Land O' Lakes Wisconsin Fishing Report

Fishing Report

October 13

Fall Muskys

FROM: Bruce Becker

Fall is the time for Big musky's to feed!
Bruce Becker continues his legendary guiding career with a giant musky just a quarter inch shy of the 50 monster threshold. Bruce is best known for his catches of monster walleyes, but his true passion is big muskies.
On Tuesday Oct 11 Bruce guided one of his clients to this 49 and three quarter inch monster.
Bruce reports that big slow moving baits are working best. Bulldawgs, Suicks, and glide baits that can be worked slowly are the ticket for big musky's. Sucker action has also been consistent. Green weeds, especially those with deep water access are working the best. Rocks are also holding some fish, but rocks are not as predictable as the weeds.
For more information contact Bruce Becker at 906 358 0995, or his cell at 715 360 6001

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

September 20, 2011

Shorter days, cooler nights, and water temps dropping into the upper 50's are representative of a fall pattern. Shallow weed beds are deteriorating which will send most fish into deeper green weeds or deep rocks. Look for water temps to continue to drop and a turnover to advance on most lakes.
Walleyes can be caught on deep rock humps or along the deep green weed lines using a jig & minnow combination. With deeper water presentations, a 1/8 oz. jig tipped with a med. sized red tail chub works well.
Northerns are still very active in the deep green weeds and can be caught with weedless spoons, spinner baits, and swim minnows. 1/4 oz. jigs tipped with large chubs or slip bobber rigs with minnows also works.
Small mouth bass are still being caught on deep rock humps using tube jigs or deep diving crank baits. Most fish are suspending around the outside edge of the rocks, but are moving up when feeding.
Musky fishing is really starting to pick up with the fall patterns in place. Casting swim baits and Bull Dawgs up on 12 to 16 foot rock bars has been good. Sucker fishing with Quick Strike Rigs is also starting to produce.
Crappies should start bunching up on deep water structure (rocks, stumps, or logs). Slip bobber rigs with crappie minnows work well or casting small Beetle Spins & Road Runners will also work.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

September 8, 2011

Blue skies, high pressure and colder night temperatures have had a negative effect on most fish. The recent cold front has also dropped water temps into the mid 60's and started an early turn-over on the shallower lakes. Look for a gradual warm up this week as a low pressure system moves in.
Walleyes seem to be the most sensitive to the cold front. Jigs & minnows have been the best while fishing on rock humps or in deep timber. Deep green weeds have also been holding some active walleyes and are being caught on minnow or 3" plastic grubs on 1/8 oz. jigs.
Crappies are scattered & suspended over large weed beds or mud flats. Fan casting light jigs tipped with 2" plastic grubs work good while drifting across these areas. Beetle Spins, Road Runner Jigs, and small horsehead jigs are also good choices.
Small mouth bass are holding on 8 to 12 foot rocky areas but are still moving in shallow for feeding. Tube jigs, Hula Grubs, and craw imitation baits have all worked well. During cold fronts and high pressure systems remember to retrieve your lures very slowly and fish close to structure.
Large mouth bass have been active but have also moved a little deeper into the weeds. Texas Rigged plastics fished slowly will produce some good fish. There are still some fish being caught in shallow stumps and lily pads during low light conditions.
Northerns can be caught in most weed beds while using swim minnows, weedless spoons or spinner baits. A slower live bait (pike chubs) presentation can also produce some bigger fish while working the deepest weed edges.
Perch fishing has been good in cabbage weeds or sand grass in about 6' of water. Slip bobber rigs with small minnows or small leeches has worked well.
Musky fishing has been slow but should pick up as the next low pressure system moves in. Most of the musky sightings have been on rock bars. As shallow weeds die off, more fish will be concentrated on the rock humps to feed on perch and walleye. Use perch colored crank baits or swim baits for the best results.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

