Good morning, quite a warm up this week from last week. If you factor in the “windchill” it is almost an 80 degree swing from last Thursday to next Thursday. I’ve talked to a few anglers and they said the cold helped the lakes a little bit, but it almost seems too little too late. With temps above freezing almost everyday this coming week and some precipitation I personally think we are going to go right back to what we had. The fish don’t seem to care as I have heard the crappie bite is hot right now!
Northern pike–No reason to change things up for pike as far as how to fish them in winter. Tip ups are pretty much the go-to for targeting pike though location may change slightly. Pike may be pushing just a little deeper off of weed edges and roaming points, deep weeds, and deeper structure out into main lake areas. Most of their preyfish are now moving into that water and pike will follow the food. Suckers or shiners are the most popular bait underneath a tip up in my area. If prepared rod/reel/line wise, jigging for pike can work also. Big flashy jigs that dart and dance in the water column will call in aggressive pike who usually smash baits unexpectedly.
Walleye–I have not heard a whole lot on a walleye bite as of late, but would start fishing the deeper areas of the lake where the bottom transitions from hard to soft. Pounding jigging style minnow baits or flashy spoons into bottom and then working them up a few feet will call in walleye from good distances. Work the bait up the water column until fish commit or turn negative and adjust from there. Keep a dead stick rod in a hole close as sometimes they prefer subtle to flash. If nothing is happening on the big flashy stuff, toning it down to smaller spoons and movements can be key.
Crappie–The crappie bite is good right now and some fish are out in the deep basins and some are still in and around the deeper weed edges. Most of that depends on the lake and type of structure in the lake. Smaller presentations with more subtle movements can be the ticket to picking apart bigger crappie. Tungsten jigs work well in both shallow and deep although size of jig may come into play a little bit. Size up to get jigs deeper faster and go smaller when shallow. Tip jigs with plastics, waxies, or spikes for both presentations as well.
Perch/Bluegill–Both perch and gills will most likely be related to weeds in some capacity. Perch may be deeper and closer to the transition of soft to hard bottom with they walleye, while gills will be shallow and in the thicker stuff. Both will be feeding on bugs and various things coming off of bottom or the weeds so the smallest spoons and jigs are the best choices to catch fish. For perch it is tough to beat a minnow head pinched off on the treble of a small spoon, while gills generally prefer plastic, waxies, or spikes tipped on a jig head.
Everyone have a great weekend, take care and we will talk soon.