Since I have finally been able to sit for long periods of time, here are some REALLY nice pics from Saginaw Bay to gander at.
Those heading out in the cold weather are reminded of how quickly hypothermia can set it. Shivering is the body’s way of trying to generate heat. Aside from the cold that is felt and the shivering that may occur, mental function is most affected initially. A particular danger of hypothermia is that it develops gradually, and since it affects thinking and reasoning, it may go unnoticed. Anglers need to use caution and watch for signs of hypothermia.
Southeast Lower Peninsula
Lake Erie - Anglers are marking a few walleye but the bite is slow. Look for catch rates to increase in the next week or two. A few perch were still hitting off the Metro Park Marina and along the south end of the Banana Dike. Most are using tear drops with wax worms, spikes or minnows.
Detroit River - Boat anglers are still taking perch in the canals around Gibraltar. A fair to good number of perch have been caught in the first canal to the south, but many are small. In Airport Bay, small perch were caught and some pike have started to move in.
Port Austin - A few shanties can be seen out on the harbor, but not much activity.
Saginaw Bay - The better walleye bite has been in the evening. Limits were caught before the cold snap. Pine River and Palmer Roads were producing some limits of walleye anywhere from three to ten miles out on the warmer days. Walleye have been caught off White’s Beach in the Catfish Hole, three to four miles out of Linwood in 13 to 20 feet of water, off Erickson Road near the Black Hole and northeast of the Bay City State Park in 15 feet of water. There is activity at the Hot Ponds but no reports. Near Quanicassee, those fishing off Vanderbilt Park caught a few perch and speared a couple pike in 5 to 6 feet of water. At Thomas Road, anglers are heading out seven to eight miles to waters 18 to 20 feet deep however ice conditions out there are very rough. At Sebewaing, mostly small perch and a couple pike were speared in the marina. Off Geiger Road, the evening bite was best beyond the islands and in the Slot. No action at Bay Port but Mud Creek produced a few nice pike for those spearing. Small perch and the occasional pike have been taken from the river and the marina basins at Caseville.
Saginaw River - Has lots of angler activity in downtown Saginaw. Some nice walleye have been caught primarily at dawn when using blue and silver Jig-n-Rapalas. Anglers are fishing Bay City and beyond. Cass Avenue and the Independence Bridge were getting a fair amount of pressure. Walleye have been caught around Essexville and perch off Smith Park. Perch were also taken out of the Bay Aggregate cut and the marina basins in the lower river.
Southwest Lower Peninsula
St.Joe River - Steelhead fishing has been good below Berrien Springs.
Kalamazoo River - Steelhead and walleye are still hitting below the Allegan Dam.
Gull Lake - Smelt and northern pike fishing continues to be good.
Lake Macatawa - Has been slow with only a few small perch caught.
Grand River at Grand Rapids - Has open water from Pearl Street to Sixth Street and the water is clear and low. Boat anglers will need to use caution. Steelhead have been caught when long lining with spawn or white choker bags. Steelhead and walleye have been caught off both sides of the river below the Sixth Street Dam when casting rapalas or Hot-n-Tots.
Grand River at Lansing - Anglers are ice fishing on the backwaters near Grand Point Marina and they have caught bluegills and crappie.
Lake Lansing - As for pike, anglers are still taking a lot of small fish right along with the occasional keeper.
Park Lake - Near Bath, is producing some crappie.
Rose Lake - The lakes in the state game area are fair to good for pike and bluegills.
Reeds Lake - Perch have been caught on shiners or wigglers fished about 5 feet off the bottom in 30 to 40 feet of water. Crappie are hitting on shiners 10 to 20 feet down in waters 25 to 35 feet deep. For bluegills, try a #6 gold bear hook just off the bottom in 12 to 45 feet of water as the fish appear to be scattered. Pike can be found 3 to 5 feet off the bottom in 15 to 35 feet of water.
Dean Lake - Near Rockford, is producing bluegills, crappie, and perch.
Muskegon Lake - Perch have been caught in the south central portion of the lake and up near the Sand Docks. No ships have entered the lake in the last couple of weeks, and those fishing up near the channel did catch some perch. Catch rates were spotty with the better bite at mid-day. Try glow-in-the-dark or bright colored Hali jigs or Swedish Pimples with minnows, wigglers or spikes in 35 to 50 feet of water. Pike along with a few walleye were caught between Hartshorn Marina and Fisherman’s Landing.
