Archive for December, 2009

Happy New Year, and your Michigan DNR Fishing Report

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year for 2010. If you plan on going ice fishing, use caution, some areas are better than others this time of the year, and always bring your spud at first ice.

Ice conditions around the state are spotty. Some inland lakes have enough ice to support foot traffic only. Anglers are advised to keep snowmobiles, quads and other large vehicles off the ice. There have been various reports of anglers, snowmobiles and large vehicles going through the ice in some locations. Anglers heading out are reminded to use extreme caution. 

Southeast Lower Peninsula
Lake Erie - Ice anglers were starting to catch a few jumbo perch around the Banana Dike but caution needs to be used and travel should be restricted to foot traffic only. Those fishing in the Metro Park Marina were catching bluegills on spikes or mousies. Anglers are reminded to use the Lee Road entrance.Huron River - Those fishing the deeper holes were still taking a couple steelhead. Try spawn, wax worms or crank baits.Port Austin - Had no safe ice to report. The piers were ice covered and dangerous.Saginaw Bay - Strong northwest winds have created open water once again. Ice anglers will need to wait for safe ice to form. That could happen by the weekend if temperatures stay cold and there is little to no wind.Saginaw River - Ice was forming however there was open water near the mouth.Southwest Lower Peninsula
St. Joe River - Boats trolling from the mouth to the Berrien Springs Dam are still taking some walleye. Most are using fathead minnows.Van Auken Lake - Ice anglers were fishing the channel only. Ice on the lake was not safe as of this report. Bluegill and crappie were caught on wax worms, spikes or mousies.Grand River at Grand Rapids - Steelhead are being caught on jigs with wax worms or pink and white spawn. Walleye were hitting on bucktail jigs, rapalas and minnows.Rogue River - Was also producing some steelhead.Grand River at Lansing - The walleye action over at Moore’s Park was slow however fish were still being caught.Red Cedar River - Was producing a few pike.Lake Lansing - Ice anglers are catching small bluegills and a few perch.Muskrat Lake - Ice anglers are catching bluegills and crappie.Muskegon Lake - Had a few anglers fishing bluegills in shallow waters in the northwest corner of the lake. Boats still able to get out were launching from Hartshorn Marina and catching perch on minnows or spikes.Muskegon River - Anglers were still catching a few steelhead near Bridgeton, especially when the water levels came up after the rain.White Lake - Ice anglers are targeting bluegills near Wesley’s Marina. Pike anglers were starting to use tip-ups in the northeast section of the lake near the narrows.White River - Steelhead were caught up near Pines Point Campground.Northeast Lower Peninsula
Inland lakes in the Grayling and Mio area as well as Roscommon and Kalkaska County are frozen over with thin ice. Some have been getting out by foot but caution needs to be used. 

Alpena - Ice was starting to form in the harbor however there was no safe ice as of this report.Au Sable River - Anglers continue to catch fair to good numbers of steelhead along with a few brown trout. Most are fishing the deeper holes with spawn, wax worms or artificial baits.Higgins Lake - Reported ice out to the drop off but open water beyond that. There was no safe ice to report. It will be two or three weeks yet for safe ice, and that’s if the weather stays cold.Houghton Lake - Ice anglers are catching walleye and pike. Some bluegills were caught off the north and south shore.Tawas - Ice was starting to form around the state dock however there was no safe ice as of this report. Conditions could change by the weekend if it stays cold.Northwest Lower Peninsula
Traverse City - Both the East Bay and the West Bay have open water. No safe ice to report.Skegemog Lake - Ice anglers are catching a few perch.Long Lake - Ice anglers have started catching a few walleye and perch. Pike were hitting on tip-ups.Lake Cadillac - Ice anglers are taking fair to good numbers of northern pike when using tip-ups or spear fishing. A few walleye were also caught. Those fishing in shallow waters have caught bluegills and crappie. Ice shanties were seen on the west side of the lake.Lake Mitchell - Has ice however the better fishing was on Cadillac.Manistee River - Those braving the cold were still finding some steelhead. 

