Area Report: Weather Won't Deter Anglers

February 07 , 2007
By BOB LAMB / Tribune Outdoors Editor

Despite frigid temperatures, lots of anglers are expected on the ice this weekend.

Four ice fishing contests are scheduled with a few others set within the next few weeks.

“Well, we should find out where the fish are biting after this Saturday's fishing derby on Lake Onalaska,” said Tony Christnovich, at Schafer's Boats and Bait on Brice Prairie, adding that anglers can not only buy bait, but derby tickets at his shop.

Lawrence Lake Marina and Bait Shop in Brownsville, Minn., is holding its second ice fishing derby of the year, according to co-owner Donna Boser.

“We are going to have a potluck and I am making homemade navy bean and ham soup,” she said.

Boser gave panfishing an “awesome” rating this week. Pink and white jigs tipped with a wax worm are attracting large bluegills.

Scott Gartner, at Bob's Bait and Tackle on French Island, said colder temperatures have had an effect on fishing success, but bluegills and sunfish have been biting better the last few days.

“The fish are still there, but they are biting quite a bit lighter than last week,” he said. “You wouldn't believe the difference from last Thursday and Friday to Saturday and Sunday.”

Gartner expects better fishing once the cold front sets in a couple more days and the fish adjust.

“The good news is that many people have been exploring more areas now that the ice is getting fairly strong and are coming up with new areas to get the good ones,” he said.

Christnovich said bluegill action has slowed down at Stoddard, but some very nice-sized fish are still being caught in the right spots. Smaller jigs with wax worms and red spikes have been the hot baits for panfish, he said.

Christnovich said anglers continue to catch fish at Blackdeer's off Brice Prairie, but it's hit or miss on size. However, Christnovich said he had one group of guys from Chicago who caught some very large bluegills by the fish cribs on Lake Onalaska.

“Crappies are still hitting on Swedish Pimples,” he said. “Little Cecil's have also been producing fish. Guys say they don't catch as many fish with them, but the fish they do catch are keepers.”

Gartner recommends using cameras or trying sight fishing because the fish are biting so lightly that they barely move a spring bobber.

“Watching them becomes that much more effective at this time,” he said. “Also, try giving them a little less of a jig and bait combo.

Bass and northern pike fishing appears to be improving. Gartner said both species are being caught in many places, although the best spots are Camp 22 off French Island, Lauderdale Bay in Onalaska, areas near Stoddard, and near Schafer's Boats at Bait.

Christnovich added that northern pike have been biting pretty well on Round Lake in Trempealeau and also near Council Bay on the Black River.

Iowa trout streams are offering excellent opportunities for the ice shy angler, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Meanwhile, Karen Perry, at Wild Birds Unlimited in Onalaska, Wis., urges birdwatchers to look for small flocks of brown creepers lurking on tree trunks.

“Look carefully, as they camouflage very well with the tree trunks. I see one every now and then when I'm really watching,” she said. “Try spreading some peanut butter on your tree trunks to see what kind of birds you may attract. Plus, it's a great protein source for woodpeckers and nuthatches and has never been scientifically proven to harm birds.”

Perry also recommends providing peanuts, which attract many birds. Woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and titmice are a few. Cardinals and blue jays will also come to feeders when they have a tray to grab peanuts from. However, Perry said peanuts must be roasted and unsalted.

Peanuts can be placed in mesh feeders, open trays or fly-thru feeders. Whole peanuts can also be offered,

“Blue Jays and titmice will take a whole peanut and fly off with it,” Perry said adding, that the birds hide the peanuts for later or simply eat on the run.

Perry said it is very important to keep feeders filled with feed and be sure to provide water, especially during extreme cold weather.

A fair amount of eagles can be seen near the Lynxville Dam.

Turkeys are starting to flock up in larger numbers now that there is adequate snow is on ground.

Snow is also providing excellent conditions for rabbit and coyote hunting in the area.

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