Before the cold snap in the middle of last week, the fish were biting.
Matt Modjeski, Department of Natural Resources conservation warden for Monroe County, said fishing was good in the local area until the weather changed Thursday.
“The fishing was pretty decent last Wednesday, and for whatever reason, I’m not sure, but I imagine it was the change in weather,” he said. “Wednesday was 47 and sunny ... to the bitter cold here probably shut the fish down with the barometric pressure change.”
Since the weather change, some days are better fishing days than others, said Chris Abbott, owner of Hatfield Sports Shop.
“There’s not a lot of activity going on, but I did hear of some crappies and perch being caught on Saturday on jigs and slip bobbers with minnows,” he said. “Sunday was pretty quiet − guys were getting some fish. Some days are great and some not so great.”
Catching fish has been a challenge, Modjeski reports.
“I spent about three hours on Saturday at Lake Tomah. Quite a few fishermen were out, and there was a lot of activity ... but fishing was not good for the fishermen I checked,” he said. “The couple people I checked had some bluegills, and a few people had a few good-sized crappies, but they had to work for them. The majority of people were struggling and not catching anything.”
Nancy Steinhauer of Rosco’s Live Bait said catching bluegills, crappies and perch has been hit or miss, depending on the time of day.
“They seem to be hitting most at night,” she said. “But they will be spawning shortly.”
Red rosy minnows and grubs have been working best for bait, Steinhauer said.
Northern pike and bass have not been active, Steinhauer said, which is not unusual with this cold weather.
Modjeski concurs that northerns haven’t been biting. He suspects the weather or the lake itself for the cause.
“I’m not sure if it’s just the weather or if the lake’s changing in some way or another,” he said. “Maybe there’s more natural bait in the lake. I’m not sure, but the northern tip-up fishermen have not been doing well this year. I know the last couple of winters fishing was phenomenal ... with tip-up flags going up constantly. I think there’s more natural food in the lake itself.”
While panfish, northern pike and bass haven’t been biting, walleyes have, Steinhauer reported.
“Walleye are running in the river, and at Petenwell they’re biting,” she said.
Live bait, mostly shiners, have been working best for walleyes.
This past weekend, a walleye-only fishing tournament was held at Lake Arbutus, and the walleye were biting, Abbott said.
“A 17-inch walleye was the biggest, and we had two ... just over 15 inches,” he said.
In other outdoors news, bear tag winners have been announced.
Abbott said applicants can go online to see if they got a tag, and in about a week a tag will come in the mail.
Coyote hunters have been active, Modjeski reported. He spent most of Sunday with small game hunters.
“Quite a few people were out ... with scent trailing dogs for tracking coyotes,” he said. “I was surprised because it’s so cold, but fresh snow makes it easier for (hunters) to figure out where coyotes are going.”
This winter has been to the advantage of the coyotes with the light snow the area has received, Modjeski said. It makes it easier for coyotes to get food and to obscure their location with the lack of tracks.
Snowshoe trails in the Black River State Forest are open for hiking and snowshoeing. Staff was able to pack the ski trails, but due to a thin base in some areas were not able to set a track. Snowshoers are allowed anywhere on the state forest that is not a groomed trail.