Hot-Cold-Hot-Cold...it's been the weather as well as the fishing action. As we head into the late ice period and the end of the gamefish season (inland lakes the first Sunday in March--March 3rd), some snow cover on the ice and some stable weather patterns may just cap off the 2012-2013 ice fishing season with some serious fishing action. Perch are aggressively feeding and full of eggs while Northern Pike are also on the feed close to the spawn. Read on to find out where the fish are biting in Waukesha and Washington Counties.
Big Muskego: Action out here remains slow. Some stable weather just might fire things up following this snowfall. A few smaller perch and bluegills were reported recently to be caught in Bass Bay. Tip-up action is present on the Northern Pike and Largemouth bass, but if you want success as a group, take lots of friends and spread out the tip-ups.
Keesus: Bluegill fishing for numbers in 3 Southern Bays are pretty hot right now. The size isn’t anything too special (6-7”) but it’s a great way to pass the time in between Pike flags which have also been flying in this same area. Majority of the Pike are in the Low 20” class, but a few over 30” have been reported. Mornings have been best for action between 7:00-11:30am. 13-16” of ice have been reported in most areas on the lake.
Golden: Less Ice than most area lakes at 13” (There are also springs on this lake to be mindful of). Best action for jigging bluegill and crappie has be a matter of “extremes”. The extreme south or north ends of the lake. The south end is easier given it’s location by the launch. Target the weedline in 18-20’ of water and any jig with a wax worm will put you on some fish pretty quickly. The north end at the edge of the marsh has also been good but it’s a commitment to walk out there (which hasn’t been bad with the glare ice, but this snow cover could make it a work out). Rhino Point (west end of the lake) is always a community hot spot to try but it’s been off lately for most species. Perhaps the added snow cover and stable weather following the front will help.
Okauchee: Solid 10-12” in the Bays on Okauchee Lake. Stumpy Bay action is still hot on the panfish including bluegills and perch. Small tear drop jigs with multiple spikes seem to be working best in the 5’ range. Tip-ups have produced Pike 30+” near the breaks. Anglers have been tipping their flags with medium to large shiners, smelt, and even hot dogs for success! Anglers are starting to report catching crappie in the evening (3pm and later) out in front of the Golden Mast. While waiting for them to turn on some nice bluegill action is occurring as well. Crappies are also being taken in Icehouse Bay as well but target the 8-15’ zone and look for suspended fish. Small jigging raps (Size 2) and Slender Spoons (1/8oz) will produce aggressive fish, but downsizing to spikes on a 1/16 oz tear drop Marmooska Jig, etc. is the ticket. Bay 5 area has been putting out a mix of Largemouth bass and Pike on tip-ups.
BONUS: CLICK HERE and read more in this post regarding a successful means to targeting crappies through the ice this time of year.
Pewaukee: 14 solid inches of ice on the majority of Pewaukee Lake. 9-10” perch have been taken out here by anglers who are willing to drill lots of holes and downsize their tip-ups. Use 8lb fluorocarbon leaders on your tip-ups with a #12 or #14 treble hook baited with a small golden shiner or lake shiner. Jigging will produce smaller fish in the same area, but the tip-ups seem to produce the bigger, active fish. The were previously located on the weedflats but have moved in school to 10-12’ of water at the weed edge.
Lac La Belle: The angler pressure has signifcantly decreased as the fishing has slowed, but now might be the best time to head out from the beach in search of crappies. Move around while jigging to find active fish, OR stay “anchored” in your shack once you find a decent sized weedbed and entice fish to come look while jigging, BUT have a dead stick rod with a large fathead or small shiner sitting next to you down a separate hole. You do the calling and the dead rod will do the catching. Success can be increased at detecting bites on your dead rod by using a Rod-N-Bobb’s 3-4” Summer/Ice Float rigged slip style. The crappies can pull this down with just the right amount of resistance so they won’t let go.
**Sold at Dick Smith’s Live Bait and Tackle**
The opportunity also exists on the main lake to chase whitebass in numbers and an occasional walleye in the same area near the peninsula off of Chestnut road.
