Good morning, drove through my first “snow squall” last night, that was a good time…….Between that little episode and some light snow we have about 3-4″ of new snow around the quiet lakes area. Hard to tell as we had some from early in the day and its been blowing around pretty good as well, so it could be a little more or less depending on where exactly you are. Looks like a slight warm up over the next week and temps steady in the low 40s towards the end of the 15 day forecast with lows at or just above freezing. We should see the lakes possibly starting to open up then. Most of the creeks and rivers are flowing pretty well so there is a good amount of water moving underneath “good ice”. We did get a fair amount of rain before this last little bit of snow, so not sure how the lakes are set up right now, my guess would some slush under a crust of snow. I was out snowmobiling last Tuesday on the Chip, Tiger cat, and LLL and the main lakes are plenty safe with only open water down by the East fork of the river that I saw. As always, use caution everywhere this time of year as ice depth can vary greatly with spring fed lakes, and moving water. The fishing has not changed much and not many anglers have been out to report on much. One last thing to note, fishing licenses expire at the end of the month and you can renew for the 23/24 season right now, so if you are planning to get out late ice panfishing may be a good thing to get the new license first!
Crappie–Fish should be starting to transition from deeper water into their spring spawning areas. I would look for deeper weed edges that relate to a basin or the main lake if in a bay. On lakes with a general basin bite fish may still be holding out there but may be more scattered vs. schooled up. Look for fish in the basins just outside these deep weed edges. On lakes with a shallow/structure related bite look for fish deeper into the weed beds especially where there are creek inlets or any kind of moving water stirring things up under the ice. The approach is pretty much the same in both systems with small tungsten jigs tipped with plastics/waxies the most popular way to ice fish.
Perch–Perch will most likely be in these shallow areas where things are getting stirred up as well. They will feed on spoons tipped with minnow heads or loaded with waxies that are getting pounded into the silt and lifted. Using a slightly bigger offering will help catch the biggest fish in the group and deter smaller fish from taking the bait. Live bait seems to produce better than plastics for perch in most situations.
Bluegill–Bluegill will also be in these shallow water areas as all of these panfish are starting to transition to spring spawning locations. Fishing for big gills can be quite different from crappie or perch though. Much more subtle, smaller jigs with plastics that “match the hatch” or jigs tipped with just one waxie or spike. Less aggressive on the action and just twitching baits a lot of times will get gills to eat. They also bite very light so ultra light action rods can help detect bites you cannot feel.
Have a great weekend and we will talk soon.