White Lake - Yellow perch have been caught along the southwest portion of the lake including Indian Bay. Look for pike up in the narrows off Montague.
Northern Lower Peninsula
Burt Lake - Perch and walleye fishing has slowed but fish are still being caught. Moderate success for pike when using tip-ups or spearing.
Mullett Lake - Is giving up a few perch and some pike.
Thunder Bay River - Is producing some perch and a few walleye after dark.
Avalon Lake - Anglers are catching some small splake.
East Twin Lake - Fishing pressure remains low, but those going out have been catching some big perch in limited numbers.
West Twin Lake - Walleye fishing did improve on the east side of the lake in about 15 feet of water. Try small Swedish Pimples tipped with a minnow or artificial minnow jigs in perch colors. Walleye harvest on tip-ups remains slow. A few big perch along with numerous smaller ones have been caught. The lake has good ice with four to ten inches of snow on top. Not much slush either so travel conditions were good.
Lake Margrethe - Has been providing fair catches of yellow perch, a few northern pike and some walleye in the West Bay and off the middle grounds.
Higgins Lake - The smelt population is up this year and providing some good fishing opportunities. The north and northwest side of the lake are best in 50 feet of water. Yellow perch are biting but they are small. Some nice northern pike are being caught on tip-ups or while spearing off the southwest portion of the lake and off Big Creek. Lake trout have been caught in waters 85 to 110 feet deep.
Houghton Lake - Has good catches of bluegill in the East Bay and along the south shore. Good walleye action in the East Bay and off the north shore. Pike have been hitting all over the lake.
Tawas - Walleye were caught off the artificial reef before the extremely cold weather returned. Perch fishing was slow with most fish running small. Pike spearing was also slow with only a couple fish taken in 20 feet of water. Inside the breakwall, anglers speared a pike or two, caught a couple of walleye, and a lot of small perch. Some walleye were caught off Foster Road which is north of Au Gres. This is the first time in many years that good ice has been reported off Foster Road.
Au Gres - Out on the bay, anglers are going straight out from the river mouth about a mile and then either going north or south an equal distance and fishing walleye in about 15′ of water. They did good when the fish were biting.
Au Gres River - Some walleye have been caught through the ice. Many were small however some keepers have been caught.
Northwest Lower Peninsula
Torch Lake - Ice fishing is on and anglers are catching whitefish and lake trout near the drop offs.
Elk Lake - Anglers on the north side of the lake have started moving their permanent shanties over to Torch Lake. Fishing pressure near the Kewadin area has decreased over the last week as a result of fewer anglers on the ice. Those fishing near Kewadin were targeting trout and reporting moderate catch rates in 30 to 50 feet of water when using herring or spawn. Whitefish can be found just off the bottom in 85 to 120 feet of water and one walleye was caught in 35 feet of water.
Skegemog Lake - Fishing in general has been slow over the last week. Some are still fishing for perch off the Baggs Road access site as well as the northwest portion of the lake by the Narrows. Fish were caught on minnows, wigglers, wax worms or shrimp in 10 to 20 feet of water. Fish were ranging from 3 to 10 inches with lots of small ones caught. Pike spearing was slow however a couple muskie were taken.
Traverse City - The West Bay has ice in Bowers Harbor. Anglers are catching small perch and whitefish. If the cold weather continues over the next couple weeks, both bays could have ice.
Green Lake - Smelt have been caught on the north end of the lake.
Manistee Lake - In Kalkaska County, reported bluegill, crappie and perch being caught off the southeast shore.
Little Glen Lake - While there is good ice, few fish are being caught which might be due to the construction on the M-22 Bridge and or the cold weather. Some anglers have decided to remove their ice shanties due to poor fishing.
Big Glen Lake - Has good ice however there may still be some slush near Burdickville. Perch are hitting on minnows but few were caught. Some managed to catch enough for dinner when fishing off the shallows on the outer edge of the “Bowl”. Out deeper, lake trout action has started in about 90 feet of water.
Crystal Lake - In Benzie County has very good smelt action. Anglers are fishing at night with Hali jigs tipped with wax worms or red spikes in 45 to 60 feet of water.
