What a difference a week makes… Warm weather and rain persisted over the past week, and the promise of snow never materialized. Ice conditions have changed dramatically on Chequamegon Bay, snowmobile trails are shutting down, and the American Birkebeiner ski race had to be cancelled. It's not all bad though. Josh Teigen and Aron Kastern have had an amazing ice fishing season so far with the bay and our inland lakes consistently producing. Here's what they had to say this week.
Aron Kastern reports a solid mixed bag bite on the Ashland side of Chequamegon Bay with a little bit of everything continuing to bite from the Ashland shoreline out to the lighthouse. Schools of smelt can be a key factor this time of year. Scout around in 20' – 40' of water with your electronics. When your screen lights up, you're in business. Whitefish, trout, salmon, eelpout, walleye, pike, and perch are all possibilities with anything from small spoons tipped with waxies to set lines rigged with shiners as effective presentations. A strong perch bite off the Second Landing weed flats continues as well, and Aron's crew is catching good numbers of fish up to 13" in 7' – 20' of water. There's also quite a few walleyes mixed with the perch along with an occasional pike. This bite could get even better over the next few weeks as fish of all species begin staging in this area before ice out. The sleeper shack is still on the ice and ready to go, so give us a call for availability and rates.
After spending a couple of days on Chequamegon Bay early in the week catching trout and whitefish, Josh Teigen moved inland to keep us up to speed with the inland bite on the Hayward Area Lakes. Josh reports great panfish and pike action right now with fish continuing to creep shallower. 10' – 15' appears to be the the sweet spot. Crappies, gills, and perch that were holding near 20' – 30' basins have definitely started to migrate. To locate fish, start drilling holes in deeper water and move toward flats near possible spawning areas until you find them on your electronics. Small jigs and plastics will work, and don't forget to set a few tip-ups with shiners for pike that won't be far from concentrated schools of panfish.
Ice conditions on Chequamegon Bay are still decent on the Ashland side with 14" – 18" in most areas, but the Washburn side is a different story. Most of the ice north of Houghton Point is now gone, and any ice on that side should not be considered safe. Our inland lakes still have decent ice conditions as well with up to a foot and no snow cover. Snowmobile and ATV travel is still o.k., but don't even consider driving your vehicle out there. With cooler temperatures moving back in this weekend we should be good to go for awhile now, but be safe and continue to check ice conditions before venturing out.
Keep the great reports coming Josh and Aron!