Wisconsin ranks 2nd nationally in fishing popularity and that doesn’t change when winter seals the lakes under ice. Bayfield County boasts over 963 named bodies of water allowing fisherman a wide variety of options for style, technique and species. Ice fishing action can be fast and furious. Many lakes have public boat launches allowing easy access onto the ice.
Winter Ice Fishing in Northern Wisconsin
Crappie, bluegill, perch, walleye, northern, and bass are the most sought after species during winter months.
ICE SAFETY from the DNR – Check out these tips to increase your safety while you’re on and around the ice.
Staying Safe: the DNR does not monitor ice conditions or the thickness of the ice so be sure to check ice conditions before heading out. We hope you have a great ice fishing season, but also a safe one.
Stay on top of the ice. The DNR does not monitor ice conditions or the thickness of the ice. Check ice conditions before heading out. Make sure the ice is at least four inches thick before walking out onto it. If taking a snowmobile, ATV or other vehicle, at least five (5) inches is needed to safely travel onto the ice. Because thickness can vary across an area, check more than one spot. Remember this rule of thumb: “Thick and blue, tried and true. Thin and crispy, way too risky.”
Stay warm. Dress in layers. Wear wool hats, mittens and waterproof boots. Bring a wool blanket or sleeping bag and handwarmers for your hands and feet. Ice shanties keep the wind and blowing snow from chilling you to the bone.
Don’t get lost. To avoid getting lost on a large lake, be aware of daylight and weather conditions. Learn to use a map and compass to stay oriented.
An ice claw could save your life. Simple tools.
You can make a simple tool that could help save your life if you fall through. Drive nails in one end of two stubby dowels, drill a hole in each of the other ends and tie a rope through the holes. Keep this and a piece of rope in an accessible pocket. These tools can help yourself or others if a break through occurrs. Use it to dig into the ice and quickly claw your way out if you fall through. Once on the ice surface, crawl or roll in the direction that you were coming from and call for help or assistance.
Don’t go out alone. Head out with fishing friends. Take a cell phone if available and make sure someone knows where you are and when you are expected to return.
Be careful and safe while having fun!