As owner/operator of Late-Eyes Sport Fishing Guide Service, ICE FORCE Pro-Staffer Capt. Paul Delaney practically lives on the ice and water of Door County, Wis. No matter the season, Delaney’s clients pull big fish from the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan, including Oconto, Marinette, Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Sister Bay, the Menominee, Fox and Cedar rivers and Little Bay De Noc.
Q: Winter is cold in Wisconsin, why not take the winters off?
A: In some areas, our lakes can be ice covered for as many as five months – that is way too long to not go fishing! Give ice fishing a try this winter. I think you will enjoy this great sport.
Q: So what’s your advice for an open-water angler who is considering ice fishing, but remains a little intimated by the thought of winter conditions?
A: Ice fishing today, compared to the old days, has changed dramatically. And having the right equipment can make ice fishing more fun and productive than ever.
Companies like Otter Outdoors have made portable fish houses warmer than ever, and more spacious, comfortable and easy-to-set-up. StrikeMaster has made ice augers increasingly lightweight and easy-to-start. And MarCum’s advances in electronics make it much easier to locate underwater structure and the presence of fish.
Q: What does the Green Bay/Door County offer ice fishermen?
A: We have a world-class walleye and whitefish fishery. The walleye fishing shifts into high gear in March. The whitefish action is great throughout January and February, with 50- to 100-fish days not uncommon.
1. When fishing early ice, don’t be afraid to target shallow-water areas. Locations that had substantial weed growth during the open-water period will still have some green weeds available before the ice pack gets too thick. These areas have potential for catching walleye, Northern Pike and panfish.
2. In shallow, clear water, I would recommend using either a Sufix fluorocarbon [Product 'Castable%20Invisiline%20100%20Fluorocarbon' not found!] or monofilament line [Product 'Ice%20Magic' not found!]. But when fishing deeper water (either clear or stained) from an ice house, you’ll be able to better detect bites and get better hooksets using a Sufix braided line [Product '832%20Advanced%20Ice%20Braid' not found!] with a fluorocarbon leader [Product '100%20Fluorocarbon%20Invisiline%20Leader' not found!].
3. When jigging for walleyes, I usually use a limp, 6-pound-test, Sufix monofilament line [Product 'Ice%20Magic' not found!] with a 6-pound-test, Sufix fluorocarbon leader [Product '100%20Fluorocarbon%20Invisiline%20Leader' not found!] attached to a small barrel swivel. This will work for most walleye jigging situations, but if you’re fishing smaller, finicky fish, consider scaling down to a 4-pound-test setup.