Mild winter weather continues the first part of this week, with some chances for much-needed snowfall. The prognosticators forecast temperatures to nose dive toward the end of the week, with single-digit and sub-zero lows and highs in the teens.
“Ice thickness still averages about nine to ten inches,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but some area lakes have more. Snowmobile and ATV travel is reasonable, with caution, but leave your truck on shore.”
Bob at Hayward Bait says most area lakes are safe for foot travel and some ATV access, but anglers better know the lake and be very, very careful.
At Pastika’s, Al says ice depths range from 6-12 inches, though with thin ice in some areas. Conditions are generally great for walking and four-wheeler travel, but dangerous for vehicles, especially on the bigger lakes.
“Round, Grindstone, and Lac Courte Oreilles are producing walleyes in early morning and evening,” says guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations. “Fish deep weed edges with tip-ups and shiners or walleye suckers.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says fishing is good for perch (some 10-12 inchers) and good for pike by the break wall and oar dock.
“Ice depths are in the 9- to 10-inch range on most lakes,” says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt. “Some ATVs and snowmobiles are on the lakes, but most anglers are waiting for a solid 12 inches of ice before venturing out with their vehicles.”
Wisconsin’s late archery season closed January 8. In the past week, Hayward area registration stations (Shooting Star, Hillman’s Store, Hayward Bait) registered five antlerless deer and two bucks. For the entire late archery deer season, November 19 through January 8, the stations registered 33 antlerless deer and 20 bucks.
The Northland Area Builders Association (NABA) is hosting its Second Annual Family Ice Fishing Contest January 21 on Nelson Lake. The entry fee ($8 adults; $5 children) includes lunch. Donate non-perishable food items and receive $1 off the fee. The Grand Prize raffle offers a chance to win a 2012 Toyota Tacoma. Tickets ($1 each; six for $5) are available at People’s Bank, Revelle’s, Four Seasons, and Nelson Lake Landing. Winners must be present. For more information, call Hayward Bait (634-2921) or visit www.northlandareabuilders.com.
Area snowmobile trails continue to take hits from the mild winter temperatures and lack of snow.
The Lakewoods Resort report as of January 6 says the New Years Eve storm dropped more than eight inches of snow on the north woods and trails are open. You will want to avoid some areas and expect early season conditions, such as grass, twigs, and rocks on the trails. Grooming will begin again when snowfall and conditions warrant it. The Lake Namakagon stick trail is in place, with good ice conditions averaging 8-10 inches. Use caution around bridges and stream inlet/outlet areas – there are still open water areas.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, especially on the big, clear lakes. Depths vary from 4-20 feet and deeper, depending on the lake and time of day. Look for bars, points, weeds, weed edges, and structure. Use tip-ups with walleye suckers or shiners, or jig fatheads, crappie minnows, spoons, and other artificials. The best action is in early morning and late afternoon into after dark.
Northern pike action is fair to very good, particularly for smaller fish. Work the entire water column near weeds and weed edges in 6-20 feet of water with northern suckers and shiners under tip-ups.
Crappie fishing is fair and has not yet hit its stride. Depths can vary from 8-30 feet, depending on the lake, and fish can be near weeds and structure or suspending over deeper water. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits. For bigger crappies, try a #2 Jigging Rap.
Bluegill action is very good near weeds and structure in 6-15 feet of water, depending on the lake. Waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits are all producing good catches of ‘gills.
Some anglers are reporting good success for perch. Fish the transition areas (hard to soft bottom – or vice versa) in deeper water (20-30 feet) or near cribs. Waxies and plastics are effective baits, but try fatheads and crappie minnows to avoid the bait robbers and catch bigger fish.