The weekend was cold (for this winter), but forecast say we return to milder, mid-30s highs this week. On to more important things!
“We saw a general slow-down in ice fishing last week,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “both in the fish bite and participation. Most lakes have good ice, but there are always exceptions, and lakes with current and/or aeration have some very thin ice.”
Al at Pastika’s says more anglers are connecting with crappies and using plastics is a very good way to do it.
“Sometimes plastics work better than anything else, and right now plastics are excellent for crappies. Rig the bait so it hangs horizontally, and vary your jigging from very aggressive to slight, teasing twitches.”
At Hayward Bait, Dennis reminds anglers about the Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin Family Fishing event is this Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Pick up your button now so you are ready to hit the ice first thing Saturday morning.
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says panfish fishing remains good on the Chippewa Flowage. Crappies and bluegills are in deep water – use your electronics to find fish – and hitting crappie minnows, waxies, and jigs/plastics.
Carolyn at Anglers All on Chequamegon Bay in Ashland says perch and walleye fishing is good off Second Landing and shipping channel anglers report mixed bags of coho, northern, walleyes, whitefish, browns, bass, lawyers, perch, smelt, and sturgeon.
“Even with the milder weather, ice thickness remains at 14-16 inches on most lakes,” says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt. “Scattered areas have 5-6 inches of heavy, grainy snow with slush underneath, making for difficult travel requiring four-wheel-drive.
The DNR recently held the drawing for spring turkey permits, issuing 137,598 of them. Successful applicants should receive postcard notification this month. You can check your status online or by phoning the Call Center (1-888-936-7463). Leftover permits go on sale over-the-counter starting March 19. The youth turkey hunt is April 7-8.
This is fundraising banquet season in Hayward and every group welcomes new members. Where else can you spend an evening with so many people who share similar interests? Below is a list of banquet dates with links and contact numbers for more information.
Namekagon River Valley-Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) banquet February 18. Dinner/membership tickets start at $65 and include a free Buck knife (at event). Couple, youth, and sponsor packages available. Call (715) 634-1742.
Namekagon River Gobblers-National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) banquet Friday March 2. Dinner/membership combination tickets start at $60. Send check by Feb. 17. Couple, youth, and sponsor packages available. Call (715) 580-0792; 699-3401; or 492-8443.
Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education (SCOPE) banquet Friday March 23. Tickets start at $50; sponsorship packages available. Call (715) 634-2027.
Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin Family Fishing Event is this Saturday (Feb. 18) from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., on Lac Courte Oreilles, with thousands of dollars in fishing and raffle prizes – and a chance to win a 2012 Toyota 4x4 truck from Kari Toyota. All winners must be present to claim prizes. Event buttons cost $5 for adults, $1 for youth 13-17 years of age, and youth 12 and younger receive free entry thanks to Slumberland. Purchase buttons and tickets at Hayward Bait, Pastika’s, Hayward Power Sports, Outdoor Creations, AAA Sports (Spooner), Sportsman’s Headquarters (Minong), and Stone Lake Bait. For more information, call Hayward Bait (715) 634-2921.
As of February 10, Hayward Power Sports trail report says trail conditions are fair, but the few inches of snow received late last week will substantially help conditions. Lakewoods Resort's trail report says four inches of snow Thursday night improved many marginal trails. Lake ice is in good, with more than 16 inches of smooth ice and little snow cover.
Walleye action has slowed, though anglers are still catching fish – and some nice ones at that – and late afternoon into after dark offer you the best odds for success. Fish are scattered from 7-35 feet, depending on the lake, and target weeds, weed edges, mid-lake bars and bar edges, and breaklines. Jigging fatheads, jigging Raps, and spoons continues to be the most productive presentation, though anglers are also catching fish on walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups.
Northern pike continue to offer the best and most consistent ice fishing action. Fish weeds and weed edges in depths from 4-20 feet with shiners and northern suckers under tip-ups. That is about as easy as it gets for ice fishing.
Crappie action is fair to good, depending on the lake ... and the angler. Use your locator/flasher and be prepared to move around to find active fish. Crappies are in deeper water, tight to the bottom or suspending somewhere (usually in the lower part) of the water column, but check all of it. Top baits include crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits. Plastics often outshine all other baits. To increase success, downsize to lighter equipment and line.
Bluegills are scattered and fishing slowed a bit, but they are still providing good action. Work in and around weeds in 6-15 feet of water with waxies, mousies, spikes, and plastics on plain hooks, small jigs, and teardrops. Go deeper with small minnows for larger ‘gills.
Perch action is fair to good. Fish mud flats, near weed beds, cribs, and hard/soft transition areas in depths to 30 feet, depending on the lake. Plan to move until you find fish, and then use fatheads, small minnows, waxies, and plastics on plain hooks or small jigs.