Our January weather has in actuality been pretty mild, with very good ice fishing weather and very good ice fishing conditions out there.

In general, the ice runs from 8 to 13 inches in thickness and anglers are driving on many lakes in the area. This is a good thing, because fishermen and 

-women can take their kids on some trips and the kids can get warmed when needed. It also avoids very long walks onto the lakes. 

A little more snow would be welcome, but we sure would like to avoid any of those huge storms that make it difficult to get around on the ice. That last 5-inch snowfall did improve the skiing and snowshoeing conditions, and made the snowmobiling conditions a little better. With the Derby here, there should be a lot of snowmobiles on the trails this weekend.

Walleye fishing has stayed pretty good in the area. So far, we have avoided that dreaded January slowdown with the below-zero temperatures. We’ve seen some pretty good numbers on the Eagle River Chain and some of the mid-sized lakes in the area. In general, the fish are deeper during the daytime and as usual moving shallower to feed in the evenings. Shiners work best on the Chain as it is darker water. On the deeper lakes, the fish are also deeper in the daytime and can be jigged in 30 feet of water. Use a vertical jig tipped with a minnow head for best results. As on the Chain, the fish will move to shallower water in the evenings and night and into the weeds.

Northerns are hitting well. They are daytime feeders, so you can use tip-ups with larger shiners all day for them. Look for weeds to set the tip-ups. They have been hitting well on lakes like Boot, Deerskin and Pioneer. This type of fishing is a great way to get kids interested in ice fishing, and there is a way to get them filleted out and get rid of the Y bones. They taste great from this cold water.

Panfish action has been good, especially for crappies in the last week or so. With our ability to get around now, we can fish the holes on the Chain to good effect. Use electronics to locate schools of these fish, and be aware that they move around a lot in that deeper water. Vertical jigs tipped with waxies work well, as do tip-downs with minnows. On many lakes, you’ll also find these fish moving to the weed edges to feed. Bluegill fishing in the weeds has been pretty consistent, and as usual the trick for these fish is to find the bigger ones. They have been hitting mostly on waxies with small jigs and very light line. Perch have begun to feed more on wigglers near the bottom, so locate your baits near the bottom. Lakes like South Twin are good producers. Look for softer-bottom areas now or near weeds.

Take advantage of this great weather. Sooner or later, it will be below zero.

Good luck and good fishin’.