August 16, 2011

A late summer pattern is in place with shorter days and cooler temps. As insect hatches disappear, most fish will become more aggressive during the daytime feeding on minnows. Most of the shallow weeds are starting to die off, which will cause fish to move into deeper green weeds or out onto rock humps.
Fish for walleyes along deep green weed edges or pockets in the weed bed. A jig & minnow combo is hard to beat, but slip bobber rigs will also work. Rock bars and humps will also be holding active fish and can be caught using deep diving crank baits or a jig & minnow combo.
Smallmouth bass are still being caught on rocky points or rock humps while using tube jigs, jig & grub combos, and craw colored crank baits. Most fish are holding in 8 to 12 feet of water, however when they're feeding, they will be in quite shallow.
Largemouth bass are primarily holding in thicker green weeds and deeper logs. Swim minnows, rubber worms and spinner baits have all been effective while using a slow retrieve.
Most northerns have been caught over mid lake weed beds. The biggest northerns are using the deepest part of the weeds and are being caught on weedless spoons, spinner baits and swim minnows. Large pike chubs are also working in these areas.
Perch are holding in cabbage weed beds in about 6 to 8 feet of water. Slip bobber rigs with wigglers are best, however small leeches will also work if wigglers are not available.
Fish for crappies over large weed beds using Road Runner jigs or Beetle Spins, drifting across the weeds while fan casting has been the best method. Most of the crappies are scattered and hard to pin point so covering a lot of water is essential.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

August 8, 2011

Cooler weather is forecast for the week which should lower water temps back into the low to mid 70's. These lower temps should also trigger a good bite as insect hatches slow down and fish get more active.
Daytime walleye fishing has been fair to poor, but should improve this week. Finding numbers of hungry fish has been challenging as a strong nocturnal bite is still on. Deep weeds, deep logs and rock bars have all been good locations with leeches still working well for daytime. Casting or trolling crank baits over the rock humps at night has been the most effective method for bigger fish.
Smallmouth bass are still feeding heavily on crayfish off of rocky points or on rock humps. Craw colored tube jigs, Hula Grubs, or crank baits have all produced. Most of the feeding is taking place in shallow water, but the majority of the fish are holding in about 8 to 16 feet of water.
Largemouth bass are still being caught in lily pads and stumps during low light conditions. Deeper weeds have provided daytime cover for most fish. Spinner baits, swim minnows and Teas Rigged plastics are all working well.
Deep weed and weed edges have produced some nice size northerns. Weedless spoons, spinner baits, and swim minnows are all good choices as well as using large pike chubs under a slip bobber.
Perch have been very active in the weeds about 6 to 8 foot deep with cabbage weed being the best. Small leeches or night crawlers on slip bobber rigs has been best.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

July 27, 2011

Water temps are still holding in the upper 70's to lower 80's as warm sunny days continue. Well established green weed beds are the main focal point for most species of fish with the deepest weeds and weed edges providing the best daytime cover. Look for these summer patterns to continue for the next week with warm temperatures still in the forecast.
Walleye fishing has been fair for this time of year. Overcast or rainy days as well as night fishing has been the best times to get out. Leeches and crawlers are still the best bait but fishing with small minnows has also worked well. Trolling or casting crank baits over mid lake humps at night has been effective. Fishing in deep weeds or deep shoreline timber during the daytime is working good.
Smallmouth bass are very active on most mid lake rock humps in 8' to 15' of water. Craw colored crank baits or tube jigs are working best. Smallies can also be caught on crawlers or leeches, but care should be taken so that you don't deep hook them.
Largemouth bass are still being caught in stumps & lily pads on surface lures (frogs, poppers buzz baits ect.) during low light conditions. Look to the deep weeds during daytime using spinner baits or Texas Rigged plastics.
Musky fishing seems to be spotty at best with most fish coming from mid lake weed beds. Slower retrieves with swim baits or Bull Dawgs are getting some results.
Northerns have been very active in just about any weed bed, but most of the fish have been on the small side. The bigger northerns are holding in the deepest weeds or on deep rock bars. Use weedless spoons or spinner baits in the weeds and large chubs in the deep water.
Crappie fishing has been good with the best bite being the last hour of day light. Fish over main lake weed beds with Beetle Spins or Road Runner Jigs during the daytime. Most of the fish will move into shoreline tree tops and timber in the evening and are being caught on slip bobber rigs with crappie minnows.
Perch are still being caught in cabbage weeds about 6' to 8' deep. Slip bobber rigs with small leeches or beaver tails held about 1' off the bottom has worked well.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

