Spring is here! Just kidding, folks. We certainly have had some nice days in the last week or so, but just as certainly we will have some rough weather before the snow is gone. We’ve had a pattern of late snowfalls in the last few years and this writer thinks that will happen again this year. 

The ice has taken a beating with the last warm spell, and it will be increasingly difficult to get on the ice on as the ice recedes from the shorelines. Already there are some spots with water on the inside of the ice pack. Many late ice anglers take boards along to use waders to get on the ice. In this warmer weather, the ice gets thinner and more problematic each day. Don’t go out by yourself as spring draws closer. 

The spring fishing for panfish can be the best of the year and crappies are the favorite target for many of those late ice anglers. As time goes on and the water warms, these fish will move shallower, and stage a daily feeding run into the weeds in the evening. This produces an absolutely great fishing period each evening as the sun hits the treetops.

Right now, the crappies are still deep, and there have been a large number of anglers on the ice on the Eagle River Chain fishing in or very near the holes on each lake. Catfish, Eagle and Cranberry seem to be the most heavily fished lakes in this last warm spell. Action both with tip-downs and jigging has been reported. Similar action has been reported on most lakes with a crappie population. They will be moving shallower, but not until water is running back into the holes each day later in the month.

Bluegills and perch are starting to hit pretty well also for the anglers that prefer them. The ’gills are in the weeds as usual. They prefer smaller jigs with waxies or red spikes on these teardrop-type jigs. Afternoon fishing seems to be best for these fish.

Perch feed near the bottom in mud or soft-bottom areas on each lake. They are grubbing up mayfly larvae, so stay near the bottom when fishing for these guys. Minnows, waxies, red spikes and wigglers all work for perch fished within a foot of the bottom.

We can’t wait for spring at this time, but be patient. The game fish opener is May 1 this year, so that is as early as it gets.

Good luck and good fishin’.