Portage Lake - Has been hit-or-miss for perch.
Lake Missaukee - Has been fair for panfish.
Lake Cadillac - Pike have been good but the panfish bite has been slow.
Lake Mitchell - The crappie and bluegill anglers were not doing so well but the pike anglers were still taking fair to good numbers of fish.
Manistee River - Some steelhead are being caught up near Tippy Dam by those brave enough to take the winter conditions.
Hamlin Lake - Fishing has been slow however anglers able to get out to new areas are finding fish. Some anglers fishing east of the Wilson Hill Park in 7 to 12 feet of water were taking about a dozen nice bluegills per trip while others in the same area had no luck. Jigs and wax worms were the ticket. A couple walleye and some crappie were taken in 15 to 30 feet of water off Pete’s Bayou. Those fishing Lower Hamlin were finding a few fish in 15 to 25 feet of water.
Lake Gogebic - Is producing large perch, walleye and a few crappie. Bergland Bay Point and the east shore are still the hotspots.
Keweenaw Bay - Those fishing off Sand Point have caught a few lake trout, coho and lake herring. Lake trout were caught out from Jentoff’s Dock but many were small. Whitefish were caught just east of the Baraga Marina when jigging a Swedish Pimple or putting three or four eggs on a hook and laying it right on the bottom. Perch were caught between Baraga and Buck’s Marina or at the head of the Bay in 40 to 60 feet of water. No word on smelt.
Huron Bay - Is just beginning to freeze over and fishing is slow.
Indian Lake - Is producing light numbers of perch.
Michigamme Reservoir - Anglers are catching walleye.
Little Bay De Noc - Catch rates were up with anglers spread throughout the Bay area. Walleye were caught along the east bank and between the Narrows and Garth Point when jigging or using tip-ups in 17 to 32 feet of water. Some jumbo perch in the 12 to 14 inch range were also caught in the same area. Walleye were caught off Gladstone, south of the Escanaba River and around the lighthouse in waters up to 25 feet deep. The whitefish action was fair off Sand Point when jigging minnows or spawn just off the bottom in 80 feet of water. Excellent northern pike action off Hunters Point. Try tip-ups and large sucker minnows in 10 to 17 feet of water. Perch action was a bit slow but some jumbos were caught in 18 to 32 feet of water near Kipling. Patience is the key and those willing to move around and put in the time have caught fish.
Manistique Lake - Fishing has been slow.
Munuscong Bay - Catch rates for walleye slowed with the cold front. Once it warms up, look for the fish to be in the shallows.
Cedarville and Hessel - Anglers fishing Musky Bay are targeting yellow perch but catch rates depend on the temperature. Try 10 to 14 feet of water with wigglers or wax worms.
Brevoort Lake - Is producing some nice bluegill on the warmer days. Look for walleye along that east shoreline.
I had a good question the other day, and to better explain it to the author of the question, I think it will be simpler to just create a new blog topic.
Question is, “What length of rod is preferred for icing walleyes?”
Its a great question, and there really are two schools of thought to be considered while answering the question. My question back to anyone who wants to start ice fishing for walleyes is this, are you going to be fishing inside a shanty or out in the open.
The old school of thought was that longer was better, and it still holds true for those who are on a mission to stay on top of wide ranging walleyes. I have several rods that range from 36 inches to about 42 inches. Each has a different action that will accommodate different styles of lures.
Inside rods range from 24 to 30 inches. St. Croix makes some excellent choices in their Premier line-up with a 24″ medium action, to 28″ medium lights and mediums. These are supplemented with some older 26″ Genz Lightning Rods that were made by Berkley years ago, and a couple of 30″ Ugly Ice, Ugly Stiks in medium action. These I use as bobber rods because the glass really is a bit slow (action) for my personal preferences.
32 inch models are what I call “tweeners”. Short enough for most fish houses, and long enough to get the leverage out in the open. I have some older St Croix Avids in medium and heavy action for this category, but St Croix has continued the lengths and actions in the Premier series.
Several other companies will makes models that will fit into these two main categories, although you need to feel the rods first before making a decision. One problem anglers who fish the big lakes and their bays like Little Bay de Noc, Saginaw Bay, and down here out on Erie is that some companies don’t see the “big” picture. Their line-up of ice rods are designed around their own local areas, and the experts they have for input into design, really do not fit big water fishing, but rather smaller inland lakes where they fish.