JulY 18, 2011

Surface water temps are moving up into the upper 70's to lower 80's as very hot conditions continue across the area. Most fish are moving deeper during the daytime, and a heavy night bite is also taking place. Due to the abundance of minnows & insect hatches, there is a great forage base for the fish to feed on.
Walleye fishing has been good to fair with most fish holding in deeper weeds or off deep rock humps. Leeches and crawlers are still the best bait during the daytime and deep diving crankbaits over rock humps are best at night.
Smallmouth bass are still feeding on crayfish over rock humps and rocky points. However, when the fish are not feeding they are dropping down into much deeper water. Tube jigs and plastic craws are working in the shallows and crankbaits are working when fish are deep.
Largemouth bass are very active in the logs and stumps but most fish are moving into adjacent weed beds. Top water baits are very effective under low light conditions and spinnerbaits or Texas Rigged plastics are working when fish are holding in the weeds.
Musky fishing has picked up with the warmer weather. Look for most fish along deep weed edges and mid lake rock humps. Jerk baits, swim baits, and Bulldawgs are all getting results. Northerns are being caught on swim baits, weedless spoons, and spinner baits in just about any weed bed. Larger northerns are working the deepest edges of the weeds.
Look for crappies to be scattered over large weed beds and suspended over deep mud. Slip bobber rigs with crappie minnows are best, but fan casting with Beetle Spins or Road Runner Jigs is also very effective.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

July 15

Daytime Walleyes

FROM: Bruce Becker

Daytime walleyes in the summer can be the best bite of the year! Right now the best walleye fishing is between 10 AM and 2 PM!
We are doing extremely well on deep rock humps in the middle of the day. 15 - 24' rock bars are best. If the rocks are vacant we are finding fish in the deep weed edges. Green cabbage in about 12' of water or deeper are producing as well.
Slip bobbers and leeches ar working best.
A complete article on this deadly summer technique will be in an upcoming issue of the Border Bulletin! These are monster walleyes that many times are a fish of a lifetime for my clients. We are having a hard time finding smaller fish for a fish fry!
For more information contact Bruce Becker at 906 358 0995, or his cell at 715 360 6001

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

JuLY 10, 2011

Summer patterns are in place with water temps staying in the mid to upper 70's. Insect hatches are continuing, weed beds are up in most places, and spawning cycles are complete. An abundance of forage has made fishing difficult at times but overall fishing has been good. Look for stable weather patterns to also trigger a consistent bite.
Walleye are still feeding heavily on mayflies and young perch. Deeper weeds and deep submerged logs along steep shorelines have provided good cover for active walleyes. Leeches or crawlers have been the best bait while using 1/16 oz. Timber Jigs with a slow retrieve. Slip bobber rigs have also been working.
Smallmouth bass have been holding in a little deeper water (8 to 12 feet) over rocks and boulders. Mid lake humps and rocky points are good locations as theses fish are feeding mainly on crayfish. Craw colored crank baits, tube jigs, and Hula Grubs remain excellent baits.
Largemouth bass are very active in the weeds and in stump fields. Top water baits are good during low light or calm conditions and spinner baits or plastics work well during the daytime.
Musky fishing is improving with the warmer water and thicker weed cover. Larger baits are finally getting results when fished over large weed flats or rock humps.
Northerns are being caught in large weed beds using weedless spoons, spinner baits, and swim minnows. Deeper weeds are holding larger northerns.
Slip bobber rigs with crappie minnows are working well for crappies. Large weed flats are holding most fish during the daytime and large tree tops and brush piles are attracting schools of crappies in the evening.
Bluegills are being caught on wax worms & small ice jigs under slip bobbers. Sandy areas with lily pads are holding active fish but fish deeper adjacent weeds for the larger bluegills.
Perch have mostly been holding in about 6 to 8 feet of water with cabbage weeds. Small jigs tipped with small leeches are working well.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

