The days are getting noticeably longer over here in Northern Wisconsin, and it looks like we’re in for a bit of a warm up this coming weekend. You’re not going to get any complaints here as we’ve been locked into sub zero and single digit temperatures for quite awhile now. The mid winter grind has been real over the last week with good results for those willing to put in the time and effort it takes to figure things out.
New ice around the Apostle Islands has given anglers some new water to explore and conditions on our inland lakes have stayed consistent. Josh Teigen and Aron Kastern spent most of their time on the big water while Erik Thue checked in with a Hayward Lakes report. Here’s what’s up.
Ice conditions inside Chequamegon Bay really haven’t changed much at all with up to 2′ of ice in most areas and smooth travel conditions from Ashland to Washburn and Houghton Point to Long Island. Even though we haven’t had a ton of snow, snowmobiles are your best bet to get from spot to spot.
ATV’s are still an option, but you’ll have to watch out for drifts, pressure cracks, etc. The bite is slow but steady as well with mixed bag catches of whitefish, trout, pike, perch, and walleyes as options. Aron Kastern spent most of his week poking around the Apostle Islands north of Red Cliff finding 8″ – 14″ of ice and good travel conditions with ATV’s and snowmobiles. New ice means new fish, and Aron’s crew cornered some good ones. All species of trout are being found in 10′ – 40′.
Set tip-ups and set lines with shiners in the shallower rocky areas while you hole hop with jigging spoons looking for active fish. As you get deeper, it becomes strictly a laker bite and trophy class fish will be in the trenches from 120′ – 250′ of water. The equipment changes for these fish, and you’ll need to be set up with heavy duty bobbing hoops or bait casters with stiff rods and heavy line.
Large bucktail jigs, spoons, and beetles tipped with fresh herring or smelt all produce. If heading out without a guide, Aron suggest staying around the inner islands. There are dangerous areas where new sheets of ice meet old ones, and hiring a guide is the way to go if you want to explore areas further out. Fun stuff Aron. I have a feeling a few giant lakers might be in trouble!
Josh Teigen spent most of his time in Chequamegon Bay last week and reported a fairly slow trout bite, but some quality fish are hitting the ice along with quite a few whitefish mixed in. He’s been setting up along breaks and points in 15′ – 35′ of water using jigging spoons and tip-ups with shiners.
It’s a quality over quantity thing right now for trout, and the trade off for steady action are some chances at really solid fish thoughout the day. With a good run of whitefish mixed in, you really can’t go wrong. I’ll take it! Josh was also able to get on some deeper water in the Apostle Islands and reported decent lake trout action in 170′ – 190′ of water using beetles and Kastmasters. Like Aron, Josh warns that extreme caution should be used if venturing toward deeper water around the islands. Conditions can change daily due to wind and currents. Check as you go, wear a floatation suit, and always have a throwable cushion along. There’s definitely no lack of water to cover and fish to catch right now around Chequamegon Bay and the islands. Excellent looking fish Josh. That’s one heck of a brown!
For our inland report on the Hayward area lakes in Northern Wisconsin, Erik Thue gave us an update from his time on the ice last week. Ice and travel conditions really haven’t changed much. Cold temps have continued to make ice, and minimal snow has made travel pretty smooth. Most lakes have well over 2′ of ice right now, with minimal areas of slush. Erik is finding gills and crappies in deep basins, using tungsten jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, or plastics depending on the day and the mood of the fish. He’s also had success locating aggressive fish with size 3 Rippin Raps while hole hopping in 25′ – 35′ of water. The walleye bite has been more inconsistent lately, and Erik suggests fishing the clear water lakes in low light conditions to take advantage of quick feeding windows. Spoons tipped with fat head minnows and tip-ups with a shiner or sucker all produce. Weed edges, weed flats, and rocky breaks in 15′ – 25′ are all good areas to set up on while covering various depths until you dial in on feeding schools. Stay on your toes and be ready to adjust quickly when the bite starts to take advantage of every opportunity you get. Nice work and cool pictures Erik. Thanks for keeping us dialed in!
There you have it. Lots of ice, lots of fish, and a warm up on the way for Northern Wisconsin and the Hayward area. From crappies to lake trout, there’s no wrong answer. Contact us if you’re looking to schedule a trip, and we’ll set you up from start to finish. Get out there, and have a blast!
Northern Wisconsin guide: Jeff Evans