Editor’s note: Following is a report from Rice Lake Tourism, with fishing tips provided by Jordan Marsh of Marsh Outdoors.
With another mild week in front of us, the lakes won’t be making much ice, but it sure is nice to be out fishing and being comfortable. This seems to be a trend in the last few years that we are not able to safely drive vehicles onto the ice until later in January. It seems like the time of year that driving on the lakes is safe, but please use extreme caution yet, as a vehicle and a snowmobile went through this weekend on separate bodies of water. I still would not recommend any travel with vehicles on the lakes other than snowmobiles, 4-wheelers and UTVs. Ice depths vary greatly from lake to lake and sometimes area to area. Be safe, be smart, and use all necessary precautions to make sure you come home safely.
The walleye bite has slowed down for both jigging and tip ups. After the first of the year it always gets tougher to find these elusive fish as they slide into deeper water and spend less time in the shallows feeding until the ice goes out. Right now I like to work over deeper water adjacent to the structure the fish have been catching in the last few weeks. They are still around, they just make a move into deeper water areas. I like to drill a series of holes and hop around with a jigging rod and a spoon tipped with a half of minnow. I give each hole only a few minutes of time as usually you will catch those fish in the first minute or two of dropping down. It takes work to keep moving but it’s how you find them and stay on top of them.
Bluegills and crappies are starting to really infiltrate the deep water basins. Many fish will hold in the weeds and on woody debris for the first part of winter but many are starting to hide in the open water now. In the clear water lakes the crappies are hitting in low light conditions, but on some of the stained and murky lakes you can catch them during the daylight hours as well. I really had to downsize jigs the other day to get all panfish to eat. Sometimes they will eat what you throw at them, and other times you really need to find a specific color or size they will eat. Downsizing my presentation worked great and I was able to start catching one after the other with the right size lure tipped with a waxie.
Good luck fishing and remember, introduce someone new into the outdoors. They will appreciate it for a lifetime.