The warmer weather we experienced in the last week or so has actually improved the ice conditions on the lakes somewhat, as the overall snow level on the ice has dropped. This has made it easier to get around walking on the ice. 

A lot more ice anglers got out there over the Christmas holiday, which made some trails and gave us all good hints as to where they were fishing. This is a start toward “normal” ice fishing conditions. 

The other thing that improved lake access was snowmobiles running around on many lakes. This has made many trails to deeper water. Still, be careful out there and drill or spud your way out if you are going to fish deeper water in new territory.

Both snowmobiles and ATVS/UTVs are being used some on the lakes, but a number of anglers report getting stuck with the ATVs/UTVs as there is still a lot of slush on the ice in some areas.

Walleye fishing has been pretty good, with a few anglers now showing up with bigger fish pictures. To their credit, most guys who catch bigger fish are releasing them for next year’s spawn. The patterns are the usual — evening or after-dark tip-up fishing with either medium shiners or sucker minnows near the drop-offs or the weed beds.

Northern action also has been good, now that more people are getting out there. Larger shiners under tip-ups located near or in the weeds on lakes like Thunder, Maple, Muskellunge and many more will get you some action. If you are looking for really large fish, we’d suggest either Franklin Lake or Dam Lake.

Panfish action has improved significantly as more anglers get out there. It is now possible to get out to deeper water on many lakes, but we suggest you take a spud along and test the ice depths. Some nice crappies are being caught in mid-depths of 12 to 20 feet. For the crappies, take both crappie minnows and waxies along for bait. Vertical jigging has been producing some active fish. Bluegills and perch are in the weeds as usual, and hitting well on red spikes. Look for the greenest weeds you can find for these fish.

It sure is nice to see people out fishing on the lakes. Here’s hoping for a good 2020, both on the ice and later on the open water.

Good luck and good fishin’.