Look for fast actions, that will ensure a hookset in deep water. By deep I mean 17 foot and deeper. Whenever you purchase rods, have a plan and try to say this is going to be my light spoon rod, or heavy jigging rod for big swimmers.
As always, I will preach to anyone who will listen, buy the rod first, and then get a GOOD reel to fit the weight of the rod. My favorite reel is the now discontinued Daiwa Caprice 1000. But, I have found the Abu Garcia Cardinal 300 to be an excellent mid-priced small framed reel, and this year I picked up three more Cardinals in the 301 size. They make an excellent fit for the 32″ rods. Several folks who I trust in their knowledge say that the Tica Cetus in the 50 buck range also is an excellent reel. Also, over the years, its been hard to find a better reel than the Daiwa Whisker SS 700 for anglers fishing outside and hole hopping.
… is just around the corner folks. Brought to you again for the second year in a row by the members of the Huron Valley Sportfishing Club , it will be held again at the Monroe B&T Expo Center located at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. The dates are this February 14th (9am – 8pm) and 15th (9am-5pm).
Now the ladies will probably realize that one those days is St. Valentine’s Day, while the guys will be sure to notice that is the same weekend as Michigan’s free fishing weekend. Not a problem, girls its time to show the guys some appreciation, and guys, you can take the gals ice fishing one day or the other. Seems like a win win for the guys, but don’t forget the ladies who are just as dedicated to angling as any of the guys who will be coming to check out the latest gear for 2009.
Looking at all the Vendors who will be attending this year’s 2nd annual event I can see several that will garner my attention right off the bat. I know the folks at DB Lures will be getting some of my money for the great blades they have for making my crawler harnesses, some beads and I will probably breakdown and get some trolling spoons too. Got to stop by and see Captain John Geer of Bulldog Charters.
Might have to razz him a bit, those don’t look like Ugly Stiks in those ladies’ hands while fishing on Bulldog One. If you didn’t know it, Capt John is the creator of the “Clip Catcher” , a must have for those anglers running the big boards for walleye and salmon.
For the guys who run the downriggers walleye fishing or out on Michigan’s West Coast for salmon, you have to check out the Ridgeback Rattler downrigger weights.
Also looking forward to checking out the new spoons from Warrior Lures, after Fishlander’s demise last season, it was stated on their website that they would be producing many of Fishlander’s color patterns on their walleye spoons.
The good folks at Bi-State Marine will be at the show, which is where I purchased my E-tech outboard last season for the Triton. Never did have to add oil during the whole season!
For those who want to sit down and learn more info on fishing, there will be seminars throughout the weekend on both days. I will have to ask a certain young lady where is the big water walleye fishing seminar, hmmm. But I will definitely sit down and learn some more about jigging and handlining in the Detroit River Saturday morning at 10 am. Sunday at 2pm, the trolling for muskies seminar looks interesting, given by Capt Don Miller of Motor City Muskies.
Lots more to see, and probably buy too. More blades, more beads, more spoons, more stuff for the boat, and who knows, maybe a new boat. See you out there.
How to describe the fishing the last two trips out to the bay, ugh !
Tuesday I walked out with the sled and didn’t really move around too much. Yesterday took the quad and moved to four different locations, and all we had to show for it was marking one fish for sure, and perhaps a phantom or two. We gave them the Phoebe, the Buckshot, #7 Rap, and Fireball with nadda to show for it.
All the while, Bomber is calling me from the THAT other bay, saying all I need is one more for my limit. Ugh, if there wasn’t a tournament next weekend on Devil’s Lake, I would be fishing up on the Saginaw as soon as possible.
Just to give you a little heads up, while the fishing was incredible down on Brest Bay last week, it seems as if the fishing on Saginaw continues to produce. The “Crew” landed 59 eyes in one night last week and back here off of Stoney Point guys are trekking from one group to another, asking if they are even seeing fish!
As we pulled out last night, there was a youngster loading his gear back into the garage, so I rolled down the window and gave a holler. He comes running over and gives some details into what is happening under the ice. Although I love my camera for scouting, I usually detest setting it up and using it primarily as my main fishing tool. He on the other hand was using it quite a bit yesterday, and saw tons of eyes on the screen, all just swimming by.
