Photo by Len Villano.
With no thaw in January, ice fishermen receive a late Christmas present: hardwater fishing hot spots that firm up quickly.
All of the usual early season access areas are worth checking out, including Dyckesville, Sugar Creek, Little Sturgeon, Sawyer Harbor, Sturgeon Bay, and the protected coastal areas within Northern Door Bays and Harbors.
Some anglers have started exploring further afield, but it is definitely not recommended for those unfamiliar with the local conditions.
The list of fish species ready to be targeted is quite long.
The yellow perch action picked up where it left off in the fall, with good jigging, bobbering and rocking actions in and around weeds and mudflats. Try small to medium minnows, or jig with larval bait.
Pretty pike were also hung. Whether you’re using golden minnows, suckers, or dead bait like smelt, it’s best to spread your spikes over a large area and at varying levels, from just below the ice to mid-height on deeper water.
The best action for walleyes is still late ice cream, but some have already been hooked. Try jigging the lower foot or two early and late in the day. They will also remove a minnow from a tip-up on occasion.
As northern harbors freeze over, brown trout can be a bonus fish. Both minnows and spawning attract browns.
Next week there should be a lot more movement over the deep offshore waters, where the best whitefish action is found. If you’ve never done it before, consider joining a group to hire a reputable guide. The tips you learn will put many more fish on the ice in the future.
For those who prefer not to venture out into the big waters, crappie is available on all inland lakes, and crappie, pike, and trout can be found in the Ahnapee River.
Number of deer updated
With only a small number of bow and crossbow deer to add to the totals, the white tail deer hunters of Door and Kewaunee counties have combined to register more than 6,700 deer in the past three. months and a half.
As of Jan. 3, the numbers included 3,791 in Door County (DC) and 2,916 in Kewaunee County (KC). Of these, 2,951 were antlered males (1,742 at DC; 1,209 at KC) and 3,756 were antlerless (2,049 at DC; 1,707 at KC). Statewide, hunters had targeted more males (150,682) than antlers (148,382), for a total of 299,064.
The Door County Orange Army reported 158 deer (one dollar) during the nine-day hunt that ended Jan. 1, as well as $ 31 and 41 antlerless during the recent loading season by 10-day-old mouth and 106 deer (one dollar) during the four-day antlerless season.
This compares to 120 (one dollar) during the nine-day rifle hunt during the Christmas holidays in Kewaunee County, with 50 muzzle-loader deer ($ 21) and 90 during the four-day antlerless season. (one dollar).
An updated crossbow count for Door was 785 ($ 446) and for KC, 515 ($ 277). The archery total was 319 in Door ($ 185) and 257 in Kewaunee ($ 160).
Statewide, gun hunters added more than 20,000 white tails after the nine-day November season ended, including 6,581 during muzzleloading season ($ 2,922 and $ 3 659 without wood); 8,434 during the four-day woodless season ($ 33); and 6,109 during the holiday hunt ($ 18).
Some hunts end
Unless you have access to a crop damage tag, deer hunts are over until this fall. However, bow and crossbow deer season is extended in Door and Kewaunee counties until shooting hours end on January 31.
The end of the Canada goose season ended on January 4, and the Zone A wild turkey, pheasant and ruffed grouse hunts will all be closed on January 9. 28.
As of Jan. 1, Lake Michigan had fallen 17 inches over the past year, two inches less than a month ago. Lake levels were still one foot above the 100-year average, but 23 inches below the record high set in 1986. The water is expected to drop an additional two inches over the coming month.