June 29, 2011

Due to an over abundance of forage, (minnow and insects), the bite on most lakes has slowed down. Warmer weather and high pressure this week will most likely keep patterns about the same. Water temps are in the mid to upper 60's, but will probably rise into the 70's by the weekend.
Walleyes are mostly feeding at night on mayflies but can still be caught during the day with jig and leech combos and a very slow retrieve. Deep weed edges and break lines are the best locations. Crank baits are still best for night fishing.
Fishing for smallmouth bass has been fair with most active fish still feeding on rocky flats or mid lake rock humps. Tube jigs, crankbaits, or jig and grub combos have been best!
Surface lures cast into stumps and lily pads is a great way to catch a big largemouth bass. Texas rigged plastics used with a slow retrieve is also very good. Look for fish to move into deeper weeds during daytime hours.
Crappie fishing has been fair with most fish being caught in large weed beds. Crappie minnow and slip bobber rigs are the most conventional way to catch these fish, but fan casting with Road Runner jigs or Beetle Spins is also very effective.
Northerns have been the most active of all species. Casting spinner baits or weedless spoons across weed tops is a very effective method.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

June 21, 2011

Thunderstorms, rain & wind are in this weeks forecast, making it hard to get out on the water. If you can get out between raindrops, fishing should be pretty good for most species. Water temps are holding in the mid to upper 60's and insect hatches continue across most lakes.
Walleye fishing has been fair considering the over abundance of forage. Walleye have been feeding aggressively on may flies, mainly over mud flats and weed beds. Jig and leech combos or slip bobber rigs with leeches are working the best. Fishing at night with crank baits over the mud flats is also very effective.
Smallmouth bass fishing has been good with most fish being caught on rocky points and rock humps. Crayfish crank baits, tube jigs and Hula Grubs are all good bait choices.
Largemouth bass are being caught in shallow stumps and lily pads during low light conditions and deeper weeds during bright daytime conditions. Use surface lures (frogs, poppers, and buzz baits) in the shallows and spinnerbaits or plastics in the deeper weeds.
Musky fishing has been heating up this last week with most fish relating to large weed beds and deep weed edges. Small to med. size baits are still getting the best results.
Crappie fishing has been fair with most fish being found in large mid lake weed beds. However, there are some fish still being caught in brush piles and drowned tree tops. Slip bobber rigs with crappies minnows are working best.
Northerns are still very active in most weed beds. Spinner baits, weedless spoons and swim minnows are all working well.
Bluegills are being caught in shallow sandy bottom areas around lily pads. Slip bobber rigs with wax worms have been best, but fishing with a fly rod & poppers cam be a lot of fun.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

June 14, 2011

Last week's weather was very unstable with record high temps one day & record low high temps set on the next. Water temps jumped up 20 degrees and then dropped back to the low 60's.A more stable weather pattern is predicted for this week which should improve fishing.
Walleye fishing is fair with more small fish being caught. Mud flats and weed beds will be the best locations for finding walleyes this week as insect hatches will be taking place in these areas. Jigs and minnows are still working, but leeches will be the bait of choice as the hatch continues.
Small mouth bass are very active on rock humps and rocky shorelines while feeding on crayfish. Small crayfish crank baits, Hula Grubs, and tube jigs are working well.
Large mouth bass are being caught in lily pads & stumps using spinner baits, buzz baits, and Texas rigged plastics. Adjacent weed beds are also holding bass during bright midday periods.
Smaller stick baits and swim baits are working well for musky while using a slow retrieve. Most green weeds are holding active musky as well as some shallow rock humps.
Crappies have moved out into mid lake weed beds and can be caught using small crappie minnows and slip bobber rigs. Fan casting over the weed tops with Beetle Spins or Road Runner Jigs is also very effective.
Northerns are being caught in the weeds using weedless spoons or spinner baits. Deep edges of the greenest weeds are holding the biggest fish.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

