I am pretty sure whatever written over the past week, was probably trashed as far as ice fishing goes by last night’s howling wind. Good news for ice anglers is that there be cold temps in the forecast for the foreseeable future. Lakes that had too much snow, will have a chance to refreeze and come back with even stronger ice! Don’t forget, its free fishing weekend!
This coming weekend is Michigan’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend. For two days only, Saturday February 14th and Sunday February 15th, both resident and nonresidents can fish without a license. With that said, ice conditions have become dangerous especially in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. Many lakes have standing water and slippery conditions. The rivers are not safe for ice fishing. Conditions will only worsen with additional rain and strong winds. Those hoping to get out and try ice fishing may have to travel to the Northern Lower Peninsula or the Upper Peninsula.
Southeast Lower Peninsula
Lake Erie – Any remaining ice on the lake should not be considered as safe ice. Rain and strong winds will continue to deteriorate conditions. Perch anglers were taking a few perch in the Metro Park Marina.
River Raisin – Is under a flood warning due to an ice jam.
Huron River – Anglers have started fishing the open waters for steelhead. Try spawn, wax worms or crawlers.
Detroit River – Boat anglers should stay off the river as heavy ice flows are expected. Fish the canals or stay close to the boat ramps. Anglers were still taking a few perch in the canals around Gibraltar.
Lake St. Clair – The warm weather not only melted the snow but also opened up some cracks and areas of thin ice especially where there is a current. Conditions could be tricky by the weekend. Anglers need to use extreme caution. Fishing seemed to be better before the warm up. The nice weather had a lot of anglers out but few reports of fish caught.
Lexington – Ice conditions were deteriorating quickly. A mixed bag of perch, suckers, rainbow trout and one brown trout were in the creel this week.
Port Sanilac – Ice conditions are deteriorating quickly. No fishing activity to report.
Saginaw Bay – The ice is sloppy and will continue to deteriorate with the warm up. Anglers need to use extreme caution and watch for pressure cracks and wind direction. This report may not reflect true ice conditions by the weekend. Walleye fishing has been good with the best bite at dawn or dusk. The average catch has been one or two legal fish per angler and some anglers are getting skunked while a few others are taking limit catches. Those heading out off Pine River Road and Palmer Road were going about six miles out to the Catfish Hole. Small perch were caught closer to shore. Off White’s Beach, try 10 to 12 feet of water near the Pinconning Bar. Off Erickson Road, head three to four miles out to the Black Hole. Off Linwood, head out three to four miles. Off the Bay City State Park, go northeast to 17 to 22 feet of water. At the Hot Ponds, those wading have caught walleye and pike when casting. Off Quanicassee, pike were speared off Vanderbilt Park. For Tietz Drain and Thomas Road, walleye anglers were heading out seven to nine miles and fishing 22 to 27 feet of water.
Tittabawassee River – Ice conditions were deteriorating very fast.
Saginaw River – The ice conditions have deteriorated to the point that it is no longer safe for ice fishing.
Southwest Lower Peninsula
All lakes are unsafe! Anglers should not try to venture out on any remaining ice.
St. Joe River – Has high water levels. Steelhead and walleye anglers will need to use extreme caution. Try live baits such as crawlers.
Holland – Has open water in the channel but the piers are ice and snow covered.
Grand Haven – Had open water in the channel and an ice jam west of the US-31 Bridge.
Grand River at Grand Rapids – Water levels are coming up and there are flood warnings for certain areas. The high water could bring some steelhead up into the river. Try a big choker bag with a piece of chartreuse yarn as the waters will be murky. Anglers looking for walleye are throwing bucktail jigs with minnows off the bridge at Fulton Street.
Thornapple River – Is rising and is under a flood warning.
Grand River at Lansing – Anglers have started to buy crawlers to do some open water fishing for walleye. There is no safe ice on the river.
Red Cedar River – Is rising and is under a flood warning.
Looking Glass River – Is under a flood warning.
Lake Lansing – Has no safe ice to report. Watch the shoreline ice as it is usually the first to go in the warm and windy conditions.
Muskegon Lake – Perch fishing has been good. If the ice can hold on until the weekend, look for the action to continue. A few walleye and one brown trout were also caught. The ice was very slippery so you might want to bring along some cleats. Use caution and avoid any areas where there are pressure cracks or a current. Anglers will also want to keep a watchful eye for any boat traffic that might come through the lake.