Great care should be taken on the ice as it was fairly thin before the last two significant snow falls. Now there is slush and thin layered ice on many lakes. At least four vehicles have gone through the ice on the Michigamme Reservoir and other area lakes in Iron and Dickinson County as well as Forest County in Wisconsin. 

Michigamme Reservoir - Has ice and some slush. A local angler put his vehicle through the ice. With that said, foot traffic should be the only way anglers travel across the ice. Extreme caution needs to be used. A few pike have been caught.Big Manistique Lake - Has ice and is producing walleye along with some perch.South Manistique Lake - Is also producing walleye and a few perch. Both lakes should also start producing some pike.Twin Lake - Near Newberry has ice and the bluegill anglers are out.

Facebook and Fishing

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Have you joined the so called “social networking” era?  If you haven’t do not worry, I myself fought it for years.  None of that MySpace stuff for me I said, over and over again.  Through all that,  its not a bad thing after all.  Getting in touch with old friends from high school that I have not heard from in 20 years.

But, this is about fishing and many of your favorite companies have gotten into the mix when it comes to this whole wave.  Northland Tackle, Frank’s Great Outdoors, DB Fishing, and many more are on Facebook.  If you are there, start searching and looking for  yourself.  You get some heads up to new items and sales by doing so.

Ice Men Season 2 on VERSUS

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

If you have the itch to watch an show strictly about ice fishing, then check out the ICE MEN on VS. Wednesday at 9:30 or 10 am tomorrow morning, Eastern time.  There seems to be some question as to what time it will start, but check out both times since it is only a half hour show to be sure.  This show will highlight  the adventures of several teams during the 2010 NAIFC tourney season.

Originally a reality TV type format, there are rumors that this year will be more of a instructional format.

Depending on the footage that makes the cut, who knows, you might even see my ugly mug from time to time during the show.

Local Shops vs. Big Box Stores

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

The other day I decided to look into upgrading my handheld GPS and started doing some research into it. From reading reviews online and asking other peers what they liked and disliked about their units, I tried to find as much information I could before making my decision.  I called several outlets to find out the opinions of the employees and what kind of track record the unit I had in mind had.

For the most part I have come to the conclusion that the big box stores are more interested in the bottom line than serving their customers well.  Case in point, I made the call and started talking to the guy in the electronics/marine department about what chips were available for the unit. I asked if a certain well known chip maker for lake maps made what I wanted for a new unit coming out on the market.  The answer was that he thought so, since they (read off a list of mfg’s) fit the unit.  Unfortunately he believed that the maker was the same as another company, so he really had no clue what I was trying to ask him.

Then I called both Frank’s Great Outdoors and Jay’s Sporting Goods, both Michigan companies, and found their employees to be well versed in the product and knew exactly what I meant when I asked the question.  It was refreshing not to know more than the person being asked the question.  At both locations I got the answers I needed to make an informed purchase for such an important item that I will use on the tourney trail this winter.

Although these two locations are really more like super local shops compared to a local bait shop, its good to know you can make a call and get the right information when you need it.  They still get the training they need from the companies who produce the product, and more importantly, they use the products on an every day basis.  A good reason to spend where you know your money will stay in the state and help grow businesses.

Jann’s Netcraft for 2010

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Love this time of the year, not only is ice fishing   just around the corner, but its the new catalog season.  Got my Jann’s Netcraftcatalog last week, and its got lots of new goodies in it for the do-it yourselfer, as well as new beads and blades for the walleye angler.

They have a new colorado blade available in size #6 called ProEyes.  These actually look pretty hot, and there are a couple of colors already sold out.  That is something I have noticed from the Netcraft website over the past couple of years.  Buy early, before the season starts and you should be ok.  Better to get it out of the way, and not have to wait for the resupply orders to arrive.

Lots of beads available this year for making your own crawler harnesses as well.  My favorites are the pearlbeads, but they have lots of new patterns and colors available this year. I order in bulk of 1,000 each, but you can get smaller quantities if you prefer.


ProEye Beads

And if you need to resupply your floating jig head collection before the spring run on the Maumee River, Jann’s had the best selection of round head floaters and soft foam floaters .  In some circles these soft foam types are referred to as phelps floaters.

