What a perfect set of conditions for ice fishing so far this year and it shows in the number of anglers we have seen on the ice. 

At this point, we are starting to see some vehicles on many lakes. Ice thickness now runs from 9 to 13 inches on all area lakes. Despite that, be careful on the Chain of Lakes for current areas, as they can result in much thinner ice, especially if the dams are open. People can get everywhere they want to fish on this ice. Many are using snowmobiles and ATVs on the ice.

Walleye fishing has been very good for this time of year, with good catches reported throughout the area. Afternoon fishing right through the evenings has been quite productive on most lakes. Tip-up fishing remains the favorite, but many anglers now report good action jigging in the 10- to 20-foot range. For your tip-ups, either medium shiners or sucker minnows will work the best, although some of the anglers who are looking for bigger fish will use large shiners. 

Northern fishing also has been very good in the area. One of the good things about tip-up fishing for northerns is that it will be in the same area as good panfishing, so you can put out a few tip-ups and jig in the same area for panfish. Large shiners are the best for northerns. 

Panfish action had been very good for all panfish species, especially for crappies and perch. Crappies are generally in deeper water in schools feeding as they move. Either tip-downs or jigging with vertical jigs tipped with waxies seem to work best. On the Chain, they will be in or near the holes. In general, look in the 12- to 25-foot range for these fish. Perch are in the deeper weeds and often mixed with walleyes. They will usually feed near the bottom, and sometimes trip tip-ups set for walleyes. Bluegills are in the weeds and shallower than the crappies and perch. They will hit small jigs with waxies or red spikes.

Take advantage of these great ice conditions while you can. We are bound to get a larger snow which will make it harder to get around and give us slush sooner or later.

Good luck and good fishin’.