Our last report of the year.
Conditions haven't changed much despite the up and down temperatures. Ice is solid in the shallow areas and bays, with between 8-15 inches being reported. Several reports put ice over deeper water as questionable, and if you are heading out to main-lake areas, use caution over deep water.
Panfish, both crappies and bluegills continue to bite on most area lakes. Bluegills are being caught on waxies, spikes and mousies on either a teardrop or ratfinkee jig. Red, orange and chartruese have been the hot colors. The bite is starting to pick up, and plastics are starting to catch fish.
Crappies are suspended over mid-depth water, but they are biting aggressively during a couple of time periods each day. If you find fish, but they seem a little passive, stay with it, they'll turn on eventually. Match your presentation to the activity level you find. If the fish are biting, jig for them, if the bite is slower, use set poles. Tail hooked minnows, spikes and waxies are catching the most fish right now.
Pike continue an aggressive bite, with shiners being the best bait option. A few anglers are reporting fish over 35 inches, but most fish are between 20-30 inches. Using a spinner on your leader seems to be the key for the bigger fish, as does a red treble hook. Most fish are being caught with the minnow/rig a foot or two of the bottom in weedy or marshy bays.
Walleye are starting to appear more frequently. Lac Labelle and Lake Koshkonong have both been productive. Be aware of the changing ice conditions on both of these bodies of water before you head out, current and springs can do a number on ice, and both lakes have these in abundance. Shiners and small suckers on a tip up can't be beat, but here's the tip of the week. Even if the crowd is catching fish, you'll have more success by moving away from the trucks, augers, drinking and sleds. If you can, try to figure out what type of structure and depth the crowd appears to be fishing, and find another spot like it with less, or even better, no anglers nearby. Setup there and you're likely to meet with some success.
Good Luck and Happy New Year!