The North Woods is certainly heading into a nice weather period, along with increasingly better ice conditions. Lakes probably average 7 to 8 inches of good ice now and that is pretty comfortable for everyone.

While we are seeing no vehicles on the ice yet, you’ll see some four-wheelers or snowmobiles. A few more very cold nights would be welcome.

After these cold nights, we could use some snow. Surprisingly, on some lakes, there is some slush already. There is not enough snow for the cross-country skiers or the snowshoe fans yet, but hopefully, the additional snow is coming soon.

Anglers should watch for ice thickness on the Eagle River and Three Lakes Chain of Lakes, as the dams have been open and there has been some current under the ice, especially near the channels.

Walleye fishing has been just OK for the last week or so. We all get fired up for the early season fishing, but every year we have trouble locating the fish. Shiners and sucker minnows are working on many lakes in the evenings. As this ice has thickened, anglers have been able to move around more over deeper water, but that deep water fishing doesn’t seem to be in full force yet. Set your tip-ups near the edge of the weeds in the evenings for best results, then move shallower well after dark. There have been some reports of a bite well into the night.

Northerns have been hitting in the weeds. Larger shiners work best for these fish and look for nice green weed patches for best results. On clear lakes, the deeper the weeds the better.

Bass fishing for largemouths has been very good as these fish have been very active on most lakes. Just set tip-ups with shiners for them in the weeds.

Panfish action has been varied, as the crappies are hitting very well on some lakes. Small vertical jigs with waxies or tip-downs with minnows are working the best. Look in the holes and in the weeds for crappies, but they seem to be mostly schooling in the deeper areas now. Search vertically, also, as they are not always on the bottom and can be surprisingly high in the water column. Bluegills are hitting on many lakes in the weeds as usual and perch are in the same weeds, but seem to be deeper. Minnows are best for the perch and waxies or red spikes are best for the ’gills.

Get out and enjoy this good winter weather.

Good luck and good fishin’.