Living in the Northland, one needs to have what it takes to handle these brutal temps — uff da. Before this cold system arrived, we were having some fair weather and successful fish outings. Now fish seem to have a case of “lockjaw.” That’s the way it goes sometimes.
The best time to get out fishing, in my opinion, is right before a front sets in. Fish tend to bite right before a change in weather happens. Since we were delivered this frigid weather for Christmas, fishing has slowed down. Angler pressure also has slowed down, but a few die-hards are still getting after it. I want to remind anglers of the importance of taking care of, and not harming, “release fish” when dealing with extreme wind chill. It’s best to keep fish wet and not expose them to the elements, otherwise their eyes and gills can freeze up in no time. The best practice is to harbor a fish in the comfort of an warm ice shack.
Lake Superior fishing is gaining some traction for ice fishing over on the Wisconsin side. Anglers are starting to walk out of areas near Ashland and are having some mixed success. Utilizing general walleye gear and tactics is taking some whitefish, brown trout, perch and walleye. Lake Superior is the most dangerous ice we deal with, so always use extreme caution and don’t chance anything.
The St. Louis River is seeing plenty of angling pressure, but not a ton of success, especially since the cold front set in. Prior to Christmas, jigging spoons, ripping Shads and Jigging Raps were all working during the window of opportunity for walleyes and some perch. Midsections of the river are seeing some pan-fishing in back bays, but not a lot to report. This extreme cold will help with ice conditions, but caution should still be taken.
Inland lakes are also following suit with the slow fishing. Panfish are showing up on our electronics, but not wanting to bite. It’s important to downsize presentation during these conditions. Tiny tungsten jigs tipped with a wax worm will take a few fish. Angling pressure is low, so there is a good chance that you will have a lot of areas to yourself if you head out (brace yourself). Tip-ups with shiners or suckers are still turning a few nice northern pike, bass and the occasional walleye. Don’t forget the thermal hole covers for your tip-ups to help keep the hole from freezing.
Also, don’t forget plenty of fuel for heaters, handwarmers, cold-weather gear and warm boots.