Our ice conditions are still a bit varied. Our up and down weather this winter have made for a variety of ice thickness.
Shallow lakes and protected areas/bays are your best bet for safety. Ice in these areas ranges from 4-8" while areas with current, springs or over windy deep water areas can be treacherous. Stay away from deep
water, and especially from moving water/current areas that look a little
Several lakes have people out, but I would still exercise some extra
caution if you're ice fishing locally. The PFD, a buddy system and a spud
bar are all excellent tools you should be using. .
Panfish are biting good a couple times a day, but there doesn't seem to be a consistent pattern from day to day. Part of this is the full moon cycle where fish are extra active, but sometimes it is just takes trigering a bite to get a school going. Smaller jigs but with a bigger bait
presentation is always good for early ice, and it seems to be working
right now. Watch for light bites, especially when trying to trigger a first bite, and vary your jigging stroke till you
find the right move to trigger the bite. Pay attention to depth and your rod action, and then repeat. I've heard positive reports on some decent sized gills and keeper sized crappie, but not too much on perch, which given the fall fishing for them locally, I expected to see more action on from them.
As is typical for the first of the year, Pike are biting, but expect to see smaller, more aggressive fish. This is typical of this time of year, as
smaller buck male pike go on an early pre-spawn feeding binge locally. If you're
using a tip up and consistently catching smaller pike, move out just a
little bit deeper and set back up. Shallow water and green weeds will
get you some action, but the larger pike are probably still using the
first deep break where the perch are in the sandgrass. The closer we get to spring, the
closer you should move to shallow marshy areas. (Tip...your bait doesn't always have to be right on or just above the bottom.)
Walleye have been biting, but in a feeding window in the evening. I'm
not sure about a morning bite, but, but everyone I have spoken with has been talking about the evening bite. According to information
I'm hearing, 8-12 and 12-15 feet (where there is safe ice) has been on
fire. Go big with your bait though, it seems like the larger shiners
have been better than suckers or smaller shiners.
More as it comes in. I suggest checking with the local shops for ice
conditions on a daily basis until our weather decides to catch up with
the season or we get a solid, multi-day cold snap.