Wisconsin offers free fishing this weekend

Outdoors Report

IRON MOUNTAIN — It’s free fishing weekend in Wisconsin. Anyone can fish without a license today and Sunday, but all other regulations apply.

The Homestead-Aurora Conservation Club is conducting its annual Pete “Toad” Church Ice Fishing Derby today. Pre-registered participants will be bringing their catches to the Hitch-N-Post in Aurora, Wis.

The fish, meanwhile, are more finicky than in recent weeks, but anglers are still reporting some nice catches of panfish. “There’s a lot of bluegills being caught — a little on the small side,” said Doug Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis. “Ice conditions are good,” he added.

A 36-inch northern has yet to be dethroned in John Grier’s monthly contest at Whispering Pines Outpost on M-95. “A lot of good-sized crappie are being caught,” he said.

For crappie and other panfish, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggests trying deeper water, putting a jig on the bottom and using a twitch-pause-twitch routine.

At Midtown Bait & Tackle in Channing, Bob Kennard said a few good catches have been reported in northern Dickinson and southern Marquette counties.

The Wisconsin DNR says anglers should be aware of variable ice conditions on some waters, including Lake Noquebay in Marinette County where at mid-week there was still open water on the far west end. “Anglers fishing off the Sixth Street slip on the Menominee River report catching a few keeper perch for an all day of fishing,” said Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician at Peshtigo, Wis.

The following Upper Peninsula conditions were reported:

Munising Bay: This area just recently froze, and a few anglers were heading out off the Anne River. Ice was thin and those venturing out should use extreme caution.

Little Bay De Noc: Ice conditions were improving with colder temperatures, but heavy snow cover made travel hard for many. Ice from the head of the bay south to the “Narrows” was five to nine inches thick and snow covered. The “Narrows” and areas around Butler Island have new ice and should be avoided. Although walleye catches were fair at best through the head of the bay, the best catches were reported in Gladstone out in the channel. Anglers jigged rapalas with minnows in 30 to 34 feet. Perch anglers reported good catches. Best catches were out from Brach’s Cabins in 16 to 18 feet using minnows or wigglers. Also out in the Kipling flats in 30 to 35 feet. Some limits of perch were reported. The northern pike bite was good also in Kipling. Best bets were using tip-ups with sucker minnows in 10 to 23 feet.

Big Bay De Noc: Was producing some large walleye.

Munuscong Bay: Slow action for yellow perch but there was a lot of activity. Walleye were being caught as well.

Schoolcraft County: Inland lakes here had steady fishing with a variety of fish being caught; including panfish, yellow perch, walleye and some pike.

Cedarville and Hessel: Yellow perch were starting to pop up and ice conditions were improving. Pressure was starting to pick up with those better ice conditions. Ice was about 10 inches with some spots at 12 inches or more. Anglers were catching perch between eight and 10 inches with wax worms and wigglers in 12 to 18 feet in Hessel Bay. Anglers were also catching splake this past week, but there were no confirmed harvests. Anglers spearing in Musky Bay got a few pike up to 26 inches in 12 feet of water.

Brevoort Lake: Anglers were finding northern pike, walleye and yellow perch. Try the east end of the lake with minnows.