Brrrrr, how about that cold, eh?
What a cold snap we were in the past couple weeks. It definitely helped with ice-building on local waters, but unfortunately also caused a huge case of “lockjaw” for a lot of fish. On some area lakes we are now driving small trucks and seeing more permanent ice-house communities. We are seeing plenty of ice with an average of 12 to 15 inches and building. We even have some ice sheets floating around on Lake Superior outside of Duluth/Superior. Still a long ways to go there, but maybe if we are lucky we will have fishable ice on the big lake in the Twin Ports like we did a few years ago.
Lake Superior is still very quiet, but we expect that to change as anglers are starting to venture out onto the ice in certain areas (not the Twin Ports). You need to use extreme caution when deciding to fish Lake Superior, so be very careful. Parts of Chequamegon Bay have ice and there are reports of decent fishing in the areas from Ashland toward Washburn. Brown trout, splake, whitefish and a few walleyes and perch are being caught. There should be rapid ice-making temps from here on out, so we are crossing our fingers that the ice continues to grow.
The St. Louis River has been on the slow side. Most people are still fishing the harbor area, but by venturing out to new areas and avoiding crowds, fishing can pay off. Try shallow (5-10 feet) water using jigging spoons and puppet minnows. It is important to downsize with extreme temps. Although walleyes have been most of the daily catch lately, we also are seeing a few pike, with occasional eelpout and perch mixed in as well. The back bays on the Wisconsin side have been slow, but some are finding a couple panfish if they put in the time and effort to reach fishable waters.
The inland lakes continue to be the best bet for catching fish. Pike and bass are coming off of tip-ups with small sucker or shiner minnows. We’re also seeing an occasional walleye near dark as well. Bluegills and crappies are still being caught using small tungsten jigs with soft plastics or wax worms, but are no doubt on the slower side. The best bet is to stay mobile and trust your electronics. Ice trolling pays dividends when the bite is tough, so make sure to bring plenty of fuel for the augers. We’re looking forward to a warm-up, both temperature-wise and fishing-wise.
The trout opener is upon us for Minnesota, and we look forward to hearing of successful outings from anglers starting Saturday. Also, Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend in Minnesota is this coming Saturday and Sunday. Anglers 16 and older do not need a license if they are accompanied by a child 15 or younger. Wisconsin residents will have a free fishing weekend coming up on Jan. 20-21.