As we head toward midwinter, the ice fishing situation has stabilized considerably. There are very good numbers of ice anglers going out almost on a daily basis. We have had some snow and cold, but the ice is running from 8 inches to 14 inches thick on most lakes. You’ll see autos on many lakes now, and four-wheelers and snowmobiles on all lakes. Unless we get one of those maddening 15-inch snowstorms, the conditions are good and will hopefully stay good for some time now. It also is good for the cross-country skiers and snowshoers. It was such a rocky start that this set of great no-slush conditions didn’t look as if it ever would happen this year.

Walleye action was pretty good from the start and has held up well on most lakes. Of course, most of the action is in the evenings and at night for these fish, and all the usual methods are working. Most guys are setting the tip-ups to get fish on the way in the late afternoon or evening and will then, move shallower after dark as the fish move through the weeds and on the rock bars to feed. As always, medium shiners or sucker minnows are the best baits to use. Northern tip-up action also has been very good in and around the weeds. Most anglers will use large shiners for this.

Panfish action also has been pretty good, with the crappies having moved deeper for the winter. On the Eagle River Chain, that means fishing in the holes and just about every lake has one or two holes that hold these crappies, some perch and walleye. These holes can be very popular, especially on nice weekends. There are a number of ways to fish for these crappies, including tip downs with minnows and jigging for them with small plastics. Many anglers add waxies to their jigs. Remember to search vertically for these crappies, as they seem to travel in moving schools. You’ll find perch everywhere from weeds to deeper water where you would normally find walleyes. Bluegills are generally in the weeds, and will hit waxies or red spikes at will. This action has been pretty good when the temps are a little warmer.

All in all, it has been a good year so far.

Good luck and good fishin’.