Fowler Lake: Head around Church Point to the north and set up for Northern Pike anywhere from 10-20’ deep over the tops of the weeds. Flags aren’t flying furiously, but a couple 30+” fish are being reported by a few different groups out here. If you’re looking to get into some panfish, head to the North end of the lake (head out straight from the launch and around the point). The far shoreline running south all the way to Fowler Park has been pretty good for bluegills and perch. Stick to the 8-12’ zone and use jigs in a horizontal fashion as vertical jigs aren’t getting hit, only looked at. If you want best success with the perch right now, use a spring bobber! They’re biting awfully light.
Nagawicka Lake: The main lake is starting to see some fishing action. The South end of the lake has been putting out some decent Northern Pike action with fish up to 35” being reported (Release of these female fish are encouraged at this time of the year). If you’re accessing the lake from the boat launch be cautions and spud your way out to the South end due to the sketchy ice formation we had this year. The beach area especially is questionable as is the area out in front of the beach where the ice scuba divers have been cutting holes. To increase your success, target the weedline edges in 12-15’ of water in this section of the lake OR placed your medium to large shiners over the tops of the weeds. A #8 hook is plenty to reduce your dropped flags. Also, try using 30-40# flurocarbon leaders at the end of your set up to increase the number of tip-ups you get. Another area to target for Pike action this time of year is the first drop off (10’) outside the Kettle on the north end of the lake. You can access this area by venturing through the woods after parking on Vettleson Rd.
Ashippun Lake: A few jumbo perch have been reported by anglers targeting 30’-35’ in the basin of the lake. A Vexilar Flasher unit is encouraged due to the fact that they have been suspending up to 8’ off the bottom. A couple nice gills have been mixed in as well. Best times to hit this lake for this bite seems to be in the morning until about 9am. The fish then spread out and become inactive. Northern Pike (20” class fish) are being taken by anglers fishing medium suckers 4-5 foot off the bottom over 15’ of water. These fish are staging prior to spawning on the flats. Release of these fish is encouraged at this time if you manage a keeper.
Pike Lake: Ice conditions are generally boasting about 14” of ice on most of the lake. The perch have moved up into the 4-8’ of water and are feeding pretty aggressively out here. So ferosious in fact they they’ve been taking small shiners on finesse tip-ups quite well. Jigging for them is also great action for the kids. A green or orange glow jig seems to call the school in, but dropping a more natural presentation down the hole as a follow-up once they’ve been marked is a pretty good combination for action.
The bluegills have been aggressive as well but mostly in the evenings. Walleye anglers are reporting nice sized gills are eating minnow heads tipped on the end of buckshot rattle spoons while fishing for eyes at dusk. Northern Pike flags have been flying, but size isn’t anything special for most (20-25” range). The bigger fish are there as a 41” was brought into the registration table at a recent jamboree. A good tip might be to keep a couple of your tip-ups set just under the ice when over the top of weed beds, as they’ll fire up to take the medium or large shiner from right up against the bottom of the ice. Walleye Wednesdays have been producing some nice sized walleyes (19-20”) but the numbers aren’t that high considering an average of 3-4 fish are brought in when 50+ anglers are on the ice.
Big Cedar Lake: 16” of solid ice on the North end of the lake has it looking like “shanty town” up there. Take it easy on the launch as it’s a bit torn up after the warmer weather we had and the jamboree recently. Also, stay away from the narrows/channel as it’s still NOT safe and there is a heave forming in that area. Due to the increased traffic on the North end, the evening bite for Northern Pike has been stronger than the daytime hour bite, as angler pressure and traffic on the ice has made them reluctant to bite mid-day. For example, a 38” Pike was taken at 7:30 pm by a couple guys jigging for bluegills and crappie the other day. Targeting the 5-12’ zone with tip-ups has put anglers in the right area for success. Large Golden Shiners and Medium Suckers are the ticket. Perch are harder to come by right now, but more success seems to be on the south end of the lake. Moving around is key. Best bet for bluegills right now is to stick to the weedlines on the north and south ends. Using tungsten jigs tipped with spikes as opposed to wax worms are allowing anglers to sort through many bluegills in search of some size. East end of the lake by Hackers has been better action.
Chad Leton's blog is an extension of his youth guide service HookedUp101 Fishing Academy which serves Southeastern & Central Wisconsin.