It’s definitely feeling a little more like winter out there. The ice making machine finally got to work, and conditions on Chequamegon Bay and the Hayward Area Lakes have improved since our last report. It also looks like some fresh snow is on the way this weekend that will help out our ski and snowmobile trail systems. If you have an outdoor winter adventure itch, it’s time to scratch it. Andrew Gerdes, Aron Kastern, & Josh Teigen have checked in with their latest reports from northwest Wisconsin, and here’s what they had to say.
HAYWARD AREA LAKES
Andrew Gerdes (Andrew Gerdes Guide Service) reports excellent ice conditions in the Hayward area with 11″ – 13″ of ice and 3″ – 5″ of snow on top with no slush. Travel is just about perfect for however you want to get out there including ATV’s, snowmobiles, skis, snowshoes, etc. Andrew and his customers have been taking advantage of using portable shacks during the bitter cold stretch we’ve had to stay on top of a really good whitefish bite. This is an often overlooked opportunity on our inland lakes, but they are a ton of fun to catch and excellent on the table as well. Deep water over 40′, good electronics, and small presentations like a tiny widow maker tipped with a single waxie or small plastic are the keys to getting mixed up with them. Andrew says the crappie and bluegill bite has been coming in waves with lots of hole hopping to stay over fish in main lake basins from 15′ – 30′. Pike and walleyes have been most consistent from dusk to dark using tip ups rigged with shiners or suckers set along weed edges, shoreline points, and main lake reefs. 10′ – 20′ of water is usually a good starting point.
Josh Teigen (Josh Teigen’s Fishing Guide Service) has been on top of a good trout and whitefish bite focusing on the Washburn side of the bay. He says there’s 10″ – 12″ of ice from Bono Creek to Houghton Point with pretty smooth travel conditions for ATV’s or snowmobiles, but you have to be very careful when crossing pressure cracks. Always get off your machines and inspect potential crossing points with an ice bar. Better safe than sorry! Fish have been concentrated in 15′ – 35′, with Kastmasters and V-Rods the lures of choice. Color hasn’t mattered, just being in the right spot at the right time. There has been some sketchy and inconsistent ice forming north of Houghton Point, but Josh wouldn’t recommend trying it just yet.
Aron Kastern (Unlimited Trophy Outfitters) continues to keep his customers on a mixed bag bite, and he says ice conditions on the Ashland side of the bay are perfect with 12″ – 14″ of ice and just a few inches of hard packed snow. There is a very large pressure crack running from the light house toward Washburn that you’ll need to navigate when traveling east/west. Aron reminds us that the cracks change from day to day, so don’t trust any spots you’ve crossed without inspecting them first. With the recent cold snap, he’s optimistic that we might get a window of opportunity to fish further north soon. The bite has been really good in anywhere from 10′ – 60′ of water, and his customers have been catching just about everything including pike, perch, trout, salmon, and whitefish. Lots of cohos hanging around have been a bonus and provided a lot of the action recently. Keep presentations very generic with mid sized jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads and always a good spread of tip ups or set lines with shiners.
Good stuff and some great looking fish fellas! With all these options, the only issue is deciding which fish to go after. Good ice conditions have definitely been worth the wait, and it’s time to fire up that auger if you haven’t done it already. Be safe out there, and catch a bunch of fish!