Today officially ends the game fish season on inland lakes in northern Wisconsin. Man that went fast! Even though we had another warm up this weekend, there should still be plenty of ice fishing opportunities for panfish over the next couple of weeks. Chequamegon Bay remains open for all species except smallmouth bass however, and the Brule River opener is just around the corner as well. Still lots to do if you’ve got the fishing itch. With all of the fish being caught around here this winter, I’ve been a bit jealous that I haven’t been on the ice much to get in on the action. Well, a bunch of good friends decided to get together this weekend to change all of that.
I met up with some long time pals in the Hayward area over the weekend to catch up, tell stories, laugh, and catch a few fish. Mission accomplished! Brent Jacobson, Kevin Murphy, Sean Sarver, Brody Moreland, Greg Miller, Terry Peterson, and I all ganged up and put the hurt on a bunch of crappies and gills. Yes, I said Terry Peterson…! The weather was darn near perfect, and it was a spectacular day to get some fresh air and a few fish. It wasn’t exactly easy though, and we punched a lot of holes trying to figure a pattern out. The body of water we were on was relatively shallow, and we located fish in 8′ – 10′ of water. Active fish were cruising just below the ice however, and they’d light the screen when they swam by. Once your bait was in front of them it didn’t take long to get a reaction as they would usually climb on it immediately. Small spoons tipped with waxies seemed to work best for calling fish in while jigging aggressively before dead sticking it in front of their face. When a school came through, you’d catch three or four fish before they moved on. There was a window around mid day when the bite really got cranking, and everyone was into fish all at once. Our crappies ranged from 10″ – 12″ along with some really good looking gills up to 10″. We had around 14″ of ice, but it was definitely getting soft by the end of the day. I still see a few vehicles driving around out there, but I definitely don’t recommend it. ATV and foot travel are your best bets right now, and it doesn’t hurt to stop and check ice depths as you go from here on out as things will be changing constantly over the next month.
A stiff wind picked up in the afternoon, and it was time to stop and see our friends Jordan and Kelsey Gensmer at Angler’s Haven for pizza, refreshments, and story time. Boy were there some stories… Perfect way to end a perfect day, and I believe next year’s adventure is already in the books. Fun stuff, and good times!
Check out this fantastic picture Ashley and Chad Headley from Hayward shared with me of their 8 year old son Chase along with Chad and some super slab crappies. Absolutely love that sunset, and those are fantastic fish as well. Save a few for me Chase!
Aron Kastern and Josh Teigen checked in with a quick Chequamegon Bay report from this week as well. It sounds like there’s still plenty of ice on the Ashland side that should hold up for a couple of weeks if conditions permit. Perch, pike, trout, whitefish, and walleyes should all be on the feed over the next few weeks with some of the best ice action of the season yet to come. Ice conditions around Washburn are marginal and rapidly deteriorating, but there’s still 14″ – 18″ of ice on the Ashland side. Check out the stocky 26″ brown caught by Wyatt Bussler while fishing with Aron. That’s a massive fish! It’s also good to see Acorn Armagost back in the reports with a very nice walleye and some good looking pike while fishing with Josh. Nice work, and nice fish guys!