June 7, 2011

Above normal temperatures have raised surface water temps into the upper 60's & low 70's. Spawning cycles are just about done for most species which will create more stable & predictable patterns. Weed growth & insect hatches are also continuing nicely. Look for low pressure systems moving through the area to be the best bite.
Walleye fishing has been pretty good overall, especially on the overcast days. Jig & minnow combinations have been very good in the new weeds. Jig & leech combos have also been working well on the shorelines with downed trees. Working crankbaits over large weed flats in the evening has also been good.
Smallmouth bass have been on or near their spawn beds, with the males being very aggressive. Imitation crayfish baits (crank baits, Hula Grubs, tube jigs, etc.) have been working best.
Large mouth bass are very active along stumpy shorelines and can be caught using spinner baits, brush jigs, and texas rigged plastics. Surface baits are also working well under low light conditions.
Musky fishing should really pick up now that water temps have gone up. Smaller jerk baits and swim minnows are still a good choice for June fishing.
Crappies are still very active. Most fish are being caught in mid lake weed beds with slip bobbers & crappie minnow working well.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

May 28, 2011

Cooler than normal temperatures this last week have kept water temps in the upper 50's and slowed weed growth, but fishing was still very good with some larger post spawn walleyes starting to get more active. This week's forecast is calling for warmer temperatures and warmer night temps. Once the water temps hit the mid 60's, good weed growth and insect hatches starting, fish will get very active.
Walleye fishing has been very good with jig & minnow combos still being the preferred bait. Wind swept rocks and new weed growth are the main locations to find active fish during daytime hours. Use shallow running crank baits over large weed flats at night for some larger fish.
Crappie fishing has been very good using small jigs, slip bobbers, and crappie minnows. Shoreline brush piles & tree tops are holding some very active fish, but some of the crappies are scattering out over the nearby weed beds.
Northerns have been active in all weed beds and are being caught on spinner baits, weedless spoons, and Texas rigged plastics.
Musky activity is increasing slowly with some big fish being seen following up smaller fish to the boat. Warmer water temps are needed for fish to get more aggressive.
Bass fishing is going to get interesting this week as water temps warm up. Use care in handling the bass as most fish are still spawning. Rock bars and rock humps will hold most small mouth bass with jig & grub combos working well. Look for large mouth bass in mud & stumps and use small spinner baits or plastic with a slow retrieve.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Cisco Chain Fishing Report

FROM: Tom Schwanke

TJSchwanke@gmail.com www.wildernessguideservice.com

May 20, 2011

High pressure and strong east winds dominated this last weeks weather making walleye fishing very challenging at times. A low pressure system has now moved in and made for some good changes. Water temps (mid to upper 50's) are moving up, weeds are growing, insects are hatching, and fish are biting.
Walleye fishing has really turned on with most fish being caught on jig & minnow combos. New weeds are holding most fish of all species. Night fishing with shallow running crank baits over new weeds has been very good, especially for bigger fish.
Crappie fishing has been very good with most fish being caught in downed tree tops and brush piles. Slip bobber rigs with small minnows have been best, but casting with small jig & grub combos has also worked well.
Northerns have been very active in most weed beds. Casting small spinner baits or spoons across the weed tops will produce some nice sized fish.
Warm weather is predicted to continue this next week, which should make for a great week of fishing.
Check back nest week for more info
Tom Schwanke
Wilderness Guide Service
1-715-547-6202

