Woodland Trails: Yellow Lake is like ‘giant diamond’Yellow Lake is like a giant blue diamond nestled in the corner of northwestern Wisconsin. Many would call it the Badger State’s version of Lake Mille Lacs, which is Minnesota’s famed walleye factory.
By: Jim Bennett, Hudson Star-Observer
Yellow Lake is like a giant blue diamond nestled in the corner of northwestern Wisconsin. Many would call it the Badger State’s version of Lake Mille Lacs, which is Minnesota’s famed walleye factory.
Reports had gotten to this reporter’s desk that the walleye bite was on. With walleye dinners costing anywhere from $9 to $15 for a single fillet, it didn’t take much arm bending to get a group of people together and head north.
We arrived at Yellow Lake Lodge and tossed gear into our room at Yellow Lake Condos and began to rig up gear. With a full moon glistening over the cold, barren whiteness of Yellow Lake from our room on the lake, and temperatures dipping below zero, we knew we would have to do some hard work to be successful come morning.
Most of the walleye tip-ups were already rigged. Black nylon line with 3 to 4 foot fluorocarbon leaders were already in place. The reports told us small sucker minnows were working well in 30 feet of water off the reef in front of Ike Walton Lodge. All we had to do was find the ice shack city and get about 50 yards away and wait for flags to pop.
Driving out on the lake in my son Josh’s 4 WD truck at 90 minutes before sunrise, we found the shacks were scattered more than we had anticipated, so finding the right place was tough. We talked to several anglers already there but their reports had the walleye bite being dead for several days.
It seemed like the old story that you should have been last week had been written for us. About then, Chris LeMay from New Richmond met up with us on the lake and we headed off for another good spot for walleye on Yellow. We decided to head across the lake and fish the reef off the flats west of the public boat launch. But the ice augers didn’t want to start in the sub zero temperature.
With determination and tired arms we finally got the engines to pop and we found the deep 30-foot hole situated less than 50 yards away from the 5-foot flats. With tip-ups in place we quickly moved the second plan of attack into action. Rattle spoons tipped with minnow heads, Gemini spoons tipped with shiners were soon in the water over the 18-foot break line from heated, portable shacks.
As the sun rose in the east, the full moon set in the west, creating an eerie scene. Our only question was would the solunar fishing tables major fishing period overpower the cold front? Hours later we got our answer.
Flags that didn’t pop on tip ups were the unwelcomed answer we didn’t want. Then finally after three hours of no fish, a flag finally popped. When we got to it, the tip up was spinning way too fast for a walleye. A small northern in the deep water had fell for our small sucker minnow.
It was time for plan two. We regrouped back at Yellow Lake Condos and cooked up some food in our fully furnished kitchen. The problem was the meal did not consist of fresh walleye fillets and walleye cheek meat. From our window overlooking the lake we watched snowmobiles rip over open water in front of Yellow Lake Lodge. The cold weather was still slamming the landscape but it was time to head out for the southern shoreline and chase jumbo perch.
On this trek, Megan Schoenherr broke the ice with three small perch. With Chris and Josh punching several holes through the ice I started to search each hole for big perch while Josh set tip ups and Chris headed for the heat of his ice shack. I was lucky enough to find a few fat jumbo perch that liked my offering of a green demon lure tipped with waxies. And then they shut down just as soon as they began.
Reloading my St. Croix Legend rod with a white diamond jig and a couple of colored euro larva, I got into some fast action on a few more nice perch. The only problem was the bite was short and the temperatures continued to drop. As hard as we tried, we could not get anymore perch to bite, nor did a single walleye pop a flag on our tip ups. Cold and tired, we headed back to our room on the lake to pack up gear and head home.
We knew the perch fillets would be just as sweet as those anticipated walleye fillets but just not quite as large. I guess that’s why they call it fishing and not catching. It’s just a part of game called ice fishing.
I can compare it to the football playoffs. Not every team gets to the super bowl but we played the best game we could under those tuff conditions on the frozen tundra.