March has arrived. How did that happen!? A big blast of snow that hit northern Wisconsin last weekend definitely changed things things up in regard to travel and ice conditions on our lakes. Some areas received around 2′ of white stuff over the course of the week, and this is as much snow as I’ve seen around my house in several years. Warm temps this week are turning things into quite a mess, but it seems to be having a positive impact on the fishing. Even fish like a little warm weather and sunshine every now and then. If you’re willing to put in the extra effort it takes to get on the ice right now, you might just find yourself on one heck of a bite. Just a reminder that the inland game fish season in ends on March 4th, so this will be the last weekend you can target walleyes, pike, and bass until our opener in May. Aron Kastern, Josh Teigen, and Erik Thue checked in, and here’s what they had to say.
Aron Kastern says that travel on Chequamegon Bay has mostly been reduced to snowmobiles and tracked machines due to heavy snow and slush. There are a few plowed roads out to the lighthouse, but trucks venturing off the roads aren’t making it very far. Folks fishing around the lighthouse and in his sleeper shacks are doing well catching smelt, perch, and burbot with a few walleyes, and trout mixed in. Talk about a mixed bag! 8′ – 20′ weedbeds in front of second landing are producing perch, walleyes, and pike, but hole hopping is still necessary to stay on active fish. Aron suggest using the combo approach of jigging spoons and set lines rigged with a variety of golden shiners, lake shiners, and fatheads. The long Island area has still been producing whitefish and a few trout in 25′ – 70′ of water. Keep moving to locate fish and have a variety of spoons in different sizes and colors on the ready for moody fish. The Apostle Islands bite has really been on fire over the last week with big lakers coming from 125′ – 240′. A few over 20 lbs. even hit the ice this week. Those are dinosaurs! Beatles and big spoons tipped with fresh smelt and herring are all producing. Travel aournd the islands is completely limited to snowmobiles right now, and Aron thinks we still have a few good weeks left to get after some of these amazing fish. This is the first time in several years that we’ve had access to deep lake trout water through the ice. If you’re looking for a true Lake Surperior adventure, now is the time to take advantage of it. Even though ice conditions around the islands are as good as they’ve been in a long time, you should still hire a guide if you’re new to the area or inexperienced on that water. Lake Superior is not a forgiving place. Awesome stuff Aron. Look at the belly on that pike!
Josh Teigen has been spending all of his time on Chequamegon Bay and around the Apostle Islands lately, and he says that the near shore trout bite is definitely picking up. He’s been on a good run of splake, browns, and whitefish in 15′ – 35′ of water using spoons, Hyper Rattles, and tip-ups with shiners. Try to find rocky points that will hold fish or travel corridors like steep ledges and pinch points. He’s also been bumping into some nice lakers in shallow water mixed in with the smaller fish. A big laker on medium weight tackle in shallow water will definitely take you for a ride. Like Aron, Josh says that travel is limited to snowmobiles or even snowshoes if you’re looking to get in a little exercise. Why not? Slush is definitely going to be an issue with warming temps though, so you’ll have to be prepared to deal with it. As the weather continues to warm, the near shore bite Josh is on should continue to improve, and it’s already been good. I’d like to have seen you battle those big lakers Josh. Those are drag scramers for sure!
Erik Thue spent some time on the ice in the Hayward area after the big snows, and he says things have definitely changed. Travel is tough, and you might even need an auger extension in some areeas. Snowmobiles or snowshoes are your only options for travel unless you’re able to find a plowed road, but those are far and few between. There’s still a good panfish bite going on, and Erik found active crappies and gills in 16′ – 20′ of water over or near weed beds. Tungsten jigs are the best for light bite days, and #3 Rippin Raps will take care of any active hard hitters. Erik recommends tipping the front hook on your Rippin Rap with waxies or spikes to seal the deal on curious fish. Good tip! Erik also reminded me that the winter catch and release season for trout is open, and anglers looking to hit our area rivers have an opportunity to get the waders out right now. The warmer weather we’ve been having should get fish on the feed, and Erik says #14 and #16 bead headed nymphs like haresears, brassies, and stone flies are all good choices along with a dropper nymph, red lace larva or scud. Use indicators to drift through deep holes, and you should find some cooperative browns and brookies. Those of you getting the open water itch might want to jump on this, but make sure you put on the long underwear! Keep it coming Erik. Nice work!
The spring thaw is on the way, but we’ve got plenty of ice fishing ahead of us before it’s time to get the boats out. Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted. Have a great weekend!