain in fair condition.
The February 14 Cable area snowmobile trails report says trail conditions are poor due to heavy traffic and warm temperatures. Some protected trails in the woods have snow cover and lake trails are safe for travel.
According to the February 18 American Birkebeiner report, the Birkie trail is in very good condition with three to six inches of solid base and is race ready except for the start area. They will put down snow on Main Street Wednesday night.
Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education (SCOPE) banquet Friday March 23. Tickets start at $50; sponsorship packages available. Call (715) 634-2027.
Walleye fishing is fair to slow. Low light early morning and late afternoon into dark hours are prime times. The best locations are mid-lake humps, breaklines, and structure in depths from four feet to deep water. Jigging with fatheads or minnow heads and spoons is the most productive presentation, though walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups still produce some catches.
Northern pike fishing continues to be good for most anglers. Fish the weeds with northern suckers and shiners under tip-ups. Some smaller, weedy lakes are experiencing low oxygen levels, so look for pike at depths where there is higher oxygen content.
Crappie action is consistently good once you locate the fish – and expect to move around to do so. Electronics are invaluable not only to find the fish, but to learn where they are in the water column ... and we are getting to the time of year they can be anywhere in it. For now, look for them suspending in deeper water and tight to or a few feet off the bottom. Crappie minnows, rosy reds, and waxies are all catching fish, but plastics and Gulp! baits produce the most catches.
Bluegill anglers willing to move around on the lakes – or from lake to lake – to search for active ‘gills report decent success once they find them. Look for weeds and structure in depths out to 20 feet, and as with crappies, use your locator to pinpoint their location in the water column. Best baits include waxies, spikes, and plastics on plain hooks, teardrops, and small jigs. Go small and light to improve success.
Perch fishing is fair to good on mudflats, weed beds, cribs, and transition areas. Depths vary from lake to lake, but most successful anglers are targeting deeper water on the deep, clear lakes. Baits of choice include fatheads, small walleye suckers, crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and jigging spoons.