The temperature is 12 degrees at 8:30 a.m. here in the Tomahawk area Thursday morning. Most area lakes have frozen over with the recent cold temps. A warm up is scheduled for this weekend, but pending any significant rain, I would think the ice will remain fine where people have been getting out already. Ice depths are ranging between two to three inches in back bays and other areas protected from the wind that kept ice from forming early. In more open parts of lakes, I'm hearing there is anywhere between a half inch to an inch of ice. Anglers will obviously want to use extreme caution if heading out on this early ice. I use an ice pick and "spud" my way out before every step - this is really important as ice depths can vary greatly depending on when the ice formed. Fish with a friend, if you can, and have a flotation device along and a pair of ice picks on hand in case you do go in. Remember, you don't need to get out very far to get in on the great walleye action that can be found this time of year. Especially if there's a layer of snow on the ice or the ice is somewhat cloudy, walleyes will move in at dusk and feed off rocks, weed lines or stumps. I've even picked up some nice fish off of a sandy bottom along the shoreline in about four feet of water where deeper water was located nearby. This time of year I will use bigger bait like shiners and suckers, however, I also like to have some fatheads in the bucket just in case the fish are finicky. Stump fields and remaining green weeds also can be great places to find active perch and bluegills during early ice. Early ice is finally here, so time to get out and enjoy some of the best walleye fishing of the season. Good luck to everyone heading out this week and weekend. Be safe, have fun, and I have been waiting to say this for a while now, enjoy your Northwoods ice fishing time.