I took a look at some ice today on the popkos loop. Fishermans was empty, I tried to walk on the ice and went through a couple times before I could get any deeper than my knee boots. Water looks to be at full pool, so I was unable to cruise the shore to get to where I would actually want to fish this time of year anyways. Sturgeon bay had a bunch of trucks, lots of guys fishing there, I didnt get out to check the ice but I might check it out after the weekenders go home. Also saw some guys fishing north of sturgeon, they must be accessing from a private point.
I am up until Thusday so i will probably wait a few days to hit the TFF, I found ice as thick as 8" on some natural lakes in the area, most places had 5-6". I even drove my atv on one lAke this evening.
MOON PHASE (61%)
My youngest son Tom and I spent the last 9 days hunting deer in Vilas and Iron county, many of the deep water lakes were still open as of yesterday. A friend with a place on the flowage reported 4 " of ice in front of his place but said a neighbor not far away had his dog go thru the ice. My middle son Jack is currently fishing a mid sized area lake he said the ice is safe, it makes me nervous, I'll be glad when he's home later tonight.
Any ice fishing should be done with extreme caution personally I wouldn't recommend it the upcoming forecast is mild for the next several days.
Meant to post a report the last week I fished but ran out of time, fished Nov. 2nd left hurriedly the next day for Minnesota hunting. It was one of those throw your gear in the truck and go years. Fortunately two things in my life fairly well organized are my hunting and fishing gear .
The last week of fishing saw some good walleye days and a couple mediocre days I also had a musky trip the 2nd to last day I fished. It is true late season is the best time to catch a big one but it is often not a numbers game. We had one big fish hooked briefly in an area of the flowage with great potential for big fall fish in deep water, the fish took a rubber bait but came unglued.
In general we had a great season on musky with 19 netted in only 4 full day trips,about a half dozen half day trips and some incidental catches while walleye fishing. The fish ranged from upper 20's to the biggest 45-1/2". I enjoyed the musky fishing, look forward to doing more of it, there are good numbers in the TFF. If your interest is in more action with still a good chance at a big fish I think late August/ early September is a good time to book a trip or plan one for yourself. I would bring buck tails and top waters.
Speaking of musky fishing the guy in the above picture sitting down isn't a lazy musky fisherman, rather a guy with a broken leg who endured a brutally cold day, made it a full day before his toes became numb. He vertically jigged rubber baits all day.Unfortunately they drew the only full day musky trip when we didn't boat a fish.
Another memorable last day trip was with more cold and wind, line early freezing to the rod eyes. Two long time customers brought two daughters who again fished walleyes all day on a day when I believe we saw one other boat ( many of the few boats at the landing the last week I fished were duck hunters). We did go to shore for a shore lunch, I brought extra wood and we had a foot warming fire. The young woman were impressive, had a great time and put up with fathers friends dry sense of humor. Part way through the day I asked them if they knew when he was kidding, the oldest daughter laughed and said she had known him for all thirty of her years. Woman are a big part of the future of hunting and fishing it was a pleasure to spend the day with them. Someone in a previous post mentioned wearing goggles, Tom and his daughters were down hill skiers and wore ski goggles all day, I'll have a pair for the driving snow and rain next year.
Jack just walked in, him and his friend caught 7 walleyes fishing on 2-4 inches of ice, I did dumb things too when I was young. I guess I still do but calculate the risk/ reward a little better and do them in my own company. Twice a couple weeks ago while tracking deer in Minnesota I cut a stick and followed deer across rivers in Minnesota hopping across boulders in the rapids. The down side was getting wet, wringing my wool clothes out and making it back to the truck before I froze, I didn't need to do that. I don't want to know what it feels like peering up into the light of a hole in the ice submerged under the ice or worse after dark with no light.
The day after customer had a big fish on I led oldest son to a far corner to duck hunt so he could make a safe navigation trail for after dark. Pretty hard to go back in without fishing. It took a few spots to gather 3 walleyes and a couple perch for a fish fry. I was holding out for a few mid sized walleyes, kept a 17, then a 14 then settled for a 13 wanted to have at least an hour to try for the big fish customer had on briefly. I had problems with line freezing with the walleyes but when I got to the musky fishing the temp must have dropped a half degree I tried casting rubber and had a big sucker out. The casting simply wasn't working with the ice forming, I broke one reel, switched to another rod, the electric trolling motor jammed in the up position, I believe cold related, I detached the motor and quit fishing. Sometimes the human element isn't the limiting factor stuff just doesn't function well in the cold!
The following day I had my last guide trip with a tag boat, fun bunch of guys we had a good day but the typical fall walleye bite was in suspend mode, we managed a decent catch of perch and walleyes but had to work pretty hard to catch them.
My hunting season ended yesterday at 11:15 an 8 pointer with a 21-1/2" inside spread shot in Vilas county, I was very pleased to get such a nice deer on the last day. He was 5 minutes behind a fast moving doe.
With all the snow and cold in Minnesota I had one of the funnest seasons in some time. Snow conditions were good for tracking, my favorite way to hunt. Early in the week I tracked a buck for 5 hours when I closed the distance to 75 yards I decided not to shoot. I put myself into the path of his feeding and closed the distance on the 8 pt. to 9 yards. On the drive back to camp I stopped where the phone comes in and shared the fun hunt story with my wife. She had a different take on the situation, " why don't you just shoot a deer and come home when the other guys come home". Oh?? Well it had been a very busy year. Two days later after a night of chasing females and a fight with another male (the deer I was tracking) I caught up to another 8 pointer still in his bed, he never woke up. I came home when my friends and brothers did.
I want to thank everyone who elected to spend a day in the boat with me. I've said it before I sometimes get asked about "bad customers" my response I don't get any, treat people right, show up with a positive attitude and try your hardest to catch fish and customers are happy. We don't always catch as many fish as I want but it's never from a lack of effort.
Since the musky season is over here is my "creel census" for the year. I fished the TFF sporadically all year. I live in Milwaukee and never went two weeks without fishing but never was up there more than 5 nights in a row.
My son and I caught and released 13 muskies with the first one on July 7 and the last one on October 28. We caught them everywhere from near the Turtle River to Rat Lake to Baraboo to the Flambeau river section. Here are their lengths in order (in inches). 30, 38 1/2, 40 1/2, 40 1/2, 39, 43, 42 1/2, 41, 35, 42 3/4, 29, 39, 42 1/2.
Surprisingly to me, although I used suckers all year, every fish I caught was on a lure. Not a bite on a sucker all year. I love our lake and can't wait til next year!