These are just the items that peak my interest, you can find all sorts of goodies for fishing on the website and in the store too.  Order a catalog so you can get your shopping list started for the open water months.  If you see the bulk items on the website or in the catalog, write it down and visit the store. Ask for some help first, because many of the items are in the back in storage for the web and catalog orders.

The Sonic Ice Hopper : Has a new internet home

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Last year’s Sonic Ice Hopper which revolutionized the way anglers on the fly use their sonar/flasher units has moved to a new website now being run by its inventor.

The Sonic Ice Hopper

The website has a bunch of other goodies available for the ice fisherman too. My favorite ice fishing plastics are there, made by Little Atom out of Wisconsin.  A new ice scoop, that could very well be the last one you will ever have to buy, made of indestructible material.  No more banging against the ice, just squeeze and watch the ice pop right off the cup section.

Pt 2: Back from Wisconsin

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Ok, well to say the fishing was rough is probably a really big understatement.  All week long from what was gathered by the other anglers there for the championship, it sounds like I caught the only gill all week.  Although it was crappies and their weight which I was looking for, we had to have gills too for the weighin, so it got marked on the GPS.

We ended up walking for two days of prefishing, and really only riding for two days before we left for the rules meeting. For safety’s sake it was made a walking event that night.  Rough on some guys, but not that big of a deal for me.  Pulling the sled I knew was going to be easy because the snow had a chance to be knocked down for two days while guys had their machines running on top.  There were still a few slushy spots, but if you took some baby steps you could make it fairly easily through the solid icy patches without slipping and landing on your tail.

Day one of the tourney started pretty slow for the first half hour.  After being used to aggressive fish in the early hours of an event, these fish were anything put bait grabbers.  Then it turned on, I landed 4 gills and 3 crappie in a short span. My partner picked up two more gills during that period.

Suddenly we were pumped up, there were no high hopes going into the morning while waiting in line.  It was that bad of prefish for us.  People started looking at us to see what jigs we were using,  was it livebait or plastic?  I would fling my fish close to the chest and carefully take the jig out before too many could see what I was doing.  Too late, one guy for sure saw that special color.  A  blue paint was my fish catcher that day.  In fact it was the only jig I caught fish on, so the only jig I had to retie that night back at the cabin after we weighed in.

Day 2 of the championship started hot, and then quickly fizzled.  At that point we were in 22nd place, two spots out of the money, and only a half pound out of the top 15. I quickly landed a gill, my partner got one too, and a crappie to boot.  All that took place in the first 30 min, and then the bottom fell out.  Not another fish was caught before we had to leave to make it back by two o’clock.

We moved,  and weaved through the other teams trying to pick up fish. Notta was the result.  Not a good feeling to have at that point while we watched a few other teams pick one or two up here and there.  End result, we fell back five places.  Again, a half pound out of the money.  Many teams had bad days that Sunday, and we did not fall as far back as I thought we were going to.  Could have been worse. 

Many teams did not catch a fish on either day, including some pretty good, well respected ones.  I suppose that is something you should look at and be proud of, but right then and there it is little consolation right after the event.  We started looking at what we had done wrong, and what could be improved upon.  The process begins until the next event…..

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  Be good, Be safe and Be well!

I’mmmmm BACK (from Wisconsin) Pt: 1

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I snuck out of town without notice and too much fanfare last Monday night and made my way around Chicago and headed up to Rhinelander, Wisconsin for the North American Ice Fishing Championship.  If it wasn’t for stopping  just north of the Indiana line to pick up my new Ice Gator power head, we would have made good time for the weather was perfect this time.

Right now I am just gettting caught up unpacking and hauling gear back and forth to where it belongs, a never ending process it seems!  Have to put a charge on all the batteries, and get back to rigging up some new rods I picked up from Clam, they look pretty good.  Their new line is some tough stuff!