Open Water Fishing Has Begun

FROM: Brian Blettner

The opening weekend of Wisconsin's fishing season has come and gone once again. With a late ice-out this year and cold water temps, coupled with glass-calm water and sunny skies, results varied greatly from lake to lake. Water temperatures ranged between 39-48 degrees, depending on the particular body of water being fished. The clear, deep lakes found temps in the low 40's, which is prime spawning for walleyes, so females were almost impossible to catch. Males were being caught by anglers and many of those fish were still "milking."
Shallow, darker lakes, on the other hand, found temps in the mid to high 40's and that was a completely different ballgame. All these fish had already completed the spawn and were looking to feed to recuperate after a vigorous breeding season. Females and males were susceptible to jig and minnow combos and those who went this route found success. Fatheads seemed to be a pretty consistent favorite, but some anglers did try larger chubs and suckers to target larger fish.
Rock bars, gravel shorelines and drop-offs and green weedbeds all held fish, it just depended on the fish's attitude whether or not they would eat. For example, the fish pictured here came at 11:00 a.m. on opening morning, which was a bright, calm day and in 8ft of water. Just by the picture, it's easy to see she had just spawned a day or two before, but was now looking to eat. We pulled her off a very particular green cabbage patch that held a handful of 14"-18" males also. The water temperature was 47 degrees. The next morning, a friend and I tried a cold, clear lake where the water temp was only 40 degrees. We could honestly see fish spawning and splashing on a rocky shoreline and actually had a few come look at the jig and minnow, but would just turn around and swim away. The lakes we choose right now will definitely determine our success.
Now, by the time Michigan opens up on May 15th, all fish will be done spawning and should be pretty active on all lakes. Minnows are still the staple in cold water like this and the smaller the better to start off the season. A reluctant walleye will pass on a large minnow but may be enticed just enough to hit a smaller morsel. Another early spring favorite is throwing small crankbaits along gravel shorelines and rock bars, especially around dark. Males still hang around these areas long after the females have left and can be fooled by a well-placed Rapala. Either way, it's fun to just be back in a boat again on the open water and hopefully everyone does well in the upcoming season!
Brian Blettner

"Backwoods with Brian" Guide and Outfitter Service
(715) 891-3260
bossmans_fhf@hotmail.com
www.backwoodswithbrian.webs.com

April Showers...

FROM: Brian Blettner

It's once again that time of the year ladies and gentlemen; warming temperatures, road restrictions, vehicles parked at the end of driveways, and deteriorating ice conditions. The smell of spring is in the air, but now is the time to be extremely cautious while heading out onto the ice. I would highly suggest to not drive any vehicle on any lake at this point. Ice at the boat landings is starting to recede from shore, leaving a foot or two of open water. Luckily, ice heaves have still made driving snowmobiles and ATVs possible, and with a good 16" of ice left on the main lake, this is still safe to do. Every day of nice weather, or even showers, may change this amenity real fast though. Start to look for cracks in the ice where she may start to separate. Keep an eagle-eye out also for dark spots in the otherwise white ice that may indicate a spring and weaker ice. Eventually, the ice will turn a dark gray and that's where she starts to "honeycomb" like we like to say in the ice fishing world. This will officially mark the end of safe-ice and all we can do is look forward to getting the boat launched into some open-water again after a long, Northwood's winter.
Get out and enjoy these last couple of weeks though because this is definitely crappie, perch and bluegill time! They are cruising the shallower weed beds in search of food to fatten up and mature their eggs for the upcoming spawn. Besides using the normal minnows, waxies, wigglers, and plastics, the real advice I can give is to keep an open mind and experiment! One day, minnows will be the only thing they even look at, but then the next day, it will be waxies or plastics and so on. Play with different baits and colors to see what will work for that particular time and place. Speaking of place, never be afraid to jump around to locate schools of fish. Two weeks ago, I personally witnessed one gentleman catch a hundred crappies out of one hole and a guy next to him, within ten feet and using the exact same bait and jig, catch only ten. It's honestly a little weird how or why that happens, but that person just may have been on the right weed patch or even a spring. The point is...you honestly need to hop around until you find a little gem like that. Fish apparently move though, and that very same spot the next day didn't produce squat, but fifty yards down the weed-line...did! It's extremely humbling, but yet very cool to see how nature works like that. That's why we do this as sportsmen and it is definitely more exhilarating than sitting on a couch and pushing a button on the remote.
Sneak out and bend a few rods, but please let common sense keep us safe this time of the year!
Brian Blettner
"Backwoods with Brian" Guide and Outfitter Service
(715) 891-3260
bossmans_fhf@hotmail.com
www.backwoodswithbrian.webs.com

March 3

Late Ice Update..

