At this time of year we should be just about ready for the winter sports, but with the weather we have had it looks like it still a little ways off. We have had some ice and some snow and had the feeling winter was on the way, but the weather continues to be confusing. Our open water season is basically over for the year. Anglers still can get out if they really wanted to and you would be all by yourself on the lake. We only assume that the walleye are biting, but have no reports from anyone as anglers were concentrating on deer hunting over the last week.
Maybe it is time to start preparing for the ice fishing season. We all look forward to the early season for walleye fishing as the ice starts forming on the lakes, but early ice can be dangerous. Anglers should have to spud or auger your way out as you approach first ice to check the thickness. When you can get out, look for the deep edge of the weeds and set your tipups in the afternoon and evenings on those edges. This will catch those walleye as they move shallower in the evenings to feed in the weeds. The greener the weeds the better, as those green weeds hold more baitfish. Usually anglers prefer shiners or fatheads for bait, as they have a little more visibility than other minnows. At the start of the season the best times seem to be early evening through about 8:00 PM.
When fishing with tipups with thinner first ice, locate yourselves on the shore side of the tipups while waiting. The fish are sensitive in the early season to movement and noise on the ice. Drill a few extra holes so you do not have to be drilling later when the fish are moving in and scaring them away. After dark, move the tipups into the weeds to get those fish who have moved past your bait.
You will find some perch mixed in with the walleye early also, so it may be worthwhile to rig for these fish and jig for them. It is too early right after ice up to get out deep enough to look for crappie. The crappie are in deeper water now and anglers will be fishing them in deeper water as the ice thickens.
The gun deer season ended last Sunday and reports from the hunters were not good. Plenty of does and yearling around, but very few bucks. Most of the deer harvested this season was smaller bucks. Maybe the bigger ones will come out for muzzle loader season which started this week. Figures released by the DNR reports that the harvest is down by 6% from last year.