Call it barometric pressure or whatever, these fish were just not interested in taking baits yesterday. Prime example was me playing with a fish for a good twenty minutes. When first setting up in my hole, there it was one foot off the bottom on the Vexilar screen. I went for the subtle approach and just jiggled the rod tip above it, the fish stayed on the outside edge of the cone, occasionally coming a bit closer, but never directly below the hole. I then started to lift and jiggle, again the fish came up. I did this for 10 ft in the bottom of the column, always the fish slowing coming up to inspect, but never taking a serious interest in the bait.
Unfortunately that was the highlight of the day. While up on that other Bay, limits were being taken and the occasional Laker being landed as well.
For those South of the (our) Bay, the Lake Erie Party Store reported fishing to be just as slow, while there are rumors of fish still being caught over by Luna Pier. Starting to investigate now…….ugh.
Extreme cold temperatures last week put a damper on fishing activity for the entire state. Many anglers reported seeing fish in the holes, but nothing could entice them to bite. This is not unusual fish behavior. Whether it is the very cold temperatures or the high barometric pressure that often accompanies cold fronts, fish often quit biting during extremely cold, clear weather. Look for the bite to pick up once the temperatures start to warm back up.
Southeast Lower Peninsula
Lake Erie - Has ice and anglers are taking some walleye in Brest Bay. Most are targeting 18 feet of water when jigging small rapalas or little Cleo’s. Chartreuse and clown have been good colors as well as anything bright. Perch have been caught off the Metro Park Marina and out around the Banana Dike when using pink tear drops with minnows. Use caution near the Metro Park boat launch as the ice blew out recently and it may not be safe at this time.
Detroit River - Perch are still being caught in the canals near Gibraltar. Those fishing the first canal south of Gibraltar were catching lots of perch however many were small. Pink tear drops with minnows worked best.
Port Austin - Fishing was slow with not much angler activity.
Saginaw Bay - Fishing off Palmer Road was good before the cold set in. Walleye anglers were going south toward the Black Hole or northeast to the Catfish Hole. In general, walleye fishing was slow to fair at best throughout the inner bay. Most parties were getting a few walleyes, but it was far from a red-hot bite. They have been fishing in 17 to 20 feet of water off White’s Beach. Off Erickson Road, head out about three and half miles to waters 16 to 20 feet deep and off Linwood fish about 14 to 16 feet of water. At Vanderbilt Park, which is just east of Quanicassee, anglers have caught a few perch in about 6 feet of water or speared a couple pike. Off Thomas Road, anglers were heading out as far as seven miles to waters up to 20 feet deep however the ice out there is marginal. Others are only going out about two and half miles to the Slot and fishing in 16 feet of water and doing just as well. At Sebewaing, a few small perch and the odd pike were taken in the marina. For Mud Creek, perch fishing was slow and pike spearing was spotty.
Tittabawassee River - Had no fishing activity to report at this time.
Saginaw River - Has ice fishing from downtown Saginaw to Bay City. Some walleye were caught downtown Saginaw off Hooters’, between Saginaw and Bay City, and downstream from the Independence Bridge. The ice at Essexville and the mouth of the river is questionable and anglers should NOT try to cross the river channel.
Pigeon River - Fishing in the river and the marina basins was slow. They could see fish, but could not get them to bite.
Southwest Lower Peninsula
Kalamazoo River - Those fishing below the Allegan Dam are once again catching some walleye along with the occasional steelhead.
Gun Lake - A good spot for winter walleye is east of Murphy’s Point in 20 feet of water. Try tip-ups or jigging rapalas with minnows or spikes. Both the walleye and crappie are easier to catch after dark.
Gull Lake - Is producing good numbers of northern pike and smelt. The bays are safe for ice fishing as most have good ice now. Bluegill fishing has slowed with the better bite in the morning and just before dark.
Grand River at Grand Rapids - There is ice above the dam and open water below it. A couple steelhead were caught on jigs with wax worms. Walleye were caught behind the Post Office when using jigs with minnows, bucktail jigs or rapalas. The pond at Riverside Park is producing bluegills, crappie and pike through the ice.