Muskegon River – Has thawed. Look for steelhead up near the Croton Dam. Some were starting to fish for suckers.
Northeast Lower Peninsula
Mullett Lake – Yellow perch fishing has been hit-or-miss. A lot of small ones have been caught right along with the occasional keepers.
Black Lake – The lake sturgeon spearing season is over, as the final fish was taken on Tuesday of this week.
Tomahawk Flooding – In Presque Isle County has produced a few panfish and pike.
East Twin Lake – The top layer of ice was in pretty poor shape by mid week and there was plenty of water on top of the ice. Ice anglers may want to stay close to shore until cold weather can once again firm the ice back up. Some are targeting perch. They reported good days and some slow ones. Perch minnows worked best.
West Twin Lake – The top layer of ice here is also in pretty bad shape. Walleye anglers need to use extreme caution and fish the shallows until the ice firms back up. Some nice fish have been caught and those doing the best are using a plain rapala jig that looks like a minnow with no bait on it or a Swedish Pimple tipped with a minnow. Tip-up anglers are taking the occasional pike.
Higgins Lake – Still has ice but anglers are reminded to use caution and watch for pressure cracks, especially with strong winds in the forecast. Smelt are hitting on the north end of the lake. Evenings are good but some fish have also been caught during the day. Lake trout are still out in deep waters and the rainbow trout can be found in shallow waters. Perch anglers are still taking fish on the north end of the Sunken Island and Treasure Island.
Houghton Lake – Was slippery with some water on top. Anglers would be wise to wear some sort of cleats for easier travel across the ice. Walleye fishing continues to be steady off the north shore and in the East Bay. The big bluegills have started to bite. Anglers are doing well when fishing the Middle Grounds with a tear drop and wax worm. Target the weedbeds in 4 to 6 feet of water.
Tawas – Perch fishing was slow and the fish were running small. Walleye were caught over the reef. Brown trout and whitefish were caught and some pike were speared.
Au Gres – Walleye anglers heading out about three miles reported fair success. This report may not reflect true ice conditions by the weekend.
Northwest Lower Peninsula
Pickerel Lake – In Emmet County, is producing a couple nice walleye along with all the sub-legals. Early morning or late evenings are best.
Torch Lake – Had good whitefish and lake trout action. Let’s hope the ice holds.
Elk Lake – Lake trout anglers are targeting the waters off Kewadin, Gay Road, Angell Road, and the Whitewater Township Park. Trout averaging 12 to 29 inches have been caught in 50 to 110 feet of water when using minnows and jigging Swedish Pimples. Lake herring were caught on spawn in 30 to 50 feet of water near Kewadin. For whitefish, try off Kewadin, Bussa Road, and Ringler Road in 40 to 80 feet of water. No steelhead or walleye in the creel this week.
Skegemog Lake – Bluegills are starting to bite off the Baggs Road public access site in 12 to 15 feet of water. Try minnows or wax worms. A few more pike were caught over the last week. Try minnows in 12 to 15 feet of water in the flats between the access site at BaggsRoad and the mouth of the Torch River. A couple big muskie were speared off Baggs Road. For yellow perch, lots of small ones have been caught off Baggs Road when using small minnows, wax worms or wigglers. A few bigger fish in the 7 to 10 inch range were caught by those willing to put in the time.
Traverse City – With the current warming trend and strong south winds in the forecast, anglers should avoid any remaining ice on the bays.
Green Lake – Anglers are still taking smelt however the fish are small.
Big Glen Lake – The warm weather did not seem to help the perch bite. Only those willing to move around caught fish as it seems the perch were moving through the feeding areas like clockwork. Minnows are the favorite but some are biting on wigglers. The bigger fish seemed to come in 30 to 40 feet of water east of the bridge. The ice was holding however there was a good inch of standing water after the rain.
Crystal Lake – Still had good smelt action at night. Water on the ice made for slippery conditions. Bring some cleats!
Lake Cadillac – Has nothing new to report. Anglers are still taking good catches of pike and some panfish.
Lake Mitchell – The pike and panfish action has been good.
