While ice has built up on local reservoirs, the fishing bite has slowed down.

Fishing has been spotty everywhere, said Don Roscovius, owner of Rosco’s Live Bait.

“Everybody was hoping the snow would help and steady the barometer, but it really hasn’t done much. It’s still a pretty slow bite everywhere around,” Roscovius said. “A few bluegills, a few perch, a few northerns are being caught locally, but it’s just not been on fire. No particular baits are working any better than the other. I encourage people to keep on trying.”

Dennis Schnitzler, owner of Schnitzler’s Sports Store in Sparta, said it’s the time of the year when fishing slows down.

“People are catching, but sporadic,” he said.

Matt Modjeski, Department of Natural Resources conservation warden in Monroe County, agrees that fishing has cooled off locally. While the bite is not consistent, he said fishermen are catching bass, bluegills, crappies, perch and northern pike.

In Hatfield, Chris Abbott, owner of Hatfield Sports Shop, said people are still catching plenty of fish but said “the mid-winter blues,” when all fishing slows down, is coming.

“Walleyes are still biting. They’ve slowed down a little bit after the rain and high water, but they’re picking back up now,” Abbott said. “Guys are still catching crappies, mostly little ones, 8-9 inches range, with the occasional 10 inchers, but they’re not getting much of those ... most guys are running with regular crappie minnows, red rosy minnows. I got a report of a guy trying jigging with a spoon with a couple red spikes when he couldn’t get any (crappies) on minnows. Waxies also work some days if they’re not interested in minnows.”

Walleyes are also biting, Abbott said. Fishermen are typically using tip ups with shiners and sucker minnows.

Schnitzler said fishermen are also using and catching on artificial bait brand B-Y Baits and are catching bass with fathead minnows and shiners.

Ice depth at Lake Arbutus is 16 inches to 18 inches, Abbott reports.

“It’s good ice, and (fishermen) are driving trucks and everything now, it’s pretty solid,” he said. “I’m glad we got this cold weather before we got a bunch of snow.”

It has been a crazy year for ice, Abbott said. This winter was the earliest ice has come in years, and people were ice fishing by gun season, he said. After the early ice, there was rain and a warm snap that lasted for about three weeks before a cold snap came and made more good ice.

Ice depths at Lake Tomah is about a foot or higher, Roscovius said.

“I’m hearing it’s all above 12 inches now,” he said. “Where we were having 8 inches mid-week last week is now 12 inches, so the minimum is 12 inches that I’m hearing right now.”

In other news there will be a walleye-only fishing derby/tournament on Lake Arbutus Saturday, Jan. 26 from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets to participate cost $10, which also enters the contestant into door prizes.

All snowmobile trails remain closed in Monroe, Juneau and Jackson counties after Tuesday’s snowstorm was less than advertised. Snowmobile trails in far northern Wisconsin are finally reporting good conditions, especially areas along the Michigan border.

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.


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