Expect cold waters and maybe even some ice in the Northwoods for the start of the fishing season.
Minocqua based guide Kurt Justice says Lake Minocqua in Oneida County still had 32 inches of ice in places as of last weekend. “The ice is in poor shape, and it’s going to be a day to day thing.”
The good news about the cold water and the ice cover is that it’s driving fish closer to the shore. “We’re going to see a lot of walleyes coming up to spawn, so we should see a lot of good shore fishing opportunities,” says Justice. “You can fish with a minnow, a jig and a swim bait, or a stick bait like a Rapala.”
If you are planning to put your boat into the water, Justice says it’s more important than ever to be aware of the ice around you. “If there’s wind blowing, you want to make sure that ice isn’t going to move between you and your landing. ” He also says that moving ice can damage your boat if you’re not careful.
“Some of the smaller lakes and flowages should have some open water to put your boats in. The larger lakes will take a little longer, they’ve got more ice, more volume to warm up and that ice is in better condition so it takes a little bit longer.”
You also need to wear your flotation devices if you’re out on the water, since the cold temperature can cause hypothermia very quickly. “Life vests or these new floating jackets that we use for ice fishing are very helpful this time of year. It’ll keep you warmer and it will also help keep your head above water and able to get back to shore,” says Justice.
The Wisconsin inland fishing opener is Saturday. You can find out more online at the DNR’s fishing guide.