We are now into the 2nd month of the 2018 calendar year. It’s sort of like dog days of summer, for winter as far as ice fishing, so, lots of tactics need to be changed. Temps in the area have now stabilized and resumed to freezing conditions.
This is good because of some sketchy ice we experienced last week, we heard several reports of bad ice. Personally, we even had an ATV tire pop through some ice on the St. Louis River, which caused us to relocate to a new area that was safer.
Even the legendary ice road connecting Madeline Island to the Mainland in Wisconsin was closed and re-opened. In a sense, we are back to normal conditions (for the most part).
Fishing in the area has been fair to good, depending on which species anglers are targeting. With the cold wind chill that is back, it has been tough to endure the elements, making for most of our fishing being done in the comfort of an ice shack.
It is also “Ice Fishing Contest” season and many area waters will be having annual fishing derby's or jamborees. Remember, if you participate, how important it is to release fish during these events. A good tactic is to have a pail or cooler of fresh water to temporarily house the fish until it is released back to the resource. Do not keep the fish out of water for long, and don’t expose the fish to the elements as this can cause damage to the specimen.
Lake Superior ice fishing has been decent and dicey. The satellite images we have been observing, have shown ice in and out of a lot of areas of outer parts of Chequamegon Bay and the Apostle Islands.
The safest bet is still the areas near Ashland, WI. Anglers are catching a variety of white fish, splake trout, burbot, walleyes, perch and the occasional brown trout. Best tactic has been using set lines with live minnows hovering in the middle of the water column. Don't be afraid to fish shallower waters.
Aggressive jigging of smaller spoons has also turned a few fish. Some lake trout anglers are starting to venture to deeper waters and finding limited success. This kind of fishing should be with a guide or a veteran of Superior Laker fishing for the obvious safety reasons.
The St. Louis River continues to be a "hit n miss" bite. Anglers that are logging the most hours on the water are showing the most success. There are a few bigger walleyes in the system. Who we kidding? There's always a "few bigger" walleyes in the system.
Anglers are encouraged to release these fish so they can have at their annual spring routine that will commence in only a few short months. Jigging smaller buckshot spoons tipped with minnow heads continues to turn the most fish, but some are being caught on live minnows under floats as well.
It’s important to change up lures, if you get fish to look but not eat. Different Cadence jigging styles can work to, so try and find a new rhythm occasionally. Especially if you are not getting fish to eat.
The inland bite is still the best bet for consistent action, but lots of angler pressure. Easiest approach is to take to vegetative areas with near-by drop offs away from other anglers. 10 feet of water has been ideal for a plethora of species. Bass, pike and the occasional walleye have been taken on live bait set-ups. Anglers are putting a lot of pan fish topside using small tear drop type jigs with soft plastics of wax worms. Mobility is important, and soon it will be more run and gun. Kind of tough with the cold conditions, but it does pay off.