Kurt Justice of Kurt’s Island Sports Shop in Minocqua said many panfish anglers were having good success.
“Overall, crappie fishing has been close to excellent. A lot of people catching a lot of crappies,” he said.
Some anglers were finding numbers of fish but had to sort, with many coming in a little on the small side. But there were also reports of bigger fish.
“There seem to be a lot of fish that are like 10 to 11 (inches),” Justice said. “They’re getting some 12-inchers and even had some reports of some 14, 14-1⁄2-inchers and even one 15-1⁄4-incher.”
Many anglers were employing tip-downs with minnows, but a number were also finessing crappies with rigs such as a No. 10 walker tipped with plastics.
“Those fish are up in the bays where there’s still tall weeds that are still standing, anywhere from 8 to 12 feet of water,” Justice said.
Some said the bite can be intermittent, he noted. One moment the fish are biting and the next they shut down.
“You’ll drop a camera down and there’ll be all kinds of crappies around, but it might be a muskie or two swam in, or the fish for some reason just shut right off. But that’s part of fishing,” Justice said.
There have been “very good reports” on yellow perch.
“A lot of guys are still fishing some deeper 18- to 24-foot mud, using wigglers or red spikes on Swedish Pimples or Hali jigs to get down quick,” Justice said.
“But we’re also getting some reports of anglers fishing in 6- to 10-foot of weeds and finding perch moving in. And those perch seem to like a little bit bigger bait, like a jig with three or four wax worms smashed up on the hook or a medium fathead on a tip-down.”
Perch are earlier spawners than bluegills and crappies and those that are moving to shallow areas are probably looking for those bigger meals as they take in some calories in anticipation of that spawn, Justice notes.
Justice said bluegill fishing has been “good to very good.”
“I’ve got some guys who’ve been catching a few ‘gills over 10 inches, which is an exceptional fish for around here,” he said.
“A lot of that fishing’s been on either like the size 3- and 4-millimeter tungsten jigs and teardrop jigs in size 10s and 12s ... with a single wax worm or piece of Chena Bait ... Some people use chicken skin.”
Adam Hammes, a 15-year-old LUHS student, found some panfish on a Minocqua area lake recently, landing some bluegills and crappies while fishing with his dad and some friends.
Some of the crappies were pretty nice, including one that measured in at 14-1⁄2 inches.
Hammes reports that the big crappie took a fathead while he was tip-down fishing. The line just broke just as the big slab was pulled onto the ice.
Hammes said they were fishing in 8-12 feet of water about 2 feet off the bottom.
Early this week, most area lakes still had 34-36 inches of ice, with some spots where anglers couldn’t get an auger through without an extension, Justice said.
Justice noted that we’ll be losing ice now, especially with a warm week. As the sun was melting snow, it was getting easier to travel on the ice.
Caution is always advised when heading onto the ice. Conditions can deteriorate rapidly this time of year.
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com.