Chequamegon Bay & Hayward, Wisconsin Ice Fishing Report 3-17-14

Goliath (600 x 385)I had to make a break for it last week and landed in the Florida Keys.  The ladies in my life decided they’d had enough winter, and I have to admit that I didn’t argue!  A little warm air and sun sure felt good, and the fishing was fantastic!  Goliath grouper and tarpon were our targets, and once again my loyal guides Jim Willcox and Vic Gaspeny out of Bud N Mary’s Marina didn’t disappoint!  I’ll write more about this trip at a later date.  As for now…  Back to business!  While I was soaking up rays in Florida, Josh was hard at work.  The results from his trips over the past week were quite impressive, although I wasn’t surprised.  I think you’ll be impressed as well!

IMG_1020 (600 x 450)On Friday, 3-7-14, Wally, Chris, Les, and Chad joined Josh for a full day of near shore mixed bag fishing.  They landed splake up to 17″, whitefish up to 17″, and a 16″ laker in 15′ to 50′ of water.  Josh reported that quite a few fish were hooked and lost as well.  Vibratos and Kastmasters were once again the hot baits for a cool group of dudes!  Nice mess of fish fellas!IMG_1018 (600 x 450)





IMG_1021 (600 x 450)On 3-8-14, Aron Autio from Janesville, WI brought his mother Marilyn up for a day on the ice.  They spent a full day fishing for lake trout in the Apostle Islands and had numerous hookups throughout the day while landing 3 of those fish ranging up to 17″.  These are tough fish, and that’s what makes them so special.  They don’t come easy!  All of their action was in 20′ to 240′ of water on Vibratos.  Hey, it doesn’t always have to be father and son trips.  Mother and son works just as well.  I love it!

Sunday, 3-9-14 was a couples day with Mike Keadle From Sturgeon Bay, WI bringing along Molly for a half day trip.  Mike was looking for a change of scenery, and they fished near shore in Chequamegon Bay for a mixed bag that included lakers up to 16″ and an 18″ burbot.  Burbot…  Now that’s a face only a mother could love!  Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, so I’ll let you be the judge!  Tip-ups with shiners and Kastmaster spoons were the tools of choice for the day, and all fish were caught in 30′ to 50′ of water.  IMG_1023 (600 x 450)

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On Monday Josh and Acorn were joined by their friend Kris for a big laker hunt in the islands.  On a trip like this, it only takes one bite to make your day.  Quite a day it was!  Three big fish hit the ice including a pair of 34 inchers along with a 39″ brute landed by Acorn.  Acorn has returned!  A few fish were hooked and lost also as the crew fished in 90′ to 150′ of water with Beetles and spoons tipped with herring.  Excellent work men!

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IMG_1051 (600 x 450)Wednesday brought another big laker hunt for Josh and Acorn.  This time they were joined by their friend Rich.  Rich also got a taste of big laker fishing as they landed 34″, 35″, and 37″ whoppers.  All were great fish that put up one heck of a battle coming up from deep water.  Again, 90′ to 150′ were the targeted depths with Beetles and spoons tipped with herring.  Josh has definitely dialed in on the big fish (30 plus inchers).  It’s not a numbers game, but the results of quality fish are certainly worth it!

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Friday was a family affair.  Josh and Acorn guided Mark and Vanessa Wilhelm from Iola, WI along with their two children Lucas and Stephanie.  The late ice coho run hasn’t exactly begun yet, but there was more than enough action to keep the kiddos busy.  They caught around 40 smelt and lost a burbot at the hole in a half day on the ice.  It might have been a good thing that the burbot got loose.  Who was going to hold it for the picture?  They fished a 30′ flat in Chequamegon Bay with small Kastmasters tipped with crappie minnow heads.  A big thanks goes to Mark for taking the time to spend with his family on the ice.  Let’s keep those kids fishing!

IMG_1044 (600 x 450)At the risk of being a broken record…  Ice conditions continue to be tough.  Still plenty of ice, but still plenty of  slush as well with conditions changing daily.  On days with overcast skies and cooler temps the surface of the ice firms up, but don’t be fooled.  Josh had to help a guy in a side by side ATV out of the slush last week after he thought he could make it out.  On warmer days, the surface softens up with slush becoming more of an obstacle.  Snowmobiles are definitely the only vehicles we recommend on the ice right now throughout Chequamegon Bay and around the Apostle Islands as well.  Yes, there’s still plenty of ice in most areas, but travel is rough and hard on equipment as well.  Ice around the islands and in the bay will continue to get more unpredictable over the next few weeks with ice around the islands being the first to go.  Use extreme caution if venturing out.  Now is definitely not the time to be exploring new turf!  As for the inland lakes…  It’s the same old story.  Lot’s of snow and slush on most.  Any type of vehicle isn’t a good option on most lakes right now, and most travel done by foot.  You’ll definitely have to work at it if you want to get out there, and be ready to get your boots wet.  By the way, ice shacks need to be off the ice.  March 15th was the last date they were allowed.  If you haven’t got yours off, contact a local DNR office immediately with the plan for removal.  More snow and cooler temps are on the way, so our ice conditions can still change.  Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you posted.  More snow and cooler temps on the way…  I wonder if the fish are still biting in the Keys???  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


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