If you’re from the upper Midwest, you’ve most likely come to the same conclusion that I have. Winter is going to be here for awhile! Below freezing temps and snow continue to dominate the forecast without any real relief in sight. That’s great news for all fans of winter. For those of you who aren’t… “If you can’t beat them… Join them!”
On Friday, 3-21-14, Josh had a bang up day 0f near shore fishing around the Apostle Islands with Walter, John, Chad, and Ryan. In a half day of fishing, they iced 6 splake up to 17″, 6 browns up to 16″, and 3 lake trout up to 28″. How’s that for a 4 hr. trip? If spring ever decides to get here, this is the type of late ice action we can expect on a more consistent basis. Vibratos and Kastmasters tipped with minnow heads and tip-ups with shiners in 10′ to 30′ of water produced all of their fish on an action packed morning. Nice job fellas!
Unfortunately equipment breakdowns are a part of ice fishing, and Josh had a good dose of it on Sunday. All of his snowmobiles decided they weren’t going to run at the same time. Speaking from personal experience, that’s about as frustrating as it gets. He made the best of it though and spent the day with Wayne, Chuck, Mark, and Rock fishing areas they could walk to. The guys were incredibly gracious and understanding that some things are out of our control. With that kind of luck, you would think they deserved a fish or two. Well… The fish didn’t seem to care. Although plenty of fish were showing up on the electronics, they refused to cooperate. If you’ve fished long enough, you know that sometimes it’s just “one of those days”. A big thanks goes out to these guys for being great customers, and a big pat on the back goes out to Josh. I’m just hoping he got that one out of the way for both of us!
I’ve been itching to get after late ice panfish, but the horrendous travel conditions on our inland lakes hasn’t improved. So… My good friend Greg Miller from The Hunt With Greg and Jake and I decided we needed a change of scenery. Word had it that the ice fishing was excellent in Webster, SD and the lakes were easily accessible with little to no snow. Greg had taken a scouting mission out there earlier in the month and confirmed the rumors. That’s all I needed to here. My girls gave me the thumbs up, and Geralyn gave Greg a pass so away we went. I’ve hunted South Dakota with Greg in the past and have been looking for an excuse to get back ever since. On this trip I found out that the fishing is on par with their amazing whitetail hunting. We were able to drive on the lakes with our truck and found cooperative perch and bluegills as well as a few walleyes sprinkled in. The weather conditions were less than ideal with 30 mph winds along with cold temps which made it a difficult to fish efficiently, but it was well worth the struggle. Our gills ran up to 10″, perch up to 12″, and walleyes up to 16″. The gills were caught on tungsten jigs tipped with waxies and wigglers, and the perch hit small spoons tipped with a single minnow. It took us awhile to figure that one out. They were a bit stubborn. We didn’t target the walleyes, but they appreared to be mixed in with everything else. Our gills were caught in 5′ of water, and the perch were in 13′. Regardless of the brutal weather, it was great to be on the ice catching quality fish with a good friend and surrounded by a breathtaking landscape. I’ve had the extremely good fortune to hunt and fish in many locations around the country and have come to at least one conclusion. South Dakota has the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t been there, you need to put it on your list! Thanks to Greg for another great adventure and more memories. A guy shouldn’t be allowed to laugh that much!
Ice conditions haven’t changed much since last week’s report. There’s still lots of ice both inland and on Chequamegon Bay including the Apostle islands. Travel conditions on the bay have been changing on a daily basis. Colder nights tend to firm things up, making travel by snowmobile relatively smooth. Warmer days with the sun out will make it a little sticky with some slush pockets to deal with. Snowmobiles are still the only way to go unless traveling by foot. As for inland lakes. Stay on the snowmobile trails if that’s your mode of transportation. Otherwise it’s foot travel only. Wandering off the trails with your machine is not recommended anywhere. You’ll find lots of snow, and lots of slush. Not a good combination… Good Luck to everyone heading up the the annual Brule River steelhead opener this weekend. I know you’ll find lots of snow in the woods, but I hope you find lots of fish as well. Good luck as well to Bucky tomorrow night in the NCAA tournament. Go Badgers and On Wisconsin!!!