The peak of the winter ice fishing season (and the end of the sturgeon spearing season) are about to conclude on Lake Winnebago. The second largest ice fishing event in North America, Battle on Bago, took place on Saturday.
Ice conditions are nearly ideal. Travel by car/truck is fairly easy, and most areas of Lake Winnebago can be accessed with minimal snow cover. Ice depths are typically around 20-24 inches on the main lake, but areas of subpar ice remain. These may be the best ice conditions in the last 24 months. Heavy use launches, like Merritt Street in Oshkosh or Wendt’s in Van Dyne, have taken a beating during the past two weeks. Water Clarity remains an issue in many areas of the lake, with stained water common.
The white bass have been on fire in the central portions of the lake. An area from the mouth of the Fox River (Oshkosh) to Garlic Island has been holding huge numbers of white bass. Many of the white bass have ranged from 4” to 14” in length. Mixed in these schools are solid numbers of large crappies, large perch along with some stray sauger. Bait choice varies by the day, but jigging raps or small spoons are doing great. There tends to be 2-3 large “villages” of fishermen associated with these schools. These white bass are roaming, so be prepared to make adjustments throughout the day. An aggressive jig motion (or banging bottom with a lure) will bring the fish into the strike area. Once on the flasher, move the bait up the water column, followed by a short pause and then a small quick small snap to activate the fish.
On Saturday, we fished the northern most “village” off of Asylum Bay in 15 feet of water. Once the daybreak was upon us, the white bass turned on immediately with jigging raps with no attractant. Black and Gold, clown, or pink glow were key colors. As the fishing pressure ratcheted up, the fish shut down. Being mobile allowed us to move outside the heavy traffic zones to produce additional fish.
Walleyes have been fairly absent on the central lake. What we have discovered is that many of the walleyes may already be staging near the Fox River for the spring run. The bite has been daybreak and sunset, and limits are being reported in small windows of opportunities. Some whispers that the Garlic Island area has also been producing eyes.
Very few fishermen are targeting perch currently, partially due to the Battle on ‘Bago event, where perch have minuscule impact on the event. In the next 30 days, the perch/bluegill
will start moving into the shallow areas in preparation for ice out, followed by spawn. In the meantime, perch can be found in the deep water areas, or in areas still holding vegetation (like
I have only a few tidbits for Lake Poygan this week: Overall fishing remains just OK, with
walleyes, perch, white bass and crappies the most common catches. Shallow areas have held a few pike.
The Northeast Wisconsin Sports Show will be held March 1-3 in Appleton WI at Player’s Choice. Admission is $8. I will be at the show all day Saturday, mainly at the Tommy Harris Custom blade booth (#106). I plan to stop by the Wisconsin Outdoor Fun booth also. Please stop in and say hello. This is your chance to get the Spoon Deville’s, which everyone will be chasing down later this summer. Tommy will also have custom colored Salmo Hornets, Rip shads, Flicker shads, Hot n Tots, River Rockers and other cranks.
In about a month, many anglers will be focusing on the beginnings of the open water walleye run. Every inch of snow we receive now, increases the likelihood of a positive spawn by producing better water flow once the snow melts. One thing is for certain, Spring will come
later than last year.
Weekly reports can be found at myfishingpartner.com. Have a great week and stay on top.