Manistee River – A couple steelhead have been caught up at Tippy Dam.
Hamlin Lake – Catch rates did improve with the warmer weather. Upper Hamlin was producing some bluegills in 17 to 28 feet of water off Pete’s Bayou. Bright colored jigs and wax worms fished just off the bottom did the trick. Pike anglers were finding a few fish when using dead smelt or live blues on tip-ups fished about halfway down in 20 feet of water off Pete’s Bayou or fish shallow along the weedbeds off Laman’s Landing. Near Lincoln Road, the crappies were just starting to show up in 32 feet of water during the day and also for a short time at dusk. They were hitting on minnows just off the bottom. A few perch were also starting to show up.
Portage Lake – The slush was 4 to 6 inches deep. Catch rates improved with small windows of good fishing in the morning just before light and an hour before dark. Walleye anglers are using stinger hooks and jigging spoons in 14 to 22 feet of water. Good pike action in Chassel Bay but the fish are small. Use minnows or smelt on tip-ups just off the bottom in 10 to 19 feet of water.
Keweenaw Bay – Lake trout anglers were doing the best out from Whirl-I-Gig Road in 220 to 260 feet of water. Whitefish action was steady with some nice catches in 80 to 105 feet of water east of the marina at Baraga. Perch were found north and south of Baraga in 30 to 60 feet of water. Smelt were hitting at night between the Baraga Marina and Bucks Marina. The coho and lake herring bite were slow.
Menominee – Catch rates for yellow perch were slow this week. Some were heading out a mile or two while others just kept moving around. Most are jigging minnows but some were using other natural baits on a small jig or tear drop. Whitefish were caught about a mile out. Bluegills were caught near the mouth of the river when jigging tear drops with wax worms, grubs or mousies.
Menominee River – Steelhead and walleye have been caught near Hattie Street. The trout anglers are fishing the open waters on the Michigan side with spawn or crank baits. Walleye anglers on the Wisconsin side are jigging minnows or casting plugs. Catch rates will pick up and the browns should start to move in soon.
Little Bay De Noc – Walleye catches were fair to good with the majority of fish caught in the north half of the bay and the better catches between Gladstone and the Center Reef. In Kipling, anglers were jigging rapalas in 27 to 40 feet of water. Tip-up anglers were taking good catches of northern pike withseveral fish over 40 inches. There has been a real surge in pike catches this year, especially in this area. Walleye action was fair near the mouth of the Escanaba River when jigging rapalas and minnows in 20 to 32 feet of water. At Gladstone, walleye were caught in 25 to 35 feet of water but many were sub-legal. Good catches of jumbo perch near Kipling when jigging minnows in 25 to 35 feet of water or using tip-ups with 3 inch minnows. Several nice catches were taken off Gladstone in the same depths. This has been the best year in some time for jumbo perch. Pike spearing was good off the “Buckeye” near Kipling in 8 to 10 feet of water and in the harbor at Escanaba in 6 to 18 feet of water. Whitefish reports remain steady throughout the bay with the best catches off Sand Point in 80 feet of water and off the Terrace Bay Inn in 45 feet of water. Recent warm weather created some water on the ice but travel was good as of this report. Warm temperatures along with rain this week could change ice conditions in a hurry.
Munising – Anglers going out in the bay need to use extreme caution as conditions here can change rapidly. There were reports of coho and lake trout caught in Trout Bay. Fishing off Powell Point was slow with only a few whitefish and some burbot taken at night. Off the Anna River and the City Dock, a few whitefish, splake and burbot were taken. One coho was caught out from the Sunset Motel. For Sand Point, a few whitefish, splake and some lake trout have been caught.
Munuscong Bay – Walleye catches are still good when jigging minnows in 3 to 5 feet of water. Those targeting walleye are picking up some nice perch as well. Other good locations to try include Grassy Island, Roach Point and Steamboat Island.
Cedarville and Hessel – Musky Bay is producing a limited number of large perch along with lots of small ones. Try minnows or wigglers in 12 to 14 feet of water. Look for perch in 5 feet of water in the Moscoe Channel and around Little Joe Island.
Brevoort Lake – Reports are still coming in of some nice bluegills caught near the campground and along the east shoreline. Some nice perch were caught along the south shore and the walleye were hitting at night.