The recent colder weather has thickened the ice and made it easier to drive on many lakes. This has been a good winter to get around out there. 

Anglers will find 12 to 16 inches of ice on most lakes, except for lakes with springs or current like the Eagle River and Three Lakes Chain of Lakes. This is great, as you can get warm in a vehicle if you take kids out there. Some snow would be welcome, however, by the other winter fans.

Fishing, in general, has been OK, but not great. This is normal for this time of year, as we often seem to have a January slump in our ice fishing.

Walleye fishing has been OK, but not great in the area. On the Eagle River Chain, things have slowed somewhat as the fish have moved a little deeper in response to the cold. You can still have some decent action in or near the holes on Catfish, Cranberry and Eagle lakes. There is still some fish movement into weeds or feeding areas in shallower water on the mid-sized lakes. As always, the best baits under those tip-ups are medium shiners or sucker minnows. On the larger lakes, the same patterns are in effect, but you can get some action during the daytime by jigging in deeper water near structure with vertical jigs tipped with minnow heads. This action, while it can be slow, can be fun.

Northern action remains more consistent than the walleye fishing. Setting tip-ups in or near the weeds will result normally in some decent action, especially in the afternoons. Larger shiners work best for this. You can also do some panfishing by setting two tip-ups for northerns and jigging in the same areas for crappies and bluegills in those weeds. There will also be a chance of some action from largemouth bass in those weeds. On some days, the tip-up action can be surprisingly good.

Panfish activity has been good, with crappies and bluegills providing the most consistent action. The crappies are moving around in those holes and in deeper water in schools. Jigging and setting tip-downs for these fish can provide great action, but it seems a little inconsistent at this time of year. Remember to also search vertically for these fish, as they seem to change locations in the water column depending on the weather. Bluegills and perch are in the weeds, with the ’gills locating shallower and deeper in those weeds. Waxies work best for these fish. Perch are locating near the bottom as they start to feed actively on wigglers. Red spikes or wigglers work best, near or on the bottom.

Hope for some warmer weather in the near future.

Good luck and good fishin’.