By George Langley
There was some decent ice building going on last weekend, but still need some cold weather to get this ice truly safe for vehicle traffic. As of Monday, lakes have 2 to 6 inches of ice throughout the area.
Much of the snow from that last snowstorm has melted into the ice pack. Anglers would really like some more subzero nights soon to thicken the ice pack.
It’s still that in-between season for most outdoors people. The deer season and the muskie season are over and the ice fishing season hasn’t really started yet. Be patient.
Walleyes were hitting for those anglers who got out there, but the ice was a little thin for many of the regulars to get to where they really wanted to go. As always, evening action is by far the best, so most anglers are getting out there by 3:30 p.m. or so and getting set up. As the fish move into shallow water and weeds to feed, they are being intercepted by tip-ups. Golden shiner minnows are best for walleyes, especially on all the darkwater lakes like those on the Chain. The ice is not safe yet to get out to the deepwater spots on the bigger lakes.
Northern action has been OK, but not as good as it will get later in the ice fishing season. It just seems to take a while for these fish to move into the weed areas on a daily basis. Large golden shiners set in 5 to 8 feet in the weeds work best.
Panfish action is good, but not great. Perch have been hitting a little in the deeper weeds. These are the first fish to start hitting for our winter anglers. Fathead minnows work best for perch. We haven’t yet seen the good bluegill action as their winter weed pattern has not started. Waxies or spikes work best for the ’gills. Crappie action will not start for a while, as the first crappie fishing will be in deeper water and anglers are yet to venture out that far.
As seems usual after the last several years, the ice fishing season is off to a slow start due to the ice development. More anglers are getting out on a daily basis, however, and the next several weeks will bring much more information.
Good luck and good fishin’.