The North Woods finally got some cold winter weather last week and it slowed down the ice fishing for some anglers still venturing out. 

Anglers still have great ice conditions out there. Ice thickness is now averaging over 12 inches on most lakes, but you should be careful on any lake with current, such as all the lakes on the Eagle River and Three Lakes Chain. 

We have had reports of some slush on many lakes, which is a bit of a surprise due to the lack of significant snow this whole year. The snow last weekend was roughly 3 inches of fluffy snow and shouldn’t be a big problem for ice anglers. There are lakes that guys are driving on now, but caution is advised for those who do.

That snow will be good for the cross-country skiers and the snowshoe fans, and better than nothing for the snowmobilers. We have a lot of winter left for all winter sports, but January seems to have gone by very fast.

Walleye fishing remains pretty good this year., with nightly action everywhere. Most people set tip-ups in the afternoon and have the best action near or after dark. Most anglers prefer medium shiners, but a number of anglers use sucker minnows on those tip-ups. There has been some decent jigging action for walleye, with anglers using vertical jigs baited with minnow heads. The action on the Chain has generally been in 10 to 18 feet of water. On the deeper lakes you can jig much deeper, often near some of the deeper rock bars. This action can be good in afternoons especially, and can bring some nice-sized fish up.

Northern action has been good, with action in or near weeds with larger shiners being the best bait. The northerns are in those weeds searching for panfish and minnows. Quite often the sunny days have been better. A good hint if you are not getting some fish is to hook two shiners going in opposite directions on your trebles. The minnows doing this are more active and thus produce more attraction for the northerns.

Panfish activity has been good, especially the crappie action in deeper water on the Chain right in or near the holes. Remember that these fish are traveling in schools and are usually suspended in different depths. This requires anglers to search vertically. Electronics are especially helpful in this search. Minnows on tip-downs or vertical jigs tipped with waxies have been good ways to fish. Perch are hitting well and they are over softer bottom and mud. Bluegills are in the weeds as usual, using the weeds for cover and feeding on the aquatic insects in the weeds. Waxies or red spikes are working well on small teardrop jigs.

The weather is going to be quite decent for the end of January. Get outside and enjoy it!

Good luck and good fishin’.