FROM: Brian Blettner

Time is running out quickly to chase our regular gamefish ladies and gentlemen. All Michigan/Wisconsin boundary waters officially closed walleye and pike on March 1st. Wisconsin lakes are still open until March 6th and Michigan is open until March 15th. Panfish will continue to be open all year with 25 as a limit in any combination. I would also like to add though that panfish tend to get exploited at this time because there is nothing else to add to the frying pan, so taking 25 everyday shouldn't really be the goal to achieve. These fish are full of spawn this time of the year, so taking 25 is in fact taking hundreds out of the system. They are a riot to catch and ensuring that for the future should be in the back of our heads as sportsmen.
All lakes have easily 16"-24" of good, solid ice with zero slush, but walking conditions are dangerous. Our last nice days definitely knocked down all the snow we had on the lakes, but left behind it very slick, glare ice. I can't even tell you how many ice-creepers have been sold these last two weeks in local businesses just so no one broke a nose or bumped their noggin. Driving everywhere is not a problem, butstill be aware of any current areas where the ice will be less thick, especially in shallow water. Thoroughfares and channels between lakes and islands are definitely places to watch out for.
My next advice may seem a bit contrary to what I just mentioned, but current areas are holding a lot of the greenest weeds, and hence, more fish. It doesn't mean getting right up in channels by any means, but weed flats or mud flats in the main lake leading up into the current areas. Bays positioned around current areas are also productive, especially if we get any kind of melt-off of freshwater running into the lake. March is notorious for hot action around previously drilled holes when snow melting adds fresh, oxygenated water to the area. Jigging with waxworms, wigglers, or crappie minnows work great, as well as tip-downs rigged with a small jig and crappie minnow. I personally like a fresh crappie minnow on my tip-downs so I always have something moving around down there, adding action to the set instead of a waxie sitting motionless in the water. That's what jigging is for. Since gamefish are still an option for a week or two in places, I still can't stress enough about going smaller if the bite is tough. For instance, a few days ago I caught four pike and seven largemouths strictly on small fatheads and jigging with a waxworm. In fact, six of the seven largemouth were on the waxworms, along with a variety-pack of perch, bluegills, and crappies. Do that with an ultralight rod and 4 lb test, and that is just a riot whoever you are!
Stay safe, keep warm, and most of all...have fun!
Brian Blettner
"Backwoods with Brian" Guide and Outfitter Service
(715) 891-3260
bossmans_fhf@hotmail.com

February 3

Ice Update...

