This warmer weather makes ice fishing a lot more comfortable however it is important that anglers use extreme caution and pay close attention to changing ice conditions. There have been numerous accidents on Saginaw Bay over the last week. To be safe, anglers are advised to fish in shallow waters only. Remember, use the buddy system, tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return, check the ice in front of you with a spud, take a cell phone and wear a life jacket. Those heading out should travel by foot only, no motorized vehicles should be going out on the ice. Ice on the inland lakes seems to be holding up better but catch rates were on the slow side.
Southeast Lower Peninsula
Lake Erie - Walleye are still hitting in Brest Bay. Most are using minnows, rapalas or small spoons. The various marinas were providing some good panfish action with perch, crappie and bluegills being caught.
Huron River - Is still providing the opportunity to catch a couple steelhead.
Detroit River - Those fishing in Airport Bay continue to catch a few yellow perch in the 10 to 14 inch range.
Lexington - Ice anglers caught a few small perch. Small brown trout and even some steelhead were also caught.
Saginaw Bay - Anglers are warned to be very careful of changing ice conditions! Extreme caution needs to be used. The pressure cracks are extremely dangerous at this time so anglers should avoid those areas. Two anglers drowned since last Friday, and in both cases they were riding ATV’s, got onto thin, newly frozen ice, and broke through. There are a lot of pressure cracks out there, and if you’re riding an ATV or snowmobile, you can come upon a crack or thin ice before you have time to stop. Ice conditions were not great before the recent thaw, and now they are worse. Stay away from the mouth of rivers, creeks and drains because the recent thaw has increased runoff which in turn has eroded the ice in those areas. Local Sheriff Departments have been calling for people to stay off the ice. It would be wise to fish in shallow waters only and stay close to shore. Those wading open waters in the channel near the Hot Ponds caught walleye and pike. Many were small. Perch fishing was slow in the shallow waters between Sebewaing and Mud Creek. Walleye anglers were not fishing this area because the ice was not safe outside the islands.
Saginaw River - Did not have much activity with the poor ice conditions around Saginaw and Zilwaukee. The ice continues to deteriorate on the river.
Southwest Lower Peninsula
Gun Lake - Had good yellow perch fishing.
Gull Lake - Pike fishing has been good in the South Bay.
Crooked Lake - In Barry County had fair to good bluegill fishing but anglers will need to sort out the small ones.
Grand River at Grand Rapids - Has good walleye action off the Fulton Street Bridge and when trolling rapalas up and down the river between 8pm and midnight. For steelhead, try 3 eggs in a bag with a chartreuse floater.
Grand River at Lansing - Ice on the river is questionable and should be avoided.
Lake Lansing - A lot of pike were caught on tip-ups however many were small.
Lake Ovid - Ice anglers were catching small bluegills only.
Reeds Lake - Crappie were caught on minnows and wax worms 20 to 32 feet down in waters 40 feet deep. Yellow perch were hitting on wigglers, spikes and minnows on the bottom in 30 to 40 feet of water. Bluegills were hitting on minnows, spikes or wax worms. Large pike were caught 4 to 10 feet off the bottom in waters 20 to 40 feet deep.
Muskegon Lake - Anglers should stay away from open water in the channel that leads to Lake Michigan. Pike have been caught in the middle sections of the lake. Those fishing off Hartshorn Marina were using tip-ups with golden shiners. Perch were caught on the bottom in 45 to 60 feet of water. Try minnows, wigglers, mousies or spikes. Bluegills were caught in 3 feet of water off the North State Park.
Muskegon River - Steelhead fishing picked up in the upper stretches where anglers have caught fish between Bridgeton and Newaygo. Spawn worked best.
Northeast Lower Peninsula
Mullet Lake - Anglers were targeting perch in 12 to 40 feet of water. Of those caught, most were 5 to 8 inches and only a few topped 10 inches. Anglers are mainly staying close to shore. The middle portion of the lake has not been fished due to questionable ice conditions.
