IRON MOUNTAIN - Ice anglers have begun taking shacks out on area lakes, and some vehicle traffic is being reported, although it is not recommended with the varying ice conditions throughout the region.
"There haven't been many guys going out the past week," said John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost. "Had a couple guys catch some crappies, and there's been a few northern caught. But nothing real big."
Bob Kennard at Pat Carey at Midtown Bait and Tackle in Channing also reported a slow week.
"A few walleye were caught on Way Dam," he said. "Most are targeting panfish. Lakes in southern Marquette County were producing. Bluegills were still biting on Sawyer Lake."
Tom Bean at Crystal Bait also mention a couple of walleye being caught.
"Nothing overly exciting yet," he said.
A "lot of ice" was reported by Don Ciochetto at the Sport Shop in Iron River.
There were some nice walleye on a couple of lakes," he said. "Some bluegills being caught. Things seem to be picking up."
A couple dozen shacks have popped up on Lake Antoine where Dean Lindblom's Country Bait and Tackle reports fishermen taking good size northern and lots of panfish.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported this week that ice conditions have vastly improved on lakes across the state, as the rain and mild temperatures melted most of the snow from the ice surface. With the insulating snow layer gone, this has allowed the slush and water layers to freeze and has created a fairly smooth and slick ice surface on most waters.
Ice depths have also begun to increase with the lack of snow cover and thickness now ranges between 8 and 12 inches. The first vehicles have been observed on a few waters, but caution is still urged as ice depths continue to be quite variable across many lakes.
Walleye and panfish have been the main species of interest and anglers report sporadic action. The best walleye success has been on small to medium sucker minnows fished near break lines in five to 10 feet of water. Panfish anglers continue to see more consistent action with some good success for perch reported on northern lakes.
Pattie Teske at Florence Sport and Bait said anglers are catching fish.
"Had a guy the other morning with a limit of northern, bluegill and crappie," she said. "Not much to report on walleye, but panfish are hitting well on area lakes."
Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment reported the following:
Munuscong - Perch fishing is good off Grassy Island, the middle of the Bay and in Fowlers bay. There are shacks out on Musky Bay and Hessel Bay, but extreme caution needs to be used. The ice is still not consistent and can change from 8 to 12 inches down to 2 or 4 inches instantly, which has happened in unusual places.