Musky Shop Northwoods Fishing Report: Late January

Musky Shop Northwoods Fishing Report: Late January

James Stewart January 26, 2024

Hi everybody, this is Jim Stewart with the Musky Shop Fishing Report. 

Here in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, our ice conditions are finally getting somewhat decent.  I know that sounds strange, but as we are entering the 3rd week of January, most of the lakes have 10-12 inches.  However, the bigger lakes like South Trout and Tomahawk, have sketchy ice out in the basins.  In fact, South Trout actually has some open water in the center of the lake.  So, if you are venturing to the Northwoods, you want to be careful on the bigger lakes.  The smaller lakes and the flowages are generally safe, but please use caution.  We haven’t seen anyone driving trucks yet, but side-by-sides and sleds are commonly used at this stage.  We would discourage full-sized truck use.

There is a projected warm-up coming in the extended forecast that will pick the fishing up, but unfortunately, this will not help the ice get any thicker over the next 10 days.  So again, exercise caution.  Moving on to the fishing, Oneida and Vilas Counties, the fishing has been really good on the lakes and flowages. 

Walleyes on the Willow Flowage and Rainbow Flowage have been caught in the 8–10-foot range.  Find some mud/mud flats by using your locator for the best success.  We are using a variety of minnows.  A lot of our lakes in the Northwoods have some deep weeds that can be fished in the 15–18-foot range with large and medium golden shiners, pike mix, and walleye suckers for success.

For pike fishing, tip downs have been very good using large goldens, pike mix, or walleye suckers.  Primary the bigger minnow is increasing the size of the catch.  Use tip-downs to fish shallow weeds and their edges.  Most of the pike are coming in shallow following bait fish, crappie, and panfish.  Continue fishing that 5-10 weeds chasing pike and you should have some success.

There will be some basin fish as well for walleyes, crappie, and panfish.  The crappies and panfish are likely to be in the weeds first but slide out into the basin if you aren’t having any luck targeting those deeper suspended fish in 18-20 feet.  You can catch them using tip downs, crappie minnows, large fatheads, rosy reds, and even finesse plastics.  Some of the larger panfish are even hitting medium shiners.  Once in a while, you can even tip things with a crappie or waxworm.  Jigging in the basins for pike and panfish has also been successful if you aren’t interested in using a tip down.

That’s gonna do it for this week’s fishing report.  If you have any questions, please stop by the Musky Shop or give us a call.  We have a full variety of live bait that turns over very fast and is kept is super cold well water.  We readily carry a fresh batch of minnows and would gladly help you in any way we can.  So let us serve you while you’re in the Minocqua area.

Good Fishing and God Bless,

Jim Stewart