As I write this from the comforts of a hotel room, my fellow Northlanders are preparing to dig out from another winter storm that that may end up leaving up to a foot or more of snow on top of what we already have. This is no April Fools joke, and believe me I wish it was. I hope the Easter Bunny plans on bringing his snow shoes!
Last weekend gave us a couple of outstanding days to be on the ice. After being on the sidelines for most of the winter recovering from hip surgery, the Morganator made a comeback! I sure have missed having my partner with me. We made up for it by spending Saturday and Sunday afternoon poking around on a small inland lake in search of panfish. Warm temps had knocked down quite a bit of snow, and we found travel by snowshoes to be relatively hassle free. As nice as the weather was it really didn’t matter that the fishing was tough. Crappies up to 8″, some small gills, and some small perch were all we could produce. Those that did bite were awful reluctant to do so, and they were definitely not in a feeding mood. We marked plenty of fish, but the pattern was one or two fish per hole. After that you had to move on. My arms were a little sore from drilling holes, but I needed the exercise. We caught all of our fish in 6′ to 8′ of water on small tungsten jigs with waxies. Deeper and shallower attempts didn’t provide any action, and size of jig didn’t seem to matter. Don’t let the picture fool you. Someone taught that girl how to hold fish for a picture!
Josh took a much deserved break from the ice to do a little fishing for himself. It’s been an annual tradition for him to hit the river opener with Acorn and John, and it sure looks like the guys had a ball. Snowshoes were required to get to some of their favorite spots, but it appears to have been well worth the hassle. Two days of fishing produced some beautiful fish including steelhead up to 29″ and browns up to 26″. Those are some great looking fish, and it’s sure nice to see some open water in those pictures. However, I’m not sure I could quite squeeze my boat in there…
On Monday, Josh was back to work guiding Dan and his wife Rene with Acorn along as well. Near shore action on the bay appears to be picking up, and they had a nice outing that included 3 steelhead up to 26″ and 2 cohos up to 14″. They fished 5′ to 25′ of water with Vibratos and Kastmasters. Of course, Acorn stole the show again with an awesome looking steelhead. What a guy! We certainly haven’t had a consistent late ice bite on Chequametgon Bay to this point, but maybe our extended winter will push it deep into April. It’s really hard to say considering the conditions we’ve been dealing with, but never second guess Mother Nature. She always knows best. Even if we don’t like it!
As for ice conditions, travel by foot with snowshoes on the inland lakes was very reasonable last weekend. Before this most recent storm, there was still several layers of snow, slush, and ice. I had to bury the auger to open up my holes. With more snow on top of that, I’m guessing more slush will have developed. Near shore ice on Chequamegon Bay still appears to be very stable with snowmobile or foot travel being the recommended options. All of that said… It’s April, and the sun is getting higher in the sky every day. With that comes rapidly deteriorating ice. With added snow on top, this can make for precarious conditions. Extreme caution should be used from this point forward on both inland lakes and on Chequamegon Bay as well. If in doubt, don’t risk it. No need to tempt fate my frieneds! Congratulations to the Wisconsin Badgers on an incredible journey to the NCAA Men’s Final Four. We’ll all be pulling for you this weekend Bucky. On Wisconsin!!!