Wisconsin Outdoor News Fishing Report — March 24, 2017

ASHLAND AREA

If the landings hold up, Chequamegon Bay anglers might get a few more days of ice fishing. Anglers were still targeting the channel areas of the bay and there were good reports on brown trout, splake, cohos, and even some lake trout. They were all following the smelt, of which there are catches in big numbers. Whitefish were active in 25 to 50 feet of water. Perch and northern pike anglers are primarily fishing off of the first and second landings, targeting weed beds in 10 to 15 feet. Travel last week was by ATV or snowmobile. Please check with local bait shops for reports of any hazards. It is still too early for the smelt to start running for those who want to run seines.

Angler’s All, (715) 682-5754.

River Rock, (715) 682-3232.

CUMBERLAND AREA

Most shorelines have improved, and main lake ice continues to be solid. If you wanted to fish this area, there shouldn’t be any problem finding a lake to get on. With that stated, fishing pressure has been really light, so reports have been almost nonexistent.

Indianhead Sport Shop, (715) 822-2164

DOOR PENINSULA AND ALGOMA/KEWAUNEE AREA

There is still a little bit of ice fishing going on since we had a blast of cold weather. Though there are limited areas with walkable/safe ice, the diehard anglers have been going out on it and having some pretty good success. Perch fishing was going extremely well, but the season came to a close on March 15. Little Sturgeon and Sawyer Harbor were the hot spots. Pike fishing has been going well as those fish follow the perch into their spawning grounds. And, if the ice can hold on, there will be good opportunities to ice a trophy walleye in those same areas as the walleyes push shallow ready for their spawn. Odd Ball jigs and Rapala jigs are just two of the main jigs to have in the box. Tip jigs with minnows and or minnow heads. The ice conditions will change on an almost daily basis, so use extreme caution before walking on the ice in whatever area you may want to fish. Up until the recent freeze-up, boat and shore fishermen were enjoying some excellent brown trout action throughout the county. Anglers had been trolling the shallow shorelines of Lake Michigan and catching nice numbers of browns. The best depths had been in less than 25 feet with Mauler spoons, Floating Rapalas and Thundersticks, just to name a few. There have also been some nice browns caught trolling right in downtown Sturgeon Bay when the ice isn’t around. Shore fishermen have also been having some good success casting from the pier heads and docks in all of the public spots. And as the ice completely goes away there will be lots of opportunities for browns, walleyes and pike throughout Sturgeon Bay and up and down the peninsula on the Green Bay side.

Howie’s Tackle, (920) 746-9916.

Algoma Chamber of Commerce, (920) 487-3090.

EAGLE RIVER AREA

We haven’t had a lot to talk about. The absolutely miserable recent weather kept people from getting out and enjoying our late-season ice fishing. Does anyone remember heavier winds and colder weather in March than what we experienced earlier this month? So far in March, we seem to be paying for that warm weather we had in February. Oh, well, we will get decent weather sooner or later. We added significantly to the ice thickness, as there was no snow cover on the ice to insulate it. We’re now looking at 15 to 20 inches of good ice out there. The very few anglers who did go out caught a few panfish, especially crappies. The best crappie fishing of the ice season lies ahead, as the ice thins out this spring. As the sun hits the trees each evening, we’ll see strong feeding in the weeds. The very best time is right before ice-out when the holes stay open overnight and you don’t even have to take your augers along. That period will come this year, but certainly not as soon as we were thinking just several weeks ago. It is supposed to warm up this week, and we’ll get a good number of people on the ice. Minnows under tip-downs or vertical jigging will work best for the crappies now still in deeper water. Use waxies and spikes for bluegills. Wigglers fished very close to the bottom in soft-bottomed areas are working very well for perch. These bait patterns will work right up to the time the ice goes out. We can expect at least three more weeks of ice fishing; that ice went from thin and a little weak to much thicker and very dense.

Eagle Sports Center, (715) 479-8804.

FLORENCE COUNTY AREA

There is still an average of 12 inches or more of ice on most area lakes. Fishing pressure has been light. Panfish are the current target and anglers have been getting good numbers of bluegills, especially in the Tipler area. They are hitting on spikes and waxies. Perch have been steady as well and are hitting better during the afternoon hours on wigglers. Crappie action has been poor. Those who are catching crappies said they were hitting on wax worms right at dusk.

