The Department of Natural Resources weekly Outdoor Report indicates that ice conditions have improved on many lakes in the wake of colder weather, but noted variable weather conditions made for erratic fishing.
According to the report, walleye action was sporadic, northern pike action fair and some anglers reported nice crappie, perch and bluegill found suspended off in deeper water.
Pete Kruger of Northern Highland Sports in Boulder Junction was looking at a quiet street on a below zero morning earlier this week. Not many ice anglers were coming through the doors.
“Nobody’s been out with the cold weather,” he said.
The weekend, prior to the cold snap, had a few good reports, though.
“Friday and Saturday – guys were getting walleyes in the evening on various lakes,” Krueger said.
Krueger described recent panfish action as “fair.” He said some anglers were getting a few, but that the action hasn’t been real consistent so far.
Boulder Junction’s biggest lake had been providing some action for those willing to take on its depths.
“Trout Lake – they’ve been getting some whitefish out there in the deeper water,” Krueger noted.
Northern pike continue to be at least a fair bet.
“On some of the smaller lakes they’re getting some decent pike,” Krueger said. “I’ve heard of a couple of good catches.”
He noted that some of what he had heard on pike was from a couple weeks ago, and that one recent report on pike was from an angler that had a one-fish day. He expects pike will provide action, though.
“I’m sure fishing is still good if you can hit the right lake that’s got some decent pike in it,” he said.
Meanwhile, a few of the walleyes that anglers are finding are pretty nice.
“I’ve heard a couple of reports of some upper-20s walleye being caught – a few. On different lakes again. But that’s one here, one there too,” Krueger said.
Krueger also said it was a good idea to remain cautious on the lakes, but noted that the sub-zero days were going to be good news for the ice and those that travel on it.
“I heard they’re driving on a few of the lakes, but I don’t know that I’d do that just yet,” Krueger said. “I’d wait until this cold passes and check it out after that.”
Fish recipe from Tom Hollatz’s “Shore Lunch Cookbook.”
Mike’s Famous Beer Batter Fish. Ingredients:
1 C. flour or pancake mix
1 tsp. paprika
1 (12-ounce can) beer
Salt, pepper, garlic (to taste)
Mix beer and pancake mix. Dust fish with flour, salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. Dip fish in batter. Drop into hot oil. Cook until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon or tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or eat plain. Thanks to Mike Kokoska.
Prevent going through the ice
Check in with local bait shops to find ut about ice conditions before you go fishing and follow these tips for staying safe on the ice:
• Dress for the conditions. That means the proper clothing and equipment. Please include a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (vest or coat) that will help you stay afloat and slow body heat loss should you fall in. Extra mittens and gloves should be standard so you always have a dry pair.
• Wear ice creepers on your boots. These are ideal to prevent slips.
• Learn about the water you are going to fish. Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have currents known to thin the ice.
• Do not go out alone. If you do, carry a cell phone and let someone know where you are and your expected return time. Follow that timeline.
• Carry a spud bar to check the ice while walking to new areas during daylight only.
• Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself – or others – out of the ice.
• Do not travel in unfamiliar territories at night.
• Look for clear ice. Clear ice is generally stronger than ice with air bubbles in it or with snow on it.
• Watch out for pressure ridges or ice heaves. These can be dangerous due to thin ice and open water and may be an obstruction you may hit with a car, truck or snowmobile.
Share your pictures and stories
Got the one that didn’t get away? Share your pictures and/or story with us.
For pictures include your first and last name, town you reside in, size of the catch, location (you can be vague if you want to protect a secret spot) and date to: The Lakeland Times, ATTN: Outdoors, P.O. Box 790, Minocqua 54548 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a phone number for questions we may have and an SASE for photos to be returned.
If you’d like to share a story of your adventure, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and include a phone number with your information.
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com