Good morning, bitter cold temps over the last few days surely have to have helped the ice conditions. From what I am hearing there is a fair amount of slush in between the snowpack and ice. Ice travel on anything other than a tracked machine will not be easy and on some lakes still not safe. I did hear before the wet/heavy snow last week the big lakes like Round, Grindstone, and LCO only had about 3″ of good ice on them. Smaller lakes like Lost Land and Teal, Ghost had almost 9″ and should still be safe to travel on. The Sawyer county snowmobile alliance has a pretty good post and are updating on Facebook regularly about the lakes as well. Since some of the snowmobile trails run across the lakes they are a great resource to check ice safety as they are monitoring ice thickness all the time. The reports on fishing have been sparse as most anglers just don’t want to deal with ice travel conditions right now, but we will give it a go!
Northern pike–Northern pike could be anywhere in the water column at this point as the snow cover has blocked out a lot of sunlight and killing off all of the remaining weeds that had any kind of growth. They are predators so if bait fish are still in the weeds then pike will be there too, if baitfish are in the basins then pike will be close by. They may be relating to points adjacent to the basin, or mid lake humps in the basin or a rocky bar etc. Using tip ups rigged with suckers or shiners is still the go to when trying to get pike, just adapt to the location where you are fishing. Set them a bit deeper when you are in the basin and up above the weeds if still fishing those spots.
Walleye–I have not heard of any kind of walleye bite lately, but my guess is the first ice bite is over and walleye are going to be transitioning to deeper water. Jigging will take place over tip ups for walleye and bigger spoons, and jigging baits will be the ticket. Soft bottom basins are a good choice right now as smaller bugs and other offerings will keep walleye close.
Crappie–Crappie are also starting to roam the basins right now and getting small jigs down to them is how you want to fish them. Tip the jigs with plastics or waxies or blood worms. They will be schooling up a little bit, but you may have to stay mobile to stay on them. Not much fishing pressure should be keeping them pretty aggressive in eating baits.
Bluegill–Bluegill will be the some of the last fish to stay shallower as that is what they generally prefer. Work the weeds with small jigs tipped with waxies and plastics.
Perch–Perch may be out roaming basins or still stacked up in the weeds right now. Weeds give them cover from predators and ample food for them to eat as well. Perch seem to prefer small spoons vs jigs from what I have seen. Tip them with a minnow head or tail and fish and start jigging!
Good luck to anyone who ventures out over this holiday weekend/week. Stay safe on the ice as well, a big warm up next week should have a lot more anglers out there! Merry Christmas to you and your families!!!!