Higgins Lake - Smelt have been caught about 10 feet off the bottom in waters 30 to 50 feet deep. Perch can be found in 15 to 20 feet of water, sort out the small ones. Lake trout and good numbers of whitefish have been caught along the drop-off near deep water. Rainbow trout can still be found near the mouth of Big Creek.
Houghton Lake - Pike are hitting on tip-ups with sucker minnows and walleye are hitting on jigs with minnows. Catch rates for bluegill were sporadic and a few crappie were caught on minnows.
Tawas Bay - Pike spearing has slowed. Perch were hitting in 12 to 20 feet of water however most were small. No walleye to report because the ice where most of the fish were caught was no longer safe.
Au Gres - Ice on the Bay here is not safe. The best action was south of Pt. Au Gres in Wigwam Bay. Anglers are using Hale Road, Palmer Road and Pine River Road for access. Perch anglers are fishing 3 to 5 feet of water. Many were small however some 8 to 10 inch fish were caught. A few walleye were caught out further but anglers will need to use caution and watch for pressure cracks and open water.
Au Gres River - Is producing a lot of sub-legal walleye.
Northwest Lower Peninsula
Traverse City - Both the East Bay and the West Bay have open water.
Lake Leelanau - Ice anglers are still taking a few walleye.
Green Lake - Ice anglers are catching smelt but some are small.
Cedar Lake - Pike are hitting on tip-ups and smelt have been caught.
Lake Missaukee - Had fair to good panfish action.
Lake Cadillac - Had fair to good pike fishing.
Lake Mitchell - Is also producing some pike and panfish.
Manistee River - Look for steelhead in the upper stretches near Tippy Dam.
Green Bay - The ice was poor on the Bay this week. Anglers were fishing inside the marina wall only for trout, pike and yellow perch. For trout and pike, anglers were using a rapala with or without minnows. Trout were seen on cameras however only small pike were caught. Yellow perch were caught on small jigs with minnows but many were small.
Menominee River - Anglers were ice fishing upstream from the mouth near the first bridge. This area has a mixed bag but most anglers were targeting panfish. Catch rates were slow with only a few small bluegills and the occasional crappie taken. Those fishing at the Sixth Street slip on the Marinette side need to use extreme caution as a truck went halfway in near the boat landing. Walleye and whitefish were caught late afternoon into the evening by those using jigs in a variety of colors and sizes. The river is open near Stephenson Island where anglers are wading or fishing from shore. Some are fly fishing while others are casting a variety of rapalas for brown trout, steelhead or walleye. Those fishing the Wisconsin side at the Hattie Street Dam were taking walleye, whitefish and pike through the ice. On the Michigan side, anglers were fishing the open waters from shore for steelhead and brown trout.
Little Bay De Noc - Ice in the shipping channel in Escanaba has reopened producing DANGEROUS ice conditions. Anglers are discouraged from venturing out in this area. The majority of anglers are going out from the Terrace Bay Inn and north to the head of the Bay. Some were driving vehicles out north of the Narrows however it is not recommended. Several large ice breaks have opened in various areas across the Bay so anglers need to use extreme caution. Walleye catches have been fair at best with most of the large fish caught off the Center Reef with tip-ups and suckers in 25 to 31 feet of water. The best concentrations of fish have been south of Gladstone Beach in 25 to 35 feet of water. Try jigging rapalas with minnows. Those fishing the head of the Bay caught walleye and perch when jigging rapalas or using tip-ups with suckers in 8 to 19 feet of water. Catch rates for perch slowed however fish were still caught in both deep and shallow waters. Try jigging minnows in 27 to 35 feet of water or spikes and wigglers in 11 to 17 feet of water near Kipling. Jumbo perch were caught at the head of the Bay in 8 to 13 feet of water. Several large pike were taken off the Second Reef when using suckers in 27 to 33 feet of water.