Weather/Ice Report:

This has been the April of our cold discontent and the impacts of our frigid weather so far this month is going to last well into May, with near record late ice-outs expected across the Northland. That means if you have plans to fish open-water lakes come May 5th, that is less than two weeks away, you may want to remain flexible on where and how you fish. Maybe try a river, or bring an auger.

At this point of spring when many of Wisconsin’s lakes should be shimmering blue, especially in the southern half of the state, the reports are, as of today, none were ice free. That is NONE. This of course would not be the first time lake ice has hung on well into May. This spring is shaping up similar to 2013 and 2014, some of the latest ice-outs ever across the state, but this year might even be later. There were some lakes that were ice free by this time in the south in 2013 and 2014. The first 12 days of April were bone-chilling cold, an average of 23 degrees, a full 10 to 15 degrees below normal. The first 12 days of March were warmer at an average 25 degrees.

In some areas, ice anglers and others continue to report virtually no ice melt through mid-April. Ice melt on many lakes often starts in March, and once snow melt speeds up in April as the increasingly intense sunlight bores into the darkening ice. So far into April, many lakes remain covered in snow that reflects sunshine and protects the ice from rotting.

The good news is we have melting going on. The 10 day forecast is saying that temperatures will rise into the 50’s, even some 60’s, with lots of sunshine for the Northland. Even that is short of the number of days required to melt the snow and ice in earnest. A, smarter than I, friend of mine told me that it would take about 27 days of these higher temperature, along with some rain, to rid the lakes of ice. Let us see, 27 days from now would be the 16th of May. What is your guess?

Let’s Go Fishing

Here are the species of fish available to catch in the “QUIET LAKES”

MUSKY

The king of freshwater fish. They are the top predator and least populated fish in our lakes. Catch and release is the common practice these days. It’s known as the fish of 10,000 casts, but hiring a guide will cut those odds.

NORTHERN PIKE

Wisconsin’s second largest predator fish, second only to their relative the Musky. Pike are typically very aggressive and will feed anytime the opportunity allows. They prefer weed flats and other ambush points.

WALLEYE

The walleye is the largest member of the perch family and is often targeted for its table fare. Walleyes can be tough to find, but when they are located, they typically cooperate and bite. Bait secret: minnows, nightcrawlers and leeches, and back to minnows as the season starts and finishes.

PERCH

A small fish that most anglers seek more for the taste than the tug. Adults average 7 to 10 inches which make it a good fish for all ages to catch. Perch have a tendency to congregate in large schools making it a one-stop spot to catch your dinner.

BASS

Large and smallmouth bass are brothers, but like family they do take separate paths. We have several small backwoods lakes that offer untapped largemouth fishing, and several area lakes that offer numbers to trophy fishing for smallmouth. NOTE: the season for smallmouth isn’t open to harvest until the 3rd Saturday of June. Regulations for harvest of largemouth are different from lake to lake.

PANFISH

These fish are probably one of the most popular sport and eating fish in Wisconsin. Crappies, bluegills, and sunfish are our most common “panfish”. Probably the most targeted fish in the spring, and often over harvested. Remember to take only enough for a meal and leave some for another day.