Tick, tock… Time is running out on our ice fishing season, and I don’t have to tell you why. An incredible warm up over the entire mid-west even reached us, and our ice conditions are fading by the day. Sunny skies and temps reaching the mid 60’s are doing some serious damage, and this will be our last ice report for Chequamegon Bay. Inland lakes are probably not far behind, and we’ll just have to see what this next week brings. Driving around a bit today, I actually found some small ponds with open water. I’m not sure how long this weather will last, but it sure was nice working outside in a t-shirt. What a difference from two winters ago… We can only hope May will be this nice!
Aron Kastern continued to roll on Chequamegon Bay with another smorgasbord of fish hitting the ice. This has certainly been a banner year on the big lake, and it makes you wonder if the warm weather had an impact. Either way, the results have been nothing less than impressive. Aron and his customers caught everything from smelt to lakers with whitefish, browns, and perch in between. Oops… I forgot the eelpout. How could I??? Absolutely incredible! The presentation has been consistent with flashy spoons of various sizes tipped with minnows and plastics producing the most fish. Aron’s crew found 20′ – 50′ of water to be the most productive over the past week with fish predictably starting to move shallow. Aron reported that ice is starting to candle in certain areas on the bay, and the warm weather over the weekend will only speed that process up. Even though he did find areas still holding 12″ – 15″ of ice, we both agree that it’s time to be done. Things change in a hurry out there, and you don’t want to be the one to find that out. Although short, this ice season has been one for the books on the bay. I just hope they don’t all have sore mouths when I get out there!!!
Josh Teigen kept us up to speed on the inland panfish bite in the Hayward Lakes area this week. He and his buddy John Darwin did a little prospecting and found active gills and crappies in 6′ – 12′ of water. The spring push has officially started! Last week we reported crappies in 30′ – 40′ and this week in less than 15′. Moral of that story is that if your basin fish are disappearing, start heading toward potential spawning bays. Those fish are most likely somewhere in between. Small spoons tipped with waxies and jigs tipped with plastics all produced fish. Josh reports 14″ – 16″ of ice on inland lakes, but it’s getting worse by the day. If it looks bad it is, and please don’t chance it folks. Floatation suits and life vests should be mandatory equipment if your heading out over the next week, and please remember that you don’t have to keep them all. Liberal panfish limits still exist in northern WI, and I hope everyone exercises good judgement in what they chose to bring home at the end of the day. It’s not an unlimited resource, and technology has made us all more efficient at what we do. Take a meal home, but please put a few back so we can enjoy this fabulous sport for many years to come. The catch & release movement made it possible for us to enjoy what we have now. Don’t ever forget that!
We’re officially done booking ice fishing trips for this season, and I can’t thank Josh Teigen and Aron Kastern enough for all of their hard work. They tirelessly keep us posted on what’s happening and their customers on fish. It’s a pleasure and an honor gentlemen. You’re both a credit to the guiding profession, and we’re lucky to have you. I’ll see both of you soon on water that’s in “liquid form”. Until then, we’ll keep everyone posted on any opportunities that are happening in our area between now and the Wisconsin fishing season opener on May 7th. With any luck, I may even have a few stories to share from waters far away over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!!!