Lake Ovid - Very few anglers have been out as the fishing has been very slow.
Rose Lake - The many lakes around the state game area usually provide some good pike action this time of year. Anglers will also find panfish.
Morrison Lake - Anglers are taking some bluegills, crappie and walleye.
Jordan Lake - Near Lake Odessa is serving up bluegills and crappie.
Reeds Lake - Pike were caught 3 to 5 feet off the bottom in front of Rosie’s. Perch are in 30 to 40 feet of water and bluegills in 20 to 40 feet. Try orange or brown jig heads with a spike. Some crappies were caught 5 to 15 feet down in waters 20 to 30 feet deep behind the Fire Hall.
Murray Lake - Near Cannonsburg, is producing a few muskie on tip-ups. Some are using a 12 inch decoy with the tail cut off.
Muskegon Lake - Anglers are fishing however the bite has been slow. A handful of anglers have been concentrating around the Sand Docks for perch and walleye.
Northern Lower Peninsula
East Twin Lake - The action has been slow except for some nice catches of yellow perch when jigging perch minnows.
West Twin Lake - Anglers are still targeting walleye and perch however angler pressure slowed when the temperatures dropped.
Hubbard Lake - Large pike and walleye were being caught. Perch fishing tends to pick up with the warmer weather.
Van Etten Lake - Look for perch off the YMCA Camp in 10 to 20 feet of water or pike off the Camp and Loud Island. Set tip-ups for walleye or try jigging off the State Forest Campground.
Higgins Lake - Smelt are still hitting off the North State Park, Big Creek, and south of the west boat launch in 40 to 50 feet of water. Use wax worms or perch minnows between dusk and 9:30pm and again around midnight and fish the entire water column. Smaller perch are hitting on wax worms or perch minnows between the Sunken Island and Treasure Island, off the North State Park, and in front of the Conference Center in 40 to 50 feet of water. Lake trout are hitting grey minnows or a Swedish Pimple with smelt fished just off the bottom in 90 to 100 feet of water.
Houghton Lake - Pike are hitting tip-ups with minnows. Some nice walleye were caught in the East Bay and along the north shore when jigging minnows. A handful of perch were taken on minnows or wax worms.
Tawas - Those spearing pike did very well during the snowstorm last Saturday as it seemed the weather got the pike moving. Walleye fishing has been slow with only a few taken in 10 to 20 feet of water off Jerry’s Marina. Perch fishing was also slow.
Au Gres - Most of the fishing has been in 10 to 20 feet of water off the hotel.
Northwest Lower Peninsula
Elk Lake - Anglers are fishing on the north side of the lake near the town of Kewadin but ice conditions on the rest of the lake are still questionable. The amount of snow and slush on the lake is making for difficult travel. Those fishing near Kewadin have been targeting trout with moderate luck. Most are fishing in 30 to 40 feet of water and using herring or spawn for bait. No steelhead in the creel but a nice lake trout was caught. Herring were caught on wax worms and wigglers in 30 to 40 feet of water. Most have been around 8 inches. No word on whitefish or walleye.
Skegemog Lake - Ice fishing is on but snow on the lake is deep. Anglers are fishing for perch off the Baggs Road access site as well as the northwest portion of the lake near the Narrows. Most are in 10 to 20 feet of water and using minnows, wax worms, wigglers or shrimp. The fish range from very small to jumbos. A few pike have been speared south of the river in 10 to 15 feet of water when using natural baits or artificial decoys. Fish recorded were 30+ inches. Those seeking muskie have only taken a few fish in the 40 inch range.
Traverse City - Ice has started to form around the shoreline but there is still no safe ice to report.
Little Glen Lake - Anglers are ice fishing however the bite was slow.
Big Glen Lake - Had several anglers catching perch, but not in big numbers. Most are using minnows in 30 to 45 feet of water. Use caution and avoid the east side of the lake which still had open water.
Cedar Lake - Those able to get out are still taking smelt when fishing small minnows, spikes or wax worms.
North Lake Leelanau - Snow and slush is making travel a little more difficult. Walleye have been caught however each cold front slows the bite.
South Lake Leelanau - Warmer temperatures should improve the walleye and bluegill bite.
Lake Missaukee - A few walleye were taken on tip-ups however the bite has been slow. Fish along the weed beds and drop offs.
