After a little snow, we had almost perfect winter weather over the New Years weekend and thousands of people took advantage of that weather to get out on the ice.

They were, for the most part, rewarded by pretty good fishing throughout the area. Getting around on that ice is great so far. This is the exact opposite of last year for ice anglers. The only warning we can give you for ice conditions is to be careful of the current areas on the Chain and on the reservoirs such as the Rainbow Flowage. 

In general, lakes have ice from 6 inches at the least to 10 inches in many areas. We have even heard reports of vehicles venturing out on some lakes. If you take a vehicle out, be careful.

Skiing and snowshoeing are great exercise sports and many people also tried that last weekend. While some trails were groomed, some were not yet.

Walleye fishing has been good, with great numbers of these fish being caught through the weekend. As usual, the best time for this is the late afternoon and evening right through sunset and after dark. Tip-ups with either sucker minnows or shiners work best. Try for areas such as the deep edge of the weeds or the edges of the holes on the Chain for good results. Catfish, Cranberry and Eagle lakes have been the best on the Chain. The larger lakes also have been producing some fish, with good action reported in deeper water near rock bars. Deep-water jigging will work well with vertical jigs tipped with minnow heads. Then move shallower near the weed edges in the evenings.

Northern fishing has been very good with great numbers on many lakes. Larger shiners under tip-ups near or in the weeds works best for these fish. The darker-water, medium-sized lakes seem to work the best at this time of year.

Panfish action has been quite good at the start of this year. Crappie fishing has been good in the holes on the Chain, with vertical jigging the best method. Use waxies on those vertical jigs and remember to search vertically for crappie as they will often suspend. Bluegills have been hitting on many of the dark-water lakes in the weeds, sometimes somewhat shallow. Waxies work best for these fish, but red spikes are working also. Try Muskellunge or Boot lakes for good results for bluegills. Perch are hitting on many lakes right now. Try South Twin or Kentuck for good action. These fish stay near the bottom and will hit waxies or minnows readily.

All in all, we have had a great start to our ice fishing season. Let’s hope it continues.

Good luck and good fishin’.