Where to Go for Frozen Lake Fun

Skating and ice fishing season is upon us

As southern Wisconsin lakes begin to ice up after Thanksgiving, eager skaters and hardwater anglers are busy sharpening blades and augers.

For skaters, there’s nothing like the year’s first weightless glide, as cold awakens the lungs and flushes the face. If you like company, try Tenney or Vilas parks. If you crave elbow room, seek out your own space. Shallow lakes like Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa—and backwaters like Cherokee Marsh—freeze more quickly than larger, deeper Mendota and Monona.

For ice anglers, there’s more to the year’s first trip than novelty: fish bite best at first ice. Gamefish are usually sought by fishing a minnow beneath a tip-up—whose flag pops up when a fish takes the bait—while panfish are typically caught by jigging small lures tipped with grubs or mealworms. Monona Bay and Cherokee Marsh off Burning Wood Way are hotspots for panfish while lakes Mendota and Waubesa produce good catches of northern pike and walleye. Check ice conditions on the D&S Bait and Tackle fishing report (244-3474), and always use caution before venturing out.

John Motoviloff is a cook, author and outdoorsman.

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