Lake Cadillac - No shortage of ice up here however catch rates have been slow. The best thing going right now is pike fishing.
Lake Mitchell - Report slow catch rates except for some pike hitting on tip-ups.
Hamlin Lake - Catch rates have been slow. Most of the activity has been on Upper Hamlin off Wilson Hill Park. Some nice bluegills were caught in 8 to 12 feet of water but no big numbers yet. Recent snowfall coupled with strong winds has drifts as high as five feet which makes travel almost impossible. Watch for the areas with open water because of currents.
Portage Lake - Fishing has been spotty with a few walleye caught in the early morning or late afternoon. Most are jigging spoons tipped with a minnow in 14 to 25 feet of water. Pike fishing in Chassell Bay has been good most days with a few 12 pounders caught over the last week. Try a big sucker minnow on a tip-up in 6 to 14 feet of water.
Little Bay De Noc - Catch rates have increased as the temperatures climb. Anglers are ice fishing throughout the Bay and as far south as Portage Point. Warmer weather bought good walleye catches off Kipling and the mouth of the Escanaba River. Off Kipling, try jigging in 24 to 35 feet of water with Moon Shines. Near the mouth of the river, try jigging in 25 to 30 feet of water for big walleye in the 6 to 10 pound range. Perch anglers reported fair to good catch rates for jumbos in 11 to 27 feet of water when jigging minnows with orange or blue tear drops. Good pike action just south of Hunters Point in 10 to 17 feet of water. Whitefish action is just getting started off Sand Point.
Munuscong Bay - Catch rates for walleye were fantastic before the cold front came in. Since then, harvest has dropped a little and the walleye have scattered. Any location seems to be good when jigging in 4 to 6 feet of water.
Cedarville and Hessel - Anglers fishing Musky Bay were taking excellent catches of perch before the cold front came through. Catch rates have since slowed but the action was still rated as fair to good. Target 10 to 14 feet of water with wigglers or wax worms.
Brevoort Lake - Is producing some nice bluegill from the northwest corner near the campground and walleye along the east shoreline.
The best I can say is that the ice is in great shape! Also that the ice near the point is devoid of slush, but talking to some who drove out from the marina, there is some left near the launch point. These cold nights should take care of that before too long. Out past the point you can find a solid 6 inches of good black ice.
Now for the fishing report from last night………….not so good. We set up near the point, roughly the same area where I had nailed some good fish a few years ago. Zero, zip…nadda. Walked over to one shack, and stopped a respectable distance away so not to disturb there fishing, and pretty much got a sarcastic response. They had not caught any as well. After talking to some folks from Westland, then walked to where they had set up camp on the other side of the pressure crack, they had caught none as well.
Plan for the next trip is to take the quad and trike with the shanties and to stay out after dark. To bring the glow charger (Luhr Jensen Power Flash) and set up with some glow lures for the night bite.
Side note from Saginaw Bay, one group of 7 or 8 anglers limited out last night. At least somewhere the fish were biting last night.
In continuing the quest to find new lures and fishing equipment made right here in Michigan. I had the chance to talk to Tom, owner of Moonshine Lures. For walleye fisherman, the name of the company might sound familiar, as they introduced walleye trolling spoons a few years ago. There are 24 spoon patterns just for catching eyes. For the dedicated salmon angler, their spoons are already well known and established on the lure market. With 75 patterns available, those after the big fish on Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior, have plenty of choices to select from.
With winter set upon us, the topic turns to ice fishing, and Moonshine has introduced the new Shiver Minnow to compliment their 1/2 and 3/4 oz Jigging Spoons. Its the newest addition to any walleye angler who uses the swim type baits through the ice to land eyes. Its a completely different shape than those familiar with using swimmers under the ice, and even that does not completely help define its well deserved place in your winter arsenal.
Moonshine has a unique place in their share of the fishing market, they make the best glow finish that I have found available to fisherman, no matter the season or species being sought. Located in the Upper Peninsula in Perkins, these new lures were put to the test and developed right on Little Bay de Noc’s famed walleye waters.
