Time to get back to work! After putting the boat away in November, spending some time in the deer woods, and attending a few of the annual ice fishing shows, our weekly fishing reports have returned. As they have in the past, Josh Teigen and Aron Kastern will be providing us with information regarding ice conditions, what's biting, what tactics to use, and where to fish. These guys are two of the best, and they work extremely hard at keeping us up to date on what's happeing on the lakes in northwest Wisconsin.
Warm weather and snow in late November and early December delayed ice development on inland lakes in the Hayward area. Josh Teigen has been out a few times over the past week and reports variable ice conditions depending on the lake. He says that some lakes have 6" – 8" of good ice with no slush and others have 3" – 4" with lots of slush and tough travel conditions. The deep freeze we've had over the past week should be firming up those soft spots, but caution and scouting should be used before heading out. Once the slushy spots freeze ATV, snowmobile, and foot travel should be good on most lakes. Josh reports a decent bite right now, and he's been focusing on crappies and pike during the day while targeting walleyes as the sun sets. Crappies are being caught in basins from 20' – 30', and Josh recommends using Acme Tungsten jigs tipped with platics. Of course electronics are key to locating and staying on schools of fish. Keep popping holes until you find them. Pike are relating to weed edges in anywhere from 10' – 20', and tip-ups with shiners are always a good strategy. Cover different depth ranges with your spread until your able to dial in the right travel locations of fish as it can vary from day to day. Walleyes are being caught with the same tip-up & shiner method along weed edges as well as gravel & rock breaks. Set your spread to cover water from deep to shallow starting in 20' all the way into 10' as fish will move shallow towards dark. The methods are simple, but proven over time. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Those are some good looking fish Josh!
Aron Kastern has been primarily focused on Chequamegon Bay over the past week, and he says ice conditions on the Ashland side are good with 5" – 7" and building. There's 3" – 4" of snow cover as well but no slush. He say's it's a "typical" first ice bite and anything can happen if you're ready for it. 6' – 20' of water has produced mixed bag catches of perch, walleyes, and pike along with a few trout and whitefish mixed in as well. The second landing area has been good, and Aron is using small spoons tipped with shiners and fat heads for jigging along with set lines and tip-ups baited with shiners. He recommends trolling holes until you land on fish, and you never know what it could be. That's what makes the bay so fun! The brown trout fishery has really been coming on strong over the past few seasons, and I'm excited to see what hits the ice this year. We saw several topping 10 lbs. last ice season, and there's no reason to think it won't get better! As for the Washburn side of the bay, Aron reports 4" – 7" of ice with good travel conditions. Trout and whitefish are being caught in 10' – 35' of water. Jigging small spoons produce action throughout the day, but set lines with shiners are your best bet for larger fish. Aron cautions that anything northeast of the Washburn coal dock should be assessed with extreme caution before heading out as that ice is still developing. Things are definitely headed in the right direction though. If the cold weather continues, it shouldn't be long before we start getting some Apostle Island reports. Aron and his crew are riding in style this year with two Sno Bears to get his fishermen from spot to spot. Now that's my kind of ice fishing!
It looks like the guys are off to a good start, and I'm anxious to see what the next few months will bring. Give us a call if you're looking to schedule a trip, and we'll take care of all the details. I'll need to get out there myself. A 10 lb. brown has been on my bucket list for a long time, and this may be the year to do it! Nice work Josh and Aron, and stay warm out there fellas. It's mighty cold!!!
Thanks to all of you that have followed our reports throughout the years. We appreciate the continued support and hope you have a great 2018. Happy New Year!