We’ve had some decent snow cover on the ice and that has gotten the Panfish and the Northern pike out of their skittish funk in Waukesha and Washington County. For specific information on where they’re biting and how to catch them, give the following fishing report a read.
Big Muskego: Action out here has slowed since the last report. A few smaller crappies and a couple bigger bluegills were reported recently to be caught in Bass Bay. Tip-up action is present on the Northern Pike and Largemouth bass up to 20”, however those who are icing fish are fishing with groups of anglers and large spreads of tip-ups. Most of the lake, including the channels, have variable ice conditions since the mid-week warm-up/rain that was experienced. Many ATV’s and snowmobiles have gone through the channel the past week including one walking fisherman.
Little Muskego: Majority of the ice is safe on Little Muskego (12” average) HOWEVER the middle (which was the last part of freeze) still only has 3-4” of ice. Last week a car went through and had to be removed. As for the fishing, as slow as Big Muskego. The walleye fishing seems to be the consistent gem right now as a few nice ones were even brought into the recent jamboree held on the 25th. That same event produced no perch or bluegills (over 7” minimum) and only 1 crappie. The Pike fishing on tip-ups has been sporadic at best, and a group of tip-ups in an area will be your best bet for action.
Okauchee: Stumpy Bay action has heated up on the panfish including bluegills and perch. Small tear drop jigs with multiple spikes seem to be working best in the 5’ range. Tip-ups have also been set up with some pretty great success on 30+” fish near the breaks. Anglers have been tipping their flags with medium to large shiners, smelt, and even hot dogs for success! Icehouse Bay has some pretty decent action as well. The Pike fishing isn’t producing sizewise, but numbers of 20-25” fish are keeping anglers running. A great tip is to make sure you’re using a fluorocarbon leader of 30-40# test in order to entice line shy fish. The breaks in Icehouse from 5-15’ of water seem to be the best.
Oconomowoc: The flags that are flying out here are producing snake-sized Northern Pike, but a couple anglers accidentally got into a slew of 30+” muskies in their spread bringing 4 of them to the surface for pictures and quickly releasing them (closed season). Panfish anglers are finding best success from 8-10am in the morning, but many anglers are sticking around and hole hoping until lunchtime. Find the weeds and you’ll find school of panfish in the 8-15’ zone. They’re a bit finicky so a spring bobber will help with bite detection when paired with a tungsten jig for getting back down to the school quickly once located.
Pewaukee: Many anglers are focusing on the fishing action near Rocky Point in the evenings. Access from the Waterfront/Smokey’s muskie shop launch has been convenient for smaller trucks/SUVs and ATV/Snowmobiles. A lot of permanents still remain to the east of the small island on the east side of the lake. There are still many headlamps and lanterns visible from the guys targeting crappies and walleyes past 7pm. Perch action during the day is present but size is generally lacking (5-7” range on average). Moving around for panfish seems to be key to getting bit consistently.
School Section Lake: Late season crappie action is starting to heat up on this lake. You may have to drill well over 30 holes to find where they’re located, but guys with a flasher are finding them the fastest. The key is, if you don’t mark them in 2-3 minutes, you might as well keep moving. Guys using tip-downs with fluorocarbon leaders (6-8#) are having good success with a large fathead or small shiner. Deadsticking a bait inside your shack while you’re jigging will turn sniffers into biters. The size is averaging 7-9” so releasing these papermouths is encouraged.
Largemouth bass and Northern Pike are still preferring the medium shiner on a tip-ups, however size is nothing to be writing about further.
Lac La Belle: The angler population seems to be diminishing out here since they put in the “ice rink” by the beach. This has pushed anglers out and away from productive shallow weedbeds. Guys setting tip-ups near the condos are still catching some nice Northern Pike for their efforts, but you may have to stay all day to get a flag or two. Guys targeting the peninsula area are catching whitebass hand over fist while jigging for walleyes and gills.
Fowler Lake: If you’re looking for some Northern Pike action in Oconomowoc, this might be the lake recently. Targeting deeper weed beds north of church point down to 15’ of water is the key right now. While 1 or 2 30+” fish have been reported, the average is more in the middle 20’s. Panfish jigging action has slowed to a hault. They’ll come up and look at your bait..even let you raise them 4-5’ off the bottom and they’ll scoot right back down to the rest of the school.
Nemahbin Lake: Since the snow fall, the snow cover has made fish less skitish on Upper and Lower Nemahbin. Action on perch, bluegill and even crappies is kickstarting right as the sun comes up in 20-30’ of water. They’re holding tight on the bottom here most days. If you’re NOT seeing them on your flasher, move up the next break 10-15’ and look for them suspended. A bit tougher to catch but you may coax a few out of a hole before you need to move on. Now is a good time to start setting up for Pike on Lower as they’ll be looking to come in and spawn near the Bark River on the west side. Catch and Release is highly encouraged to end the ice season on these fish.
Nagawicka Lake: Kettle action has become finicky on panfish, but anglers sticking with it are getting bites on top of the ice. Just have to be patient and keep working schools you are marking. The smallest ice jig in your box will work best, and a few guys are having good luck using wigglers as opposed to spikes or plastics (which were producing best a few weeks ago. Guys are catching Pike on the first drop outside the Kettle on the main lake and on the southern end of the weedbed by Milwaukee Street over the tops of the weeds.
Beaver Lake: If you’re after nice bluegills, now is the time to hit Beaver. Fish up to 9 1/2” are starting to be caught with regularity. The size, believe it or not, has diminished on this lake for gills over the past couple years, so selective harvest is encouraged. 10”ers used to be more common, and now you’re just not seeing them.
Pike Lake: Eight-14’ of water is the zone you need to be in to find the keeper gills. Horizontal jigs are producing the best right now tipped with waxies or plastics. Northern Pike action has heated up on this namesake lake–2 kids out there sat from morning-noon and had 24 flags on their 3 tip ups pulling a couple 18+” bass up for a photo and relase as well as 2 Pike over 30”. Their first time on the lake as well. There are a few perch jerkers who are remaining pretty tight lipped about their location, but they’ve been putting some consistent fish on the ice between 9-11”. If you get to know some of the familiar vehicles you might gain some insight into what time of the day and what part of the lake to hole hop on.
Big Cedar Lake: Perch and walleye seem to be the action species on this lake right now. According to one reliable source he hasn’t had luck fishing the same spot on consecutive trips, however. Focusing on similar structure seems to help but after an hour in one location, if it’s not happening, it probably won’t. Picking up and moving might seem like a lot of work but it can pay off…especially if you’re catching perch 11+” and walleyes from 15-18”. The walleyes seem to be prefering tip-ups with suckers out here at the moment and the perch (bigger ones) are enjoying small fatheads on a horizontal jig. For Northern Pike, a good day can be had if you can navigate your way up into Gilbert Lake and set up down the middle with a tip-up spread.
Chad Leton's blog is an extension of his youth guide service HookedUp101 Fishing Academy which serves Southeastern and Central Wisconsin.