Recent cold temperatures improved ice conditions on the area lakes. Most of the lakes have between 5-8” of ice. The conditions are great for walking. There has been some ATV travel, but not recommended. Some areas on large, deep lakes (Pine, Nagawicka, Okauchee, Oconomowoc, Geneva) may have recently froze over (or still open water) and may only have 1” to 2” of ice. If venturing out to unfamiliar areas, use a spud bar to check the ice as you walk out. Wear a life jacket or floating suit, safety picks, and bring a throw cushion. Avoid areas near springs, current, and ice heaves.
Bluegill action is best around green weeds in 5 to 12 feet of water. There are some lakes in the area where the gills were found in 20 to 30 feet of water. A flasher is needed to catch these fish as often they are suspended off the bottom. A spring bobber, light 1# to 2# test line, and a #12 to #16 sized ice jig must be used to entice bluegills. Tungsten style ice jigs were preferred while fishing deeper water. Waxworms, Red or White Spikes, and Wigglers work best for live bait. Ice plastics such as Wedgies, Beaver Tails, IJO Plastics, Ratso tails, and TJ’s Plastics worked as well. Aggressive bluegills hit small jigging lures such as T-Rips, Little Cecils, #3 Rippin Raps, and 1/32 oz Kastmasters tipped with red spikes.
Crappies are most active during early morning hours or just before dusk. Look for them suspended above weeds or wood in 8 to 15 feet of water or suspended over 20-30 feet, often just a few feet below the ice. Using tip downs with a #14 treble hook baited with a Small Fathead, Rosy Red or Lake Shiner minnow work best. A size #8 Rocker, Moon, or Ratfinkee ice jig baited with a Wiggler, Wax Worm, or Ice Plastic work as well. Small jigging lures such as a Lil Cecil, T-Rips, Forage Minnow, Swedish Pimple, Jigging Rapala or Rippin Rap produced aggressive crappies. Present your bait above the school as crappies feed up.
Perch are found in 8 to 15 feet of water over sand flats with scattered green weed clumps, near the bottom. Hali jigs, Kastmasters, Slender Spoons, Swedish Pimples, or 4mm Tungsten jigs loaded with spikes or a piece of minnow have produced. Tip-ups or tip-downs rigged with a 4# fluorocarbon leader, #14 red treble hook, baited with a medium lake shiner, large rosy red, or fathead minnow produces larger perch.
Northern pike will be found around shallower weed beds. Tip-ups rigged with a 40# fluorocarbon leader, #6 or #4 treble hook and baited with a large or jumbo golden shiner or medium sucker will produce the most action. Using Dick Smith’s leaders with beads or small spinner blades along with DK’s Magic powder on the tail of the minnow work great as added attractants. Place your bait just above the tops of weeds for best results. Brined jumbo smelt on a smelt rig can also work great, especially for big pike.
Walleye fishing was best fishing shallow during dark hours and deeper during daylight hours. Tip-ups rigged with a fluorocarbon leader, #10 or #12 treble hook, and baited with a minnow will work best. Walleyes prefer a medium golden shiner, baby chub, small sucker, two large fatheads or rosy red minnows. Jigging with a Jigging Rapala, Rippin Rap, Shiver Minnow, Slender Spoon, Kastmaster, or Swedish Pimple tipped with a minnow head will attract aggressive walleyes. As a reminder, all Waukesha County lakes have a minimum length of 18” with 3 daily bag limit for Walleye (exception Lac LaBelle – 28”)
Please practice Catch and Release for the Future of Fishing
Becky Smith & Mike Smith