January ice thickens, huge walleye caught

IRON MOUNTAIN — With ice conditions becoming more stable, anglers braving the cold have been rewarded.

A 28-inch, eight-pound walleye was this week’s trophy catch, said Doug Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis.

“Most of the lakes and rivers have eight to 12 inches of ice,” Whisler said. “Quite a few pike have been caught, but they’re running on the small side. Lots of panfish,” he added.

Waxworms were working for bluegill and shiners for walleye, Whisler said.

At Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township, a 34 1/2-inch northern pike leads John Grier’s monthly contest.

“It’s so cold, not a lot of people are going out,” Grier said, noting a warm-up in the forecast for Sunday. “They’re catching a few perch,” he added.

Waxworms, wigglers and spikes are popular baits for panfish, and suckers and shiners for northern, Grier said.

Ice reports in Marinette County were averaging 10 to 12 inches, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “Always remember that ice thicknesses can vary and be sure to check thicknesses in areas that are new to you,” said Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician at Wausaukee.

Florence County snowmobile trails were open and reported in fair condition, while Marinette County trails were partially open.

The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula fishing activity:

Overall: Inland lakes have ice but caution still needs to be used because of deep snow and slush insulating most of the lakes.

Courtney Lake: In Ontonagon County had anglers fishing for brook trout.

Lake Gogebic: Anglers are fishing for walleye and perch.

Keweenaw Bay: Had no safe ice but there is a chance anglers could be out within the next two weeks.

Alberta Pond: In Baraga County had some brook trout anglers.

Lake Antoine: In Dickinson County had some ice shanties and angler activity.

Munising: The bay is ice covered and has anglers fishing close to shore near the city docks, the Sunset Motel and the Anna River access site. Ice thickness is unknown so please use caution especially off Sand Point. Ice anglers are targeting splake and Lake Whitefish when jigging small rapalas tipped with a single egg. Those using tip-ups are targeting splake with a minnow. Stay clear of thinking you can walk to Grand Island. Just because you see white ice does not mean it is safe.

Indian Lake: Was producing pike for those using tip-ups.

Manistique Lake: Was producing some nice walleye catches.

Munuscong Lake: Was producing some perch and walleye.

St. Marys River: Had quite a few ice shanties in Munuscong Bay. Most were moving around a lot because the bite was good one day but they would have no hits the next day in the same spot.