Local anglers are again finding active fish.
Don Roscovius, owner of Rosco’s Live Bait, said the bite improved last week with the break from sub-zero temperatures. He said anglers caught northern pike on Lake Tomah last weekend.
“I’ve had reports of 35-inch and 36-inch northerns being caught,” he said. “As far as panfish go, a few crappies are being caught. It’s kind of a timing issue on the lake — guys doing better are fishing later in the day or early morning. The day bite is a little slower.”
Crappies are mostly being caught on jigs tipped with wax worms, Roscovius reported, with brighter colors such as chartreuse and pink working best. He said wax worms are also working for bluegills and that jigs of all colors seem to be working.
The average keeper size for bluegills is 7½ inches to 8½ inches, Roscovius said, but the bite is a bit slower than in the past.
“Last year they were catching hundreds of little bluegills, and now they’re getting more of the keeper size and less of the smaller size,” he said.
Walleyes are biting at Petenwell Flowage, Roscovius said.
“Several over the size slot limit have been caught out there − caught and released,” he said.
He had a customer report a 31-inch catch-and-release walleye. He said most are being caught with live bait − fathead minnows on a jig.
Fishermen are catching some crappies at Petenwell, Roscovius said, but more are being caught at Castle Rock Flowage.
“In the last report I got, they were in deep water ... 20 feet seems to be where they were hanging out these past few days,” he said.
At Lake Arbutus in Hatfield, the panfish have been biting, reported Chris Abbott, owner of Hatfield Sports Shop.
“The bite was good last weekend − crappies and perch anyway,” Abbott said. “I heard about walleyes getting picked up here and there, but it’s pretty quiet on the walleye front ... have northern pike here, too, but not a lot.
“As far as crappies, guys are getting them on red spikes and red rosy minnows pretty good, picking up a few on regular crappie minnows, too.
Ice depth is between 11 inches to 13 inches on the Lake Arbutus, Abbott said, and that fishermen are driving out on the lake.
On Lake Tomah, ice depths are about 18 inches, Roscovius said.
“Guys have been driving on the lake ... permanent shacks out there, a lot of people are using the lake,” he said. “Don’t know of anyone reporting any unsafe areas as far as being out on the ice. I think it’s fair to say you can probably go anywhere on the lake and be safe ... I caution people, don’t take my word for it and check your ice. … don’t just take a visual and drive out.”
In other outdoors news, Abbott reports little activity now that bow season ended on Jan. 7. However, he did weigh a 36-pound bobcat and has heard of a few others being harvested.
There remains insufficient snow to launch the snowmobile, cross country ski and snowshoeing seasons. Buckhorn State Park reports only a light dusting of snow and won’t groom ski trails until there are six inches of snow on the ground.