Ice Fishing in Pepin County
Ice fishing is a true northern pastime. Whether you bring along your own heated enclosure with a cooler of drinks and comfy seats, or you just plan on drilling a hole in the ice and dropping a line (maybe an overturned bucket as a seat until you can fill it with your catch), ice fishing is a fun way to spend a clear winter day. It’s always best to talk to the locals, bait shops are a good place to start when trying to learn where the ice is thick and the catch is good. If venturing out on the ice on your own, drill as you go, is a good piece of advice to monitor the ice thickness.
Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River and borders the western edge of Pepin County. If you’re looking for panfish (particularly Perch), Walleyes, or Northern Pike, Lake Pepin is a good choice. Where in the summertime, a point is a good spot to put in a line, in the winter it’s a warning that there may be a creek inlet and moving water. Those become spots to avoid as the ice may be thinner. The area by Stockholm and the Pepin Marina are both popular ice fishing spots.
Crappies may be the fish to go for when out on Silver Birch Lake, southwest of Durand. Bluegill is also plentiful but they tend to be on the smaller side. The lake is 145 acres and has an average depth of 8 feet. The bag limit for panfish is 25 with no minimum length and can make for a fun day out on the ice, especially with kids. You can access the lake via Silver Birch County Park – Holden Campground.
Dead Lake is a backwater of the Chippewa River just south of Arkinsaw, WI. It’s a popular spot for ice fishing and you will find access to the lake off of Highway N. Fishermen report you can catch your limit in perch in the 10-13 inch range. Not bad at all if you’re lucky enough to find out that’s true. The western shore is pretty accessible and easy to fish from.
If you want to give ice fishing a try, but you’re not sure you’re ready yet to commit to getting your fishing license, although Wisconsin makes it pretty tempting with inexpensive one-day licenses or discounted “first-time” fishing licenses, you may want to give the Free Fishing Weekend a try. Every year on the third full weekend of January all the waters in the state of Wisconsin are open to fishing for free. It’s the perfect time to get out and see just how much fun ice fishing can be.