It doesn’t take long for things to change in northern Wisconsin. The bitter cold conditions we had during our last report have finally moved on, and a much welcomed warm up has arrived. We definitely made a lot of ice earlier this month, but there’s lots of melting going on right now. Fishing around the Apostle Islands continues to be good, but changing ice conditions are becoming a factor. Also keep in mind that our inland gamefish season is winding down and ends on March 7th. Erik Thue, Josh Teigen, and Aron Kastern continue to plug away, and here’s what they had to say about our current fishing situation on Chequamegon Bay and the Hayward Area Lakes.
Chequamegon Bay & The Apostle Islands
Josh Teigen and Aron Kastern have been spending most of their time around the Apostle Islands lately taking advantage of the short window that allows them to get on top of big lake trout. Josh reports a decent bite for big lakers in 150′ – 200′ of water. Tubes, spoons, and blade baits have been effective along with loading up a Lake Superior Beetle with smelt. White, chartreuse, and pink are all good color selections. The warm weather is starting to make things pretty sloppy out there, and he says we are definitely losing ice by the day. Wind will also be pushing ice around, and anyone heading out there over the next week needs to be extremely cautious. Josh says it’s going to go fast if the forecast holds up. It sure has been fun seeing the pictures of the awesome fish these guys have been sending in. I’m liking this warm up, but I’ll miss seeing those monster lakers!
Aron Kastern says ice conditions inside Chequamegon Bay are awesome with a few inches of hard packed snow and around 20″ of ice making for smooth travel conditions between Washburn and Ashland. It’s been a typical mid winter bite on the bay with no rules. Keep drilling holes and moving until you land on them. The deeper water in 40′ – 50′ near Houghton Point has produced the most consistent mixed bag catches of whitefish, trout, and salmon. Use small to medium jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads or waxies as well as set lines and tip ups rigged with shiners. As always, don’t get stuck focusing on bottom as fish fish can be anywhere in the water column. Take advantage of all three lines, and stagger them to give yourself the best odds.
Hayward Area Lakes
Erik Thue from Catch & Capture Guide Service says that cold snap we had really made some ice on the lakes around Hayward, and travel is pretty easy going. He’s seeing 18″ – 20″ of ice on most lakes and even more in some areas. The panfish bite has been ok with the fish predictably getting a bit moody in the middle of a major cold front. He expects the action to pick up though with all of the melting that’s currently taking place. Bite windows have been random, and his best advice is to keep your line wet and on the ready at any time. Most of the crappies and gills are still in basin areas, and he suggests targeting suspended fish in 25′ or less to reduce mortality rates of fish you’re trying to release. The pike bite has been a bit tricky as well lately, but Erik says they’re still picking up a few fish throughout the day on tip ups rigged with shiners and suckers or dead bait like frozen smelt, cisco, and herring. Most of the action has been right on the base of break line edges with 10′ – 14′ producing the best. If the bite is slow keep drilling holes to cover different depth ranges and adjust your distance from bottom to find that sweet spot. Dead bait can be the way to go as we move into late ice conditions. Erik also wanted to remind anglers looking to scratch the open water itch that he’ll be soon be chasing trout on streams and rivers for the early catch and release season.
For those of you in Wisconsin that have a shanty on the ice, make sure you go to the WI DNR website to check removal deadlines for your area as some are approaching fast. March Madness is just around the corner. Get outside, enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having, and catch a bunch of fish!