by Jeff Winters
With the arrival of March signaling the end of the game fish season in many parts of Wisconsin, ice fishermen begin to turn their attention towards serious panfishing. Here in the township of Boulder Junction in Northern Wisconsin lies an ice fishing paradise for these late-ice tasty treats. With 194 lakes within a nine mile radius of town and some of the finest panfish waters in the state within its boundaries, Boulder Junction should be a main destination for you.
Located a few miles south of town and nestled in the heart of the Northern Highland State Forest is one of the more famous waters here in Boulder Junction and in the state of Wisconsin for that matter, This lake is called Allequash lake.
Allequash Lake is a relatively small water and easy for the ice fisherman to navigate. This water is known for it’s big bluegills and crappies. The lake is split into two sections, upper and lower Allequash, which spreads out fishing pressure on this water. Lower Allequash averages 5 to 7 ft. deep and is full of nice weed beds. This lower section is very popular for big gills. You will also find schools of crappie hanging out in this part of the lake although they won’t run as large as the ones found in Upper Allequash. Lower Allequash gills will commonly run around the 10-inch range while crappies in this part of the lake generally reach a maximum of about 11 inches. Upper Allequash will also hold many gills, but the crappies are Number One in this part of the lake, with 12 -14 inch fish being fairly common. When fishing Upper Allequash, concentrate your efforts on the north part of the lake. This area of the lake is one large weedbed.
Little John Lake is located a few miles south of Allequash and is another one of the small, easy-to-navigate waters that is thriving with panfish. Here on Little John, perch and crappie will provide anglers with the action that they are seeking. Little John is a weed-related lake and the large weed beds on the southern end of the lake are where you’ll want to concentrate your efforts. Perch in the 8 to 11-inch range are the most common sizes found and Little John also holds those big slab crappies in the 12 to 14 inch range. This is a sheltered little water and can provide you with good fishing under any conditions.
Another wonderful bluegill water is located just to the east of town. This lake is Partridge Lake and is well known throughout the area for holding big bull bluegills. This is another small, easy-to-navigate water with abundant weed beds found throughout. Partridge lake is another of those waters that will produce 9 -10 inch Gills with consistency.
To the west of town you’ll find Fawn Lake, one of the best late-ice crappie lakes in northern Wisconsin, Fawn is part of the Manitowish Chain. Fawn Lake is yet another of the small, easy-to-navigate waters in the area and holds abundant weed beds. The Number one species in this water is crappie and LOTS of them. The time to be on this lake, are those warmer days when the snow is melting and the water is running into the holes. These types of conditions will normally trigger a spectacular crappie bite on this lake. Fish ranging in the 11 – 12 inch bracket are a common size caught here. Concentrate your efforts in the weedbeds found on the southern end of the lake. We have found over the years that a small ice jig in a yellow chartreuse and orange color and tipped with a small piece of pork rind will work very well for hoisting fish through the ice. Bluegills are also found in Fawn Lake although they are not as big as what you’ll find in Allequash or Partridge, but you’ll still find some keeper gills to through into your creel.
To the southwest of town is Upper Gresham Lake. This water is a fairly large water with abundant structure. Weed beds and gravel bars are located throughout this lake and if you’re looking for Action, Upper Gresham contains huge populations of all panfish species. While you’ll have to do quite a bit of sorting, you will find some nice sized fish along the way. Upper Gresham is a wonderful action water and this is a great lake to take kids ice fishing as action is usually hot and heavy and will come fast enough to keep the kids entertained.
A couple miles west of town is another decent panfish lake called Little Crooked. This is a small lake with abundant weedbeds and will provide you with a lot of action on bluegills. This lake also houses some large crappies although numbers are not as great as in some lakes. If you get on them, you will find crappies in the 12 to 15-inch range in this water. You’d have to consider Little Crooked one of those sleeper lakes that takes very little pressure and houses some very nice fish.
An added bonus to the Boulder Junction area is a great little lake located just south of town, a little north of Allequash, which is called Escanaba Lake. Escanaba Lake is a Department of Natural Resources experimental study lake. This study has been running for 50+ years and this lake has no season, size limit or bag limit on fish caught within its boundaries. This allows anglers to come up and fish walleyes and northerns during a time when fish are active and most inland waters are closed to these species. The main panfish present in this water are perch so this allows you to do some jig fishing as well as tip-up fishing. Escanaba houses some very nice perch in the 9 to 12-inch bracket. Escanaba Lake does not have a lot of weeds beds but is rock and timber oriented. Concentrate your efforts on looking for this type of structure. When fishing Escanaba you must check in at the contact station located on the lake and at this time you can obtain a contour map of the lake which will show you where the structure is located. Escanaba is a GREAT lake to watch as ice begins to leave. If you get anxious in April to do some open-water fishing, and have the opportunity – when the ice leaves the lake, the walleye fishing is spectacular, and remember, no size limit, bag limit or seasons apply to this water.
When it comes to fishing the Boulder area, you’ll find that the most difficult part of your trip isn’t catching fish but deciding which lake to fish. With the quite peaceful surroundings found in the Boulder area I’m sure you’ll not only have a successful trip, but one worth remembering. A true Northwoods experience!
If you would like more information on fishing the Boulder Jct area feel free to contact Jeff Winters 715-385-9313 or E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org.