Most lakes are providing anglers 4-6” of solid clear ice under a dusting of snow. It is STILL recommended to stay off the bigger lakes and main lake areas of lakes like Okauchee, Nagawicka, and Oconomowoc. If you want success while jigging panfish, it’s best to have your Vexilar and hole hop to keep catching them. Still, you’ll have to do a lot of sorting for bigger fish. Some big walleyes have been reported on Pewaukee on the edges of the bays but you’ll be up late to do it! Pike in shallow, 4-9’ of water, seems to be producing the most action if you’re using medium to large golden shiners. The subtle fronts moving through do not have the fishing stabilized but at least the dusty of snow will keep you upright without having to wear your ice cleats!
Big Muskego: Ice conditions on Big Muskego are averaging a solid 6" across the system. Northern Pike action has been steady on tip-ups using medium and large shiners. Fish up to 31" have been reported. A few largemouth bass (16-18") have also been caught on tip-ups and jigging. Perch and bluegill fishing has been slower lately with the passage of fronts.
Oconomowoc: Unsafe on the main lake
Pine Lake: Unsafe, but the little lake across the street has been producing small bluegills and some snake Pike action. If you’re looking to get some action you can always pair down your gear and walk through the cattails.
Okauchee: Anglers are focusing their efforts with success in Icehouse Bay and Bay 5 Where there is a solid 4 1/2-5” of ice. Bay 5 area out from the Golden mast has been producing a few low-20” pike and a couple up to 29”. No monsters yet, but there are panfish to jig in the same areas in between flags.
Pewaukee: Pewaukee fishermen got a nice Christmas present in the form of 3” of fishable ice on Christmas Day out from Smokey’s Muskie Shop and the Sports Dock. Anglers who ventured all the way to Taylor’s Bay recently were unrewarded with size but found all the 5-6” perch they could shake their jigging sticks at. A New Years Eve angler reported catching a 26” walleye at around 10:00pm. Most of the areas to the east of Rocky Point have 5-6” of good solid ice. 4-wheelers and a few smaller permanent shacks have taken up residence trying to find a consistent bite. If you’re attempting to catch walleyes and have a few flags fly, be sure to use sucker minnows and plan to stay out well after dark!
School Section Lake: Anglers were reporting consistent action for bluegills in the 6-7” category with a few 8”+ fish being caught after A LOT of jigging. This has cooled off somewhat. However, still a great lake to take kids right now as the Northern Pike will almost certainly hit shiners in 4’-12’ of water on the East end of the lake. A few crappie are also being caught just after sundown on ratfinkees tipped with spikes.
Lac La Belle: 5” of solid ice around the beach area has this area pretty busy with guys jigging and fishing tip-ups. Crappie action was fairly good around Christmas time but with the snowfall accumulated on the ice, that action has dwindled. Tip-ups are still producing some smaller Pike. One angler fishing amongst the crowd pulled a 42” muskie around mid-day. For bluegills try your best to look down your holes for sand patches in the weedbeds. The bluegills are congregated in these areas and will bolt out of the weeds for your jig. Anglers willing to get up the earliest are being rewarded before the crowd arrives. There is also one gentlemen that has been coming out past dark and has the area all to himself at night. He can’t be going out there at that time for no reason!
Fowler Lake: Anglers fishing tip-ups north of Church Point are finding action using medium shiners for 20” class Northern Pike. Perch are found off the end of the point but you need to stay mobile with your jigging in order to stay with them.
Nemahbin Lake: The upper part of the lake is still unsafe. The lower portion has found anglers catching a few smaller pike here and there. While jigging, these anglers are coming across some decent bluegills one day, only to return and not receive a bite in the same areas the next day. Again, being mobile seems to be the ticket for jigging success on Nemahbin.
Nagawicka Lake: The Kettle has been pretty disappointing so far this year. A real finicky bite exists and the fish that do commit are not much in the way of size. The marmooska/spike combo seems to be the preferred combination for crappies and bluegills. A spring bobber will pay dividends in your time invested--makes all the difference in hauling fish up your hole and “not getting a bite all evening”.
Moose Lake: Most of the tip-up action on Moose has resulted in tiny largemouth bass and smaller pike. It seems to be the theme of this report but bluegills are able to be caught on the smallest of presentations, but there isn’t much size to them. 4” of good ice exists allowing anglers to confidently move around looking for active and bigger fish.
Beaver Lake: The anglers jigging on this lake have found that the better panfish (although fewer and far between) are preferring plastics to live bait. Perch up to 11” and a few gills in the 9” range are being reported. Very few tip-up anglers are on this lake, but the largemouth bass are hitting those anglers jigging with spoons.
Lake Keesus: Anglers focusing on Bulls Bay are those who are actually icing some consistent fish. Pike are coming in numbers on tip-ups off the end of the Park Dr. point. Fish in the 20” class are being taken regularly. Aggressive hole hoping jigging anglers in this bay are the ones hooking up with panfish. Plan to drill at least 25 holes to rotate through in order to keep catching fish. You might catch up to 30 fish in order to get a meal of fish with decent size. A few anglers who live on the lake have been setting up for walleyes on the North shore just before dark. Information is pretty tight-lipped at this time.
Pike Lake: This Washington County gem finally froze over 12/22 and has an average of 4-5” of quality ice across the majority of the lake. Walleye Wednesday has started weekly out of the Reef Point resort as of 12/26 from 4:30-8:30. One nice walleye was registered the first week out of 13 anglers. Seems the walleye action (14-18” fish) has primarily been on tip-ups before and after dark. A few anglers are icing some nice perch (up to 9.5” in length). The beach/park area hasn’t been producing any size in the panfish or the Pike as of late. The fishing is atypically slow for this time of year out on Pike. A big reason may be the poor, dirty, water clarity during this early ice period. An aggressive approach when it comes to size and color of your jigs and spoons will draw fish in for a look. On an event note, the Gun Club fisheree is set to run January 27th this year out in front of Reef Point and this makes for a great time for families and kids to get out and enjoy the sport.
Big Cedar Lake: There is 6” of good ice on the entire north basin of Big Cedar. There have been a few 4-wheelers navigating this area since the first of the year and a few permanent shacks being put out. The South basin is taking a bit longer to develop ice. Fishing around the islands for perch has been slow. But prior to the fronts that moved through, a few walleyes were being reported to being caught around sunset and the bigger perch were in the clearest water you could find (*Hint go South of Gonring*) Lots of sniffers marked on the Vexilars but getting them to bite consistently just hasn’t been happening. Average perch that will commit are around 7”. Tip-up action for mid-20” Pike is coming from the remaining larger weedbeds on tip-ups just before twilight. Nabob Prairie Riders Fisheree is January 12th from 6am-3pm.
Anyone else on a hot bite in Waukesha or Washington county? Add your comments below!
Chad Leton's blog is an extension of his youth fishing guide service, HookedUp101 Fishing Academy
If you've been on a lake not listed here, share your thoughts on their conditions in the comments.