We’re heading toward mid-January and we haven’t been exposed to that very cold weather that seems to always occur at this time of year. We’d like some of the cold, however, to improve the ice conditions for anglers.

It has been a winter and fall season with unusual weather, so we’ll probably get that really cold “winter vortex” in February, when we really don’t want it.

Anglers are seeing some improved ice conditions, but still experiencing some slush on the lakes. With some cold nights this week, we hope to get rid of a good portion of the slush and to get some ice that ATVs/UTVs and snowmobiles can get around on; who knows when trucks will be able to get out there. 

Walleye fishing has been pretty consistent. As usual, the evening and night fishing is best. A few anglers have been getting some nice fish and the number of fish have been consistently good. It is the time for anglers to do some deep water jigging during the afternoons As always, shiners and sucker minnows are the best baits.

Northern action has been quite good, with tip-up action in the weeds using larger shiners being the best. This is daytime fishing, so you can do some panfishing in the weeds at the same time. This is great fun for children and newcomers to ice fishing. These fish taste great from the cold water.

Panfish activity has been good and it’s getting better as the ice improves. Crappie fishing leads the way as these fish are in schools in deeper water now. Generally, the fish are in 18 to 24 feet of water. They will move vertically, so check different depths at each hole and those with good electronics will have no trouble locating the fish. Minnows and waxies are working well now. The holes on the Eagle River Chain of Lakes hold good schools of crappies. Bluegills are, as usual, in the weeds in pretty shallow waters. Small teardrop jigs tipped with red spikes work well. Perch are often in the same weeds, but deeper or right off the weeds. Waxies and minnows seem best for these fish right now, but soon they’ll be digging up mayfly larvae on the bottom and wigglers will start working for bait.

Get out and enjoy this good winter weather while you can. Sooner or later it will change and get really cold.

Good luck and good fishin’.