Ice fishing has come to an early close here in Northern Wisconsin. Warm winds and several inches of rain in the forecast will render virtually all the ice in the area unsafe by mid-week, if not sooner. Some lakes are already completely ice-free. Considering that there is almost 6 weeks left until the official Wisconsin game fish season opener, what is a fisherman to do in the meantime? Here are 4 great ideas for you!
1. Fish Lake Superior and its tributaries. Lake Superior itself has very liberal seasons on most game fish and launches and accesses are opening up as we speak. Many boats have already been harvesting mixed bag catches of coho salmon, lake trout, brown trout and splake trolling flatlined stickbaits on boards. The cold surface temperatures mean that these fish will be using the upper part of the water column consistently for quite some time. Wisconsin Lake Superior tributaries with special trout regulations also open this coming weekend. This annual event is very popular, (bordering on religious) among fly fishermen and spin fishermen alike so be sure to hit one of the south shore rivers for some great steelhead and brown trout action.
2. Bass fishing inland lakes. Wisconsin now has a catch-and-release bass season that continues through march and April so don’t be afraid to launch the boat as soon as the ice is off and go have some fun! Slow finesse presentations such as drop-shots and ned rigs slowly worked along deep weeds and structure are key, at least until the water hits the upper 40s.
3. Inland trout streams. Wisconsin also has an inland trout catch-and-release season stretching through the first week of may. This is a great time to go out and have a ton of fun on your local creeks and rivers. Using lures with single hooks is a good idea if possible to make unhooking and releasing these delicate fish less harmful. I like to use small jigs and plastics on spinning gear and small nymphs, such as Princes and Hare’s Ears on fly gear.
4. River walleyes. Many of Wisconsin’s larger river systems have no closed season on walleyes and sauger, which means you may fish for them during the entire spawning run, which is happening right now. Rivers like the Mississippi, Fox, Wolf Menominee and Wisconsin all have spectacular walleye and sauger runs. There are almost as many ways to target these fish as there are fishermen, but one of the most reliable is pitching soft plastic paddle-tail swimbaits on 1/4 to 1oz jig heads and slowly hopping them along in the current.
There are plenty of options this time of year so go out, get hooked up, and take advantage of the diversity that Wisconsin waters have to offer!
Caleb Wistad – Hookedupwi