Ice conditions in central Wisconsin are about as perfect as one could want. Contrary to popular belief the rain last weekend did more good for ice fishing than bad. The rain knocked down the snow and slush on top of the ice allowing it to freeze solidly the following couple of days. We now have an average of 4 to 8 inches of good solid ice on most Central Wisconsin lakes, but that doesn’t mean go out and run all over the place without being cautious. There are still plenty of areas of unstable ice and that will remain throughout the winter months as a lot of our ice fishing is related to the Wisconsin River system which always has current running through it.
Walleye action has been very good with the best times being early in the morning and late in the day. We are also having good luck catching walleyes after dark. Our most consistent strategy is placing tip-ups along break-lines at several different depths to monitor the walleye transition as they move from deep water feeding haunts to shallow water feeding locations and back. Our tip-ups are baited up large golden shiners and set about 18 inches off the bottom for maximum efficiency.
The best action we have seen so far is by panfish, and this bite has been very good. We have been catching some really nice bluegills, crappies and perch. Most of this action has been taking place in 8 to 10 feet of water targeting downed timber on main lake flats. The key to success here has been drilling a lot of holes and then hole hopping to find active fish. Most of the bluegills and perch have been holding tight to the structure on the bottom of the lake but we have been catching a few of the crappies suspended up higher.
If you are looking for a really big fish we have been having very good luck targeting large northern pike. Now I am not talking about your 24 to 30 inch fish I am taking about BIG fish pushing that 40 inch mark and even better. As a matter of fact we had a client lose a GIANT pike this past week. I’m talking about a 40+ inch northern pike that we had to the hole several times, but after a 5 minute see-saw battle and several long runs it snapped off 20 pound line like it was thread! It was really disheartening not only for the client but us as well, but we know where he is and we will be back! We have been finding these nomadic roamers working large main lake basins in 12 to 18 feet of water. For the most part we are setting up on mid-lake points, humps, and break lines, basically anything that will force the fish to follow a certain route or make them change their course. For these big fish we are using the largest bait we can find like large Golden Shiners or 6 to 8 inch sucker minnows and setting them anywhere from 3 to 10 feet off the bottom.
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