As I begin the first report of 2017 let me wish everyone a Happy New Year.
Our 2017 ice fishing season has started off just like many fireworks, with a boom. Walleye fishing is off the grid followed by great crappie, perch, bluegill, and pike fishing. Ice conditions across central Wisconsin are getting better by the day. Most area lakes have anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of good solid ice right now with little to no snow covering it. The 2016 – 2017 late archery season will come to a close this upcoming weekend, so we will have to wait for another 8 long months before we can chase our favorite game species in Wisconsin.
With the recent cold snap a lot of our fishing has been confined to our heated Otter Ice Shacks. Unlike many days when we do a lot of hole-hopping we have been huddled up with our heaters going strong trying to stay warm while we pursue our quarry. One nice piece of equipment that I have that has been keeping me warm is my heated vest by Flambeau Outdoors. www.flambeauoutdoors.com Just charge the battery overnight and it’s ready for the next day. It keeps me warm and comfortable all day long.
The walleye bite has been nothing short of phenomenal. Most of our action has been by jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads but we have been picking up a few walleyes on tip-ups as well. Even though action is better earlier and late in the day, this has been an all-day bite which is contrary to what we had been seeing earlier in the year.
The panfish bite remains very good despite the fact that we cannot do a lot of hole-hopping like we are accustomed to. Most of the action is in 10 to 14 feet of water associated with downed timber and submerged wood. We are finding that the panfish are holding tight to or right in the structure and getting them out isn’t as hard as you might think. We are setting our shacks right on top of the structure and just setting up shop. Despite the cold, with a little determination and some patience the fish will bite. We have been working tiny tungsten jigs tipped with either 1 waxie or 2 spikes left dangling on the hook. These offerings are just about too much for hungry panfish when dropped right in their face.
Big northern pike have been tearing up our sets this past week. We have been setting tip-ups baited up with very large golden shiners along break lines and weed edges in 6 to 12 feet of water. What we are finding is that by running our baits higher off the bottom we are seeing more and larger pike.Sometimes we are running our baits 6 to 10 feet off the bottom depending on the water depth.
Have a great week,
Hooksetters Guide Service
Get stories and tutorials on fishing delivered to your inbox weekly