Winter has settled into Wisconsin and the Midwest for going on two months. It’s been a tough winter with about average snowfall, but temperatures have been way below normal with Arctic blasts coming through the state every week. The average temperature this winter has been below normal almost everyday and then at night we get a few inches of fluffy snow.
This has been one of the coldest winter’s that I can remember. A week ago, the Wisconsin River froze over where I live for the first time since 1996. The Wisconsin River rarely freezes over and was frozen across past the Highway 60 Bridge and very close to the Prairie du Sac Dam which I’ve never seen before in 25 years. The cold weather has been accompanied by a few days of high pressure and high blue skies. Rarely, have I had great success ice fishing with extreme cold weather followed by a high pressure system.
But, there have been a few times when fishing has been outstanding and much of this good fishing can be attributed to a falling barometer and an approaching winter storm. Before I plan on going fishing, I always check the weather forecast and this is something that you should be doing too. If you’re on the ice early in the morning or just before or after dark, you can usually catch a few fish no matter what the weather may be outside your shelter. If you have had stable and cold weather for a few days and you hear that the weather is going to moderate with a low pressure system heading your way, make plans to go ice fishing on your favorite lake because most of the time the fish will be biting.
Almost every time that I’ve had good fishing and a consistent bite this winter, has been under the conditions I just explained. The same will also hold true for hunting. Deer, birds, and other mammals are much more active and will be out feeding in advance of an approaching storm. Another tip that can translate into good fishing is by watching the birds that you’re feeding every day. Many of us feed birds year-round and by watching when they feed heavily can help your fishing. Birds will feed heavily before a low pressure system moves into the your area and this signals to me that it’s time to go ice fishing because all fish species seem to get active and bite. The fish (no matter what species) will usually be active all day with a falling barometer and low pressure system.
Check out what the weather was the last time you had a good day ice fishing and I’ll bet that the weather was changing and a winter storm was most likely on the horizon. It can be tough enough to catch fish during the winter, so take my tip of watching the weather and trying to be on the ice for the peak bites. Another good idea is to keep a journal and every time you go fishing to keep a record of what the weather was like and any other factors that you deem important. After doing this for a while, you’ll begin to see the patterns that emerge that can often affect and help your fishing.
Locally in south-central Wisconsin the fishing has been average to good with the following good bites; brown trout are biting on Devils Lake on tip-ups and jigging with a medium fathead minnow, the perch have been on a terror on Madison’s Lake Mendota with fish ranging from 9 to 13 inches (that’s nice perch), Crystal Lake is also hot for perch and bluegills, and Cox Hollow has been producing about every fish species there is in the state. This coming week looks very cold again, but when you see a warm up and a low pressure system go to your favorite lake and good luck because the fish will be biting.
I hope that these tips will help you become a better ice angler!