The fishing remains to be excellent. In fact, I’d say it’s better than excellent. Instead of the fish slowly coming up to your bait to investigate and then maybe deciding to eat, they are simply just swimming up to your bait and eating it! There are many times when I’ll drop my lure down and 5-10 fish will race to the bait to eat it. As you can imagine, it’s quite a blast to be catching big panfish like this while sitting on the ice in your t-shirt!
Most of the nice fish I’m finding are still in 10-15 feet of water, but they are getting higher in the water column (farther off bottom). This generally means they will continue to move shallower and get more aggressive by the day. As for bait, it seems I can get away with using just about anything. Live bait or plastics are both working well. My bait of choice is still a Lindy Tungestin Toad. This bait fall fast and allows me to move quickly from hole to hole. This bait also has a wide gap hook that lets me catch big crappie and the finicky giant blue gills all with the same lure!
So if you plan to head out fishing this weekend as I do, just remember to walk out on foot and bring a friend. Even though the ice is plenty thick I like to be prepared. Remember to stay away from the edges of the lake as much as possible because they get weak the quickest. Also avoid emergent vegetation and exposed rock. This time of the year these items will draw in heat from the sun and melt ice quickly. If you use your head and stay away from these areas the ice is in great shape! Good luck!