Just a quick run down on how all the gear performed:  The Ice Gators are still the fastest drill on the market!!!  Smoked the new Strikemasters.  My rods from St Croix worked great on my spoon rigs, while my Thorne Bros Power Noodles actually made me one of the better bluegill catchers up there this past week.  As far as anyone was talking, from all that was said, I was the only one who caught a gill during prefish in the boundry waters.  Not a good sign at that point, there are some really good anglers on the circuit.  Was actually afraid I might have caught the only one who ventured out from the bays!

I will break down some details while I get some chores done, they always seem to build up when you leave town.

Michigan DNR Fishing Report for 12/10

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

As we move through the transition between open-water fishing and ice fishing, the weekly reports will keep getting smaller. Sounds like freeze-up may be imminent toward the end of this week. With highs in the 20′s from Wednesday on, open-water fishing may come to an end. Shallow lakes have started to freeze over however there is no safe ice to report. This would be a good time to get the ice fishing gear ready to go.


Southeast Lower Peninsula

Lake Erie - Shore anglers casting bombers at night were still taking a few walleye off Luna Pier and Sterling State Park. The Metro Park dock is still in. Those fishing in the marina were catching bluegills. Try a small teardrop with a wax worm.

Huron River - Those fishing all the way up to the dam at Flat Rock were still taking some nice steelhead when using spawn or wax worms.

Detroit River - Boat anglers jigging large minnows near Horse Island caught some nice walleye. Light numbers of perch were caught and some were keepers.

Lexington - Anglers were still fishing from shore and the piers however catch rates were slow. Very few perch were caught and many were small. A steelhead or two were still being caught but the action was hit-or-miss.

Kawkawlin River - Anglers were catching good numbers of perch.

Saginaw River - Walleye fishing has been good on the right day.

Tittabawassee River - Is usually a good place for early winter walleye.

Quanicassee River - Had fair to good perch fishing.

Southwest Lower Peninsula

St. Joe - Pier anglers were still heading out for perch. Most were using minnows.

St. Joe River - Steelhead and brown trout have been caught up near the Berrien Springs Dam. Those trolling in the river have caught steelhead, walleye and bass.

Grand Haven - Pier anglers were still out for whitefish and steelhead when using spawn and wax worms.

Muskegon - Pier anglers were still taking some steelhead when using spawn. Whitefish were caught in the channel near the Coast Guard Station.

Muskegon Lake - Walleye were caught at night when trolling along the edge of the weeds in waters up to 12 feet deep. Fish were taken near Second Street, the Bear Lake Channel and along the south end of the lake. Most were using #12 Husky Jerks or #10 deep diving Husky Jerks. Small pike were caught during the day. Perch were caught in the deep hole in front of the Bear Lake Channel and along the west side of the lake.

Muskegon River - Steelhead have been caught between Bridgeton and Maple Island when using the drop back method. Spawn worked best.

Northeast Lower Peninsula

Thunder Bay River - A few perch are being caught in the river and around the Marina. The whitefish run is over but an occasional fish is still being caught. Not much to report on steelhead, but anglers should still find some fish below the dam.

Au Sable River - There are still some fresh run fish available, but the boat ramps are snowed in and the river is hard to wade this time of year. Steelhead could be found between the mouth and Foote Dam. The occasional whitefish was caught on wax worms near the mouth.

Houghton Lake - Is covered with skim ice. There is no safe ice to report. Shore fishing has ended as the canals have frozen over. Anglers are now waiting to see what impact the storm will have on ice conditions.

Tawas - Had few reports as catch rates for walleye and whitefish have slowed.

Rifle River - Steelhead anglers were still taking a few fish when using spawn or wax worms.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Traverse City - No anglers have been out open-water fishing. Most are now preparing for the onset of the ice fishing season.

Boardman River - Steelhead were still being caught by those using spawn or wax worms.

Betsie River - Is still producing the occasional steelhead.

Manistee River - Steelhead fishing continues to be the only fishing activity.

Ludington - Pier and shore anglers are still catching steelhead however the action has slowed.

Pere Marquette River - Those braving the cold have caught the occasional steelhead. Try spawn or wax worms.


Open water muskie fishing is wrapping up. Many of the shallow lakes in the area are ice covered however there was no safe ice to report. The deeper lakes still had open water.