We are so close to ice fishing now that the hard water anglers can taste it. If it will stay cold now, the ice will form fast. Small lakes and bays already are covered with a thin layer of ice.

This is a good time to remind everyone to carry an ice spud and to be extremely careful when going out on new ice. Be sure to check the thickness wherever you go out on that ice.

The best scenario the North Woods could get is for a week of good cold weather to thicken that ice before the snow arrives. Last year, we got heavy snow right away and it resulted in slush on the lakes.

Open water fishing is done. There were few muskie anglers on lakes during the deer season opener. Ninety-nine percent of the anglers have put their boats away for the winter. It’s time.

That early season ice fishing can be productive for both walleyes and perch. Tip-up fishing is great in the evenings for walleyes on this thin ice. Use medium shiner minnows under the tip-ups for best results. Set them on the outside of the weeds and intercept the walleyes as they come in to feed. Locate yourself on the shore side of the tip-ups, so you don’t scare the fish before they get to the tip-ups. Remember that the fish will be quite sensitive to noise with the thin ice.

In many cases, there will be some perch bothering those tip-ups. There is nothing you can do except fish for perch with jigging rods in the same areas with smaller minnows or waxies. On occasion, you can end up with some good bags of both fish.

It will be a long time before we’ll be able to get onto the ice with vehicles, including four-wheelers or snowmobiles. When the ice thickens, be careful with those machines as a few go through the ice in the early winter season every year.

At least ice anglers have a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks. Check out those auger blades and think about getting them sharpened.

Good luck and good fishin’.