Fishing Report:

In early November anglers began testing for safe ice and did managed to find some.  Since then, more ice opportunities have arisen, mostly on smaller lakes and shallow bay areas. My rule of thumb is 4 inches of ice for is safe for walking, but it is better to have 6 inches.  Some of the small shallower lakes has that already.  It is by far the earliest ice we have experienced in a long while. Because of the frigid temperatures the newly formed ice is setting up very nicely.  We are by no means encouraging anglers to go out on the ice. This time of year it is especially important to go ice fishing with someone who understands the lake and is an avid hard water angler.  I urge people to follow some safety tips: 

Check in with bait shops, resorts and/or fishing guides

Bring a buddy just in case

Bring a spud bar and check ever few steps as you go

Stay away from anything that looks suspect

Take your time

Bring a personal flotation device, rope, ice picks and minimal amount of fishing gear

Come up with a plan in case something happens

Bring an extra set of dry clothes and towel

Keep a phone charged and in something waterproof

Let people know your plan and to check in with you often

Keep an eye on the ice for any changing conditions

Do not do something that seems iffy.  In other words, use common sense. 

On the new ice so far, good action has come from tip-up flags in 2-10 feet of water. Plan on catching northern pike during the daylight hours.  Best tactics a tip-up rigged with a leader with a red treble, split shot and large shiner or walleye minnow.  Northern will eat at all depths of a water column, but start right under the ice to around halfway down. Northern pike have eyes that allow them to look up, so putting a bait on the bottom is not good.  Having the bait right under the ice. 

Target walleyes on the bottom, but downsize live bait to a walleye sucker or a fathead when using tip-ups.  Walleyes have been active in low light times of the day. 

Fish seem to be aggressive right before sunset.  Best tactic has been jigging small  spoons with a minnow head and paying attention to your electronics. 

The 9 day gun season for deer opens Saturday, so if you are walking in the woods be sure to wear some bright orange.  We have no reports of deer being harvested this year during the archery hunt.  Hunters have passed on a lot of does and a few young bucks.  Grouse hunters has had moderate success and seeing a few birds.  Counts appears to be down from previous years. 

Whatever you do be safe out there!