The North Woods has had some warm weather lately, which has felt good but not helped the snow conditions. 

It would be nice at this point to get a 5-inch snowstorm, which would allow the whole group of cross-country skiers, snowshoe enthusiasts and snowmobilers to get out there and enjoy winter. We’ll see what happens. 

Ice conditions, meanwhile, have gotten pretty good, with ice thickness from 6 to 10 inches in the area. You still have to be careful for current areas on the Chain of Lakes and on lakes with springs, but all in all there is some pretty decent ice.

More and more people are outdoors ice fishing at this point and the season has started pretty well. The key to fishing in early winter is the same as it was all summer — find the weeds. 

Walleye fishing has been good in the last several weeks, with nice results mostly in the evenings on many area lakes. As always, intercepting the fish as they move from deeper water toward shorelines or weeds is the most effective technique for this type of fishing. Tip-ups set with medium shiners or sucker minnows are the most effective. There also has been some action for walleye in the holes on the Chain, as some crappie anglers report action. On the deeper lakes, the same patterns are in effect, but you also have the chance to jig for walleyes in deeper water over rock bars. All you need for this is a flashy vertical jig and a minnow head for good results.

Northern action has been good for anglers fishing with larger shiners under tip-ups in the weeds. These fish are in the weeds after panfish and minnows, so you can also fish for perch or bluegills with one rod while setting tip-ups for northerns. One trick to attract more fish is to set tip-ups with two shiners going in opposite directions. These fish will attract more northerns as they struggle against each other.

Panfish action has been increasingly good, with crappies now in the holes on the Chain. With the thicker ice, we can safely get out to the holes to locate crappies. Most anglers doing this will set a couple of tip-downs with crappie minnows and then jig with a smaller vertical jig tipped with a waxie. Remember that these fish will change their location in the water column, so use electronics or fish at different depths to locate them. Bluegill action has improved and some anglers report nice action for these fish on either waxies or red spikes. Perch are usually in the same weeds as the ’gills, but deeper.

Get out for some ice fishing on these nice days, it’s a great cure for cabin fever.

Good luck and good fishin’.