This has not been a great start to winter fishing. Most of our area lakes as far north as southern Wisconsin have little to no ice, which is unusual for this time of the season.

Lake Geneva still has ramps open in Fontana and open water to fish with your boat, if you’re willing to dress for it. The unstable weather has made even those lakes with some ice very dangerous, with a lot of soft spots.

The edges of a number of our lakes are very soft, and anglers are using 4-foot to 6-foot long 2X6s to span the soft ice at the edge. The worst part is that the conditions change rapidly with the weather. We have two days of temperatures in the 50s, and then it drops 20 to 30 degrees and rains or snows.

Most area bait shops are your best bet for the daily status of the ice. Just be careful, and don’t go out on the ice alone. Use a spud stick to test the ice as you go.

If ice fishing is not your thing (it’s not mine either), there is a great place to spend some time where it’s warm and dry this winter.

The Chicagoland Fishing Expo comes to the Schaumburg Exposition Center Jan. 23-26. This show is one of the best in the Midwest. It’s relatively inexpensive as shows go; parking is free; and all the major manufacturers of fishing tackle, electronics and terminal tackle are there to share what’s new for 2020 and beyond.

It is also a great show to shop for your summer fishing vacation; there are representatives of resorts from all over, offering opportunities to fish for almost any fresh water fish you’d like. This show offers a chance to try out that new fishing rod you’ve been looking at, the new reel, and that new upgrade to your electronic. It’ also a great place to build that wish list. I’m heading out there on the 25th, and maybe I’ll see you there.

Here’s wishing you a healthy and happy 2020.

Until next time…keep a tight line.