We are in the transition period between open-water fishing and ice fishing. As I wrote this, it was cold, windy and snowing, but it is supposed to warm up this week and actually be nice for a week or so.

The ice that developed on the smaller lakes should melt this week and give anglers another chance at open water if they want it. This will make the muskie and the walleye anglers happy. It has been a strange fall, with the water levels higher than normal and this early cold weather. To be honest, it has been tough out there on many days.

Walleye fishing has been very good on the Chain of Lakes for those who have ventured out. The fish have been in or near the holes, where they spend much of the winter. Jigs and minnows fished right on the bottom have been very successful in getting good numbers of walleyes, and some nice size fish. This pattern in the holes will last until next spring and make many ice anglers happy, provided we don’t have a winter with heavy snow and slush on the lakes. On the bigger lakes, the fish also have moved deeper, and anglers will find fish in 30 feet of water off the drop-offs. Jigs and minnows work best on these lakes also, but usually with ¼-ounce jigs rather than the lighter jigs you can get away with on the Chain.

Muskie fishing, at least for this writer, has been somewhat disappointing this fall. There was something “wrong” with many of the lakes in the area and the muskies just didn’t seem to be as numerous and active as usual. Speculation is that the higher water levels had something to do with it. We still have some time with this warm spell and the cisco spawn will hopefully help us. I don’t know about all anglers, but it’s been a tough fall except for the Eagle River Chain, where the fish have been active as usual. Sucker and jerk bait action has been good on the Chain, with some decent fish caught on that water.

Panfish action has been highlighted by great crappie fishing on the Chain with the few anglers targeting them. They are near the holes and right on the bottom. Good catches have been reported by the few anglers still fishing for them. Nothing has been reported by other panfish anglers, as they are all getting the ice fishing gear ready.

Bass and northern fishing is pretty much done for the year with the advent of cold water temperatures. Ice anglers will catch some nice largemouths and northerns in the weeds this winter.

It’s transition time, folks.

Good luck and good fishin’.