The recent stretch of subzero temperatures made an impact on area waters, and we are now seeing a lot of vehicle travel on select lakes throughout the Northland. Lakes such as Fish Lake have plowed roads to certain areas, and for a $5 pass from a resort you can utilize the easy access.
Our team is using snow machines and ATVs for travel. It is safer and easier to reach areas that have been untouched. Checking ice should still be a regular routine. It’s important to check your own ice; don’t rely on old tracks from someone else, because ice conditions can change rapidly. With the mild temperatures late last week, it is very important to be alert on the ice, especially in the St. Louis River estuary and on Lake Superior.
Lake Superior is still growing ice, and water temps are anywhere from 32 to 36 degrees depending on the area surveyed. We have very minimal ice on areas like McQuade, but some anglers have started doing some ice angling. A better bet may be the breakwall in Two Harbors. We are still traveling to the Chequamegon Bay area. We have been there diligently, checking ice and fishing. Ashland areas are good to go, as well as Washburn and select Bayfield and Red Cliff areas.
Some anglers are using snowmobiles for travel, but they are not needed to access fishable waters on Chequamegon Bay. As ice continues to form north along the shore and into the Apostle Islands, we will cautiously explore it. Last weekend in the cold, we fished in the Ashland area on 12 inches of ice in 24 feet of water. Fishing was good, as we were able to manage splake, whitefish, smelt, salmon and some brown trout. Most fish came on jig sticks with either a fathead or lake shiner minnow.
The St. Louis River is offering a hit-and-miss report. Some days are better than others, but the best fishing seems to be from 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Aggressive jigging with spoons or Raps and tipped with fathead minnow heads seems to be the best. However, we have caught fish using Chubby Darters and Psycho Shads as well. Dead sticks have been pretty slow, but we always utilize at least one bobber setup. We have caught pike, perch, eelpout and walleyes.
Inland lakes are continuing to put out panfish, pike, bass and the occasional walleye. Tip-ups or other means of set lines are the best tactics for predator fish. Bluegills and crappies continue to be caught on small jigs tipped with waxworms or soft plastics and by targeting waters of 10 to 20 feet. There are lots of great lakes that are off the radar to explore in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.