As we work our way into late season ice fishing the bite is right on track with what I’d call typical. The walleye bite is slowing down and the panfish are stealing the show. We have nearly two feet of great ice and almost no snow, so it’s a great year to own an Ice Castle! Fisherman of all types have been able to enjoy the lakes this year.
The walleye are still very catchable but the “good” reports are few and far in-between lately. Even though the average angler is only getting a couple a night, I’ve seen and heard of some very large walleye being caught (28″-30″). Any angler would be happy to call one of those a trophy! Most of the walleye seem to be coming from the outside weed edge in 18′-24′ on a plain hook and a shiner.
The walleye might be slowing down, but the good sunfish and crappie bites are popping out of the woodwork, so to speak. Even lakes that were slow earlier in the year are now doing well. 15′-20’ basin areas have been the hottest bites around. A small #10-#12 ice jig tipped with a Euro or wax worm has been all you need.
Over the past week I’ve heard of quite a few trophy sized sunfish and crappie being caught and released. Of course plenty for the pan as well, but it’s nice to hear the big ones getting let go. If we don’t release the big panfish, we won’t have big panfish… plain and simple. So take enough to eat, but let the big girls go to spawn. No one is stocking panfish, so it’s up to us to conserve. Most of the time any sunfish over 9” or crappie over 12” I catch goes back to spawn and become someone else’s trophy! If we continue this practice I have no doubt our kids and grandkids will as good or better fishing than we have!
I look forward to another great week of fishing, so get the family up here to enjoy the beautiful lakes area!