Whisler Outdoors, (715) 528-4411

HAYWARD AREA

Look for bluegills in 8 to 12 feet of water and crappies suspended over 25 to 30 feet of water on most lakes. The Chippewa Flowage, Long Lake, and Nelson Lake are good starting points for crappies, while bluegills are being caught on Lac Courte Oreilles or Nelson. Anglers are finding that panfish are transitioning to early springs spots, places like inside turns with vast flats that have soft bottoms and preferably weeds. Of the panfish species, the crappie fishing has been good to very good. Look for them in deep holes, weeds, inside turns, and soft-bottomed flat areas in 12 to 30 feet. Use minnows and waxies on small jigs, teardrops, and jigging spoons.

Hayward Bait, (715) 634-2921.

Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau, (800) 724-2992.

IRON COUNTY AREA

Even though thoughts are turning toward spring and open-water fishing, a few diehards are still scratching out some perch, crappies, and bluegills on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage and surrounding smaller lakes. Most of the guys are fishing closer to shore, where they are walking out or using ATVs with chained tires even though the ice depths and hardiness improved with recent cold weather.

Turtle River Trading Co., Mercer, (715) 476-0123.

MADISON AREA

All of the ice is gone from the Madison chain, but cold temps have slowed down the action; backwater areas are not warming like they otherwise would. Bluegills and crappies will eventually move up into Cherokee Marsh. A few catfish are already moving up the river. Bluegills in Lake Monona’s “triangle area” and bays should kick in once the water starts warming up, as should panfish action on the Yahara River between lakes Monona and Waubesa. On Lake Kegonsa, look at the Fish Camp and Viking Park areas once the weather starts to warm up. Meanwhile, anglers are fishing walleyes below the Prairie du Sac dam, on the Wisconsin River above Lake Wisconsin, and also up at the Wisconsin Dells. Others are heading to the Rock River for walleyes.

D&S Bait and Tackle, (608) 244-3474.

Dorn Hardware, (608) 244-5403.

MINOCQUA/WOODRUFF/ LAKE TOMAHAWK AREA

If the weather forecasters are to be believed (pause until the laughter subsides), starting March 15 and on through for the next two weeks, area high temps should run from the low 30s to low 40s, with nighttime lows in the teens and 20s – a great set-up for syrup makers! What this would do is extend our ice fishing season through March.

The first couple weeks of March have seen temps so cold that we are seeing (and hearing) ice being made! Ice thickness reports are now increasing, with averages pushing up to 18 inches, with highs of 21 and 22 inches.

High winds (up to 59 mph) kept anglers off the ice recently. Morning lows in the single-digit to sub-zero temps didn’t encourage a lot of anglers to head out. Reports were generally poor, with small windows of action.

Yellow perch: Fair to poor. Fish were finicky with the best action coming from very small fish, if any. Eventually, these fish will get shallower as the season progresses. For deep water action, No. 2 Swedish Pimples and small Hali jigs, Kastmasters and Chandelier jigs tipped with wigglers or red spikes in 18 to 28 feet (mud bottom) was the best scenario, but some sand grass flats held fish, too. Shallow perch (12 feet and less) tend to be more aggressive.

Bluegills: Fair to poor. Cold temps made bluegills finicky. Tiny tungsten jigs tipped with a single spike, piece of small plastic worked the best.

Crappies: Poor. The bite has gotten tough; small fish for the most part. It was hard to finesse them in the wind.

Despite the dismal report, things should improve dramatically with a forecasted warm-up. With cold nights and above freezing days, expect another strong week or more of good ice fishing and ice access.

Island Sport Shop, (715) 356-4797.

J and J Sports, (715) 277-2616.

SUPERIOR / DULUTH AREA  

Main lake ice is solid and shorelines are intact so ATVs and snowmobiles are being used. Crappies are hitting in 10 to 12 feet on Whiteface Lake and Wolf Lake or 12 to 15 feet on Fish Lake. Rice Lake is a safe bet for keeper perch in less than 6 feet. The cold weather this week has limited shore fishing opportunities on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Chalstrom’s Bait, (218) 726-0094.

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