Ice conditions starting to improve
By Jed “Big Musky” Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports and Nature Editor
A sign of just how the ice fishing season has gone to date, I opened my grub container to check on the bait the other day and found that since the last time I had gotten out several had turned into moths causing me to quickly close the container before they could escape into the house.
For the sake of anyone reading this after just having breakfast, I’m not even going to get into what the minnow container looked like after being neglected for a couple days.
After some “fresh” bait was picked up we headed out by foot on a couple different Tomahawk area flowages this past week. On Monday, Jan. 13 we set tip ups in a bay in about five to seven feet of water and fished until sunset. The ice varied from hole to hole as the first was a good solid- foot of ice and the others all had a layer of slush. Travel wasn’t too bad as there was just about six inches of snow on the surface.
Wednesday we hit up another flowage and the first crappie hole we checked no fish were found. The ice was solid but only about seven inches deep as a result of the nearby channel. We moved into a shallower muddy bay and found some nice-sized crappies that were somewhat active. Fish were caught using tip downs and crappie minnows set about three feet off bottom. The action wasn’t hot and heavy but it was enough to keep things interesting including a couple that pushed 14 inches long.
Fish were caught on jigs as well as small treble hooks. The bite slowed as the sun began to set. The last fish came as we were in the process of packing up. I was just about to grab the tip down when I saw the rod make a small bounce. Knowing that it was likely a hit I paused a moment and waited for the rod to start going down. As it did I set the hook, and after a short battle, a nice 11” crappie was pulled from the water to finish off the pile that was kept for a future fish fry.
More and more snowmobiles and ATVs have been venturing out in recent days. I would strongly encourage people to stay on marked trails if insure of ice conditions as slush could still be a problem in certain areas. Some colder weather in the forecast should go a long way in improving ice conditions. A snow storm forecast to move through Friday night into Saturday could make foot challenge a bit more of a challenge.
The good news is the conditions are much better than they were since back in November when we were fishing first ice. Hopefully going forward we can avoid hatching moths and start getting back out to some of those better spots that have yet to be fished. Go Pack Go and good luck to everyone heading out this week and coming weekend. Be safe, have fun and enjoy your Northwoods ice fishing time!