FROM: Brian Blettner

Since a month ago, ice conditions have improved tremendously. All lakes have easily 16"-24" of good, solid ice with very little to no slush. Full-size vehicles are cruising to all their favorite spots with very little difficulty. I say full-size because the snow is getting to be just deep enough that four-wheel drive is a must. The snow on most lakes is an easy foot deep, but much deeper where it's starting to drift. Going across larger lakes, like Lac View Desert or North Twin for instance, when the wind starts to make drifts as high as 2 to 3 feet, can honestly almost stop a vehicle right in its tracks. Another storm like the one we had last week that dumped 8"-10" across the Northwoods and we will be back to using strictly snowmobiles and ATVs. Of course, some people like to plow a nice road to their shack, which is certainly an advantageous perk, but that also invites company. I know of many confrontations around ice shacks this year, especially on North and South Twin. Obviously, none of us own the water, but please be respectful and leave a little space so we all can enjoy our favorite winter pastime.
On the fishing side of things, February tends to be little more difficult than in December or January. Ice depths reach their maximum for the year and the underwater world is forever encased in darkness, for at least another month or two anyway. Oxygen levels start to deplete in many areas where weeds start to heavily die off, so hotspots in December may not be so hot any longer. If you set up a tip-up and your minnow is dead within half an hour, don't even think twice about it and move! If a minnow can't survive the lack of oxygen, neither will a predatory fish. Green weeds that still produce oxygen are excellent fish holders and many times these are found wherever there may be even the slightest bit of current in that particular body of water. Panfish will frequent these spots and needless to say, so will the larger sportfish, like walleyes, pike, muskies and bass. Jigging and tip-downs with waxies, wigglers or crappie minnows will work for all panfish, while jigging and tip-ups are still key for the larger fish. One thing that has worked very well for me during later ice is to downsize my equipment and bait. When walleyes get finicky and start dropping a lot of minnows on tip-ups, downsize your hook and stick on a fathead minnow instead of the regular sucker or shiner. You'll notice less drops, more hook-ups, and occasionally some nice crappies and perch at the end of your line. A nice variety-pack always makes for a fun day on the ice.
Stay safe, keep warm, and most of all...have fun!
Brian Blettner
"Backwoods with Brian" Guide and Outfitter Service
(715) 891-3260
bossmans_fhf@hotmail.com

January 8

Ice Fishing is in full swing...

FROM: Brian Blettner

The 2010 ice-fishing season started out to be an early one this year. Many bold anglers were sneaking out on an inch or two of ice before Thanksgiving on a few shallower lakes, while deep, clear lakes were still getting boat traffic. What makes us risk life and limb and throw all common sense right out the window this time of the year? Yep, you guessed it...early-ice walleyes! There is honestly no other time of the year that these "goodies" are so shallow and yet vulnerable to be caught, and in good numbers to boot. Once that lake crusts over for the first time, the walleyes strap on the feed bag and go on quite a feeding binge to fatten up for the long winter under the ice. It's the same concept for fall muskie fishing also. The dropping water temps really trigger predatory fish into feeding while the feeding is good. Walleyes can be caught this time of the year anywhere from 2 feet of water, down to the deepest parts of any lake. No matter where you are though, good structure and cover are still a must to find. Start the day out on the deeper side of a green weed edge in about 13 to 15 feet of water and then slowly move up on top of the weeds, closer to shore as the night progresses. Walleyes will feed on the inside edges of weed beds and on top of extensive sand, rock or weed flats with the lack of ice above their heads, even in as little as 2 to 3 feet of water. It really is a very hot time of the year to be out chasing our sometimes elusive "eyes."
As December rolled around, we found very spooky and unstable ice conditions all over the Northwoods. An early December snow storm dumped around 8-10 inches of wet, heavy snow on top of our very thin ice, making conditions extremely dangerous. Lakes varied from 2 inches of shaky ice to 10 inches on some shallower bodies that froze up earlier. Many people thought that if was ok on one lake that it must be the same on another, and that was just not the case. I personally know of a few four-wheelers and shacks that went through because of this thinking. The slush that formed on many of these lakes at this time was very uncomfortable also. The snow turned into as much as a foot of slush, making the ice conditions even less desirable, until now...
The turn of 2011 has given us everything we need to launch the ice-fishing season into high gear. 30-40 degree rainy weather in late-December melted all slush and snow on all lakes and now has frozen extremely solid. Four-wheelers and snowmobiles are safe on almost all waters with 10 inches of ice being an average. As of this time, a few brave souls have ventured out with vehicles, but I personally would still hold back on that for at least another week. Very chilly conditions are making ice every day and night though and with no snow left, driving to your local hotspots is right around the corner. Just keep an ear and eye out for where vehicles are driving and I'll do the same here on my end.
Good luck, stay safe, and be respectful of other sportsmen out there!
Brian Blettner
"Backwoods with Brian" Guide and Outfitter Service
(715) 891-3260
bossmans_fhf@hotmail.com