Good evening, we avoided most of what was supposed to hit us last night for snow/ice……as I am writing this there are blizzard conditions going on. Wind gusts of 30+ mph and snowing hard, looks like we may get somewhere in the 5-7″ range as we already have a few inches on the ground. We may be in for more snow mid week also….could be a little or could be a “potential winter storm” so who knows!?
Ice conditions were favorable this week and should continue to be for the next week or so. I was hearing reports of hard packed ice that is anywhere from 2 to 2-1/2 feet thick and I don’t really doubt that with the sustained cooler temps we have had during the days and bitter cold temps the last few nights. It just hasn’t warmed up enough to take much ice off of the lakes yet and the ground is absorbing most of the melt as well so we aren’t getting a ton of runoff into the lakes. The panfish bite has been pretty good also from what I am hearing. Nothing new in the way of tactics, pretty much just jigs tipped with plastics or waxies. Seems like bright colors are producing better than darker/natural colors.
Crappie/Bluegill/Perch–I would start in bays and some backwater areas that still have safe ice and are relatively shallow. My guess is most crappie are starting to stage up in spawning areas as the days are getting longer and more light is getting through the ice. Weeds should be starting to grow and the influx of fresh water coming into the lakes will be stirring bugs and other stuff up from the silt. Using jigs tipped with plastics or waxies should still be catching crappie, minnows may be a little big yet. Focus on the deeper section of the bay or the deep weed edges, maybe 8-10 FOW of most lakes. Bluegill most likely will be found in these same bays, but slightly shallower, maybe 3-6 FOW and closer to moving water if there is any in the areas you fish. Bluegill will be eating bugs and any of the hatches that are coming up through the water column. Small jigs tipped with plastics and waxies are the norm for all panfish right now. You may even be able to sight fish most of the species through the ice now, they can be that shallow. Perch should also be found in these backwater areas or bays and feeding on all of the same stuff. For perch I would go with a small spoon vs. jig and really pound bottom and fish it aggressively.
Everyone have a great weekend and let’s hope the snow takes it easy on us!! By the end of the 15 day forecast it’s looking like temps in the 50s so I think this may be winter’s last hurrah!