What does the extra glow power give winter fisherman? Extended time fishing is the answer and key to putting more fish on the ice. Get that extra hour in during the early morning bite, and stay out a bit after nightfall. I had the opportunity to test the lure (Yellow Tail) while prefishing last weekend’s tournament in Wisconsin. Not entirely sure what I hooked into one night after dark, but with the way the drag was fighting, I am pretty confident that it was one of the many muskies I saw with the camera while prefishing. Whatever it was, it was more than my 10 lb leader could handle, because 4 minutes into the fight it made off with my lure.
Here are some of the finishes/color patterns available in the Shiver Minnow:
Notice how the lure looks in normal light, and once charged it can take on a completely different color. Red Grape and JJ Mac Muffin are good examples of good colors being offered below the ice no matter what the light source that is available. Whether you give the lure the gentle quiver, or the big drop and fall for calling eyes in, this lure looks to be a staple for years to come.
If you are a big spoon fan like myself, try the jigging spoons. At 1/2 and 3/4 oz, they will handle any current situation you can find. If you want a little more flutter on your fall, and the current won’t sweep your bait away, use the Walleye Trolling Spoons. Lots of color choices available there.
Where can you find them? Its the question I get all the time in emails from readers, so I made sure to include this in the piece. You can find a locale near you right on the website under the Retail Page . If you are fishing Saginaw Bay, stop in at Frank’s Great Outdoors in Linwood while you are getting your bait, and cruise through their selection or buy online.
Lots of different option wait for Michigan’s winter anglers; bluegills, crappie, walleye and pike are hitting wherever you decide to head too. Locally there are so many opportunities happening right now, Lake Erie to the east, Irish Hills to the west. For those willing to travel a couple of hours, Saginaw Bay is popping right now.
Lake Erie from 18 to 20 ft of water in Brest Bay is producing well, with reports of a 10 lber caught on Saturday. Lots of panfish being caught on Wamplers, Round, Sand and Devils Lakes. Sag Bay is producing eyes in a variety of sizes in 14 to 18 fow.
Get out, go fishing folks.
In keeping with my own little tradition of promoting Michigan made products, here is the next product and company who could be making a big hit in the winter ice fishing market:
My ice fishing tournament partner John Bacarella, along with his business partner, Phil Morse have come up with the next bright idea in fishing mobility on the ice. Together they have formed their own company, Hard Water Innovations, and their first product being introduced is the Sonic Ice Hopper. It comes in two sizes to fit the different sized anglers. Guess that’s why I am fishing the XL sized one!
The unit is a bracket that slips over the edge of a 5, 6 or 7 gallon bucket, what I call pickle buckets because you can get them for free at any local Wendy, Burger King or Mickey-D’s. The bracket is designed to hold your Vexilar or MarCum flasher, the two most popular flashers on the market. Along with your flasher, there are rod holders available that mount on the unit as well.
Lots of folks will say, “Thats a pretty neat design, but why do I need it for ice fishing?” My answer to you after using the “ice hopper” all last week in Wisconsin is MOBILITY! Instead of trying to squeeze your flasher and bucket handle all in one hand while you carry your auger from hole to hole, you simply grab the bucket and auger and go on your way to the next spot.
Made from solid aluminum, the Sonic Ice Hopper is virtually indestructible. Supported by two brackets, the rig will keep your unit extremely stable while in transit, and also protected. While diving for a perch that came unhooked in my hole on tournament day, the unit had no problem handling my lunge to get that fish before it went down the hole.
Here are several pictures of John while finishing our prefish Saturday afternoon in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Notice he has three rod holders attached to his Ice Hopper, and a MarCum LX-5 mounted for his flasher. When John and I formed our team back in August, we were a rarity in the tournament ice world, we both had our individual sponsors that we brought to the table. So while John runs the LX-5, I use Vexilar’s premium FL-20 unit.
Notice the clear plastic lens that covers the unit’s cowl, these are available for all Vexilar and MarCum flashers.
As mentioned before, mobility is the key in ice fishing, and the less work you have to do to ensure that fact, the better off you will be.
Just look at your flasher while you fish directly below you.
Edit Note: I had a great question regarding balance of the rig vs the bucket this morning (Sunday). Its hard to tell with John’s bucket being black, but there is a strap that goes around the top of your bucket and on the backside there is a pouch that flips over the edge and rests in the interior. Inside that pouch is where you store your flasher battery, which also provides your counter weight for balance. Good question Tom!