The ice conditions on North Woods lakes should get better with the cold weather this week, but we can do without any more snow for a while. 

While it is miserable to even go outside in this cold weather, it is really helping to expand the ice and firm it up for the ice anglers and snowmobilers who will be coming when the trails open.

The snowshoeing is great and the cross-country skiing is wonderful, but we’d sure like to do some ice fishing over the holidays. You won’t be seeing any cars or trucks on the ice for some time with this slush we have.

What we have at this point are 3 to 8 inches of ice on the lakes. The larger lakes that were not frozen until this colder weather are developing ice in the areas that were open water. This ice is thickening daily. Hopefully it will be good for everyone over the holidays.

Walleye fishing is OK now, with the usual pattern of good evening tip-up fishing near the drop-off edges and the weed edges where the fish are moving to in the evenings to feed. Medium shiners or medium sucker minnows are the preferred bait under those tip-ups. This action can last for several hours after dark for those brave enough to stay out there. Yellow Birch and Cranberry lakes on the Eagle River Chain of Lakes have been productive.

Northerns are hitting in the weeds and can be a good addition to an afternoon of panfishing. The northerns are hitting larger shiners under tip-ups in the weed areas. If you know how to fillet those Y-bones out of them, they are delicious. For this writer, fish in the size of 24 to 28 inches are best. Put out several tip-ups and then do some bluegill fishing or perch fishing in the weeds with jigging rods.

Crappies are popular in the winter, but that fishing is still a little time away, as they are in deeper holes for the winter. As the ice gets thicker, we’ll see a lot of anglers out over those holes.

Be safe on that ice. It is best to take a spud along and check thickness, especially if you are going to new spots. You might try an ice suit, which is quite warm and will float you if you go through the ice. They are available in sporting goods stores.

Good luck and good fishin’.