Ice cream, ice cream and more ice cream! Recent cooling has deepened the ice cover on inland lakes in northwestern Wisconsin and on Lake Superior. Drill extensions are not needed yet, but we are approaching 24+ solid ice on many of our inland lakes. In Lake Superior, the fan-shaped ice eventually extends to the Apostle Islands and spans Bayfield and Red Rock.
In the inland waters of northwestern Wisconsin, Arctic fishing has been fairly consistent, but the fish have become less aggressive due to the recent cold snap and pressure. Subtle presentations and fishing at the best time are the watchwords for breaded fish and walleye, which are now very difficult to catch except in the morning and evening.
Pike fishing has also slowed somewhat, especially in public areas, due to high fishing pressure this year. To find good pike in the last weeks of the season, it’s important to find isolated weeds or deeper structure that hasn’t been fished very often. Once you find them, getting smaller can be a game changer for pike that have less appetite in the winter. Another important winter trend may occur as the ice thickens and small lakes begin to consume oxygen.
In small lakes, pike and perch move and concentrate in the upper 5′ of the water column to join the higher oxygen present there. The use of sophisticated presentations can lead to great catches in these conditions. Overall the fishing is still decent despite the cold weather, but with the upcoming warm up, I’d say the last two weeks of February could really be the start of some good night fishing!
Lake Superior is a different story. Trout, salmon, jellyfish, whitefish and herring don’t seem to be afraid of the cold like their cousins in warm water. The only thing affected by the cold weather is the pressure in the corners, which has dropped significantly. Small spoons filled with minnows work best.
For anglers who want to brave the cold, there is good fishing for a variety of species in Chequamegon Bay. Ice cover has increased significantly, allowing anglers to access deeper water for lake trout and catch some very nice fish. There is ice fishing near Duluth, but it’s not safe yet.
As many of you know, this past weekend about 30 anglers had to be rescued from a piece of ice that broke off in 20 mph winds just across from the city of Duluth. I would not recommend going to this area unless you are very experienced and well prepared. There’s plenty of ice cream elsewhere too, so get out there, dress warm and buckle up!!!
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