Michigan Outdoor News Fishing Report – March 16, 2018


Lake St. Clair

The ice is shot on Lake St. Clair. Some anglers are fishing off private docks around the mile roads and catching decent numbers of perch and panfish. Anglers must have permission from homeowners to fish on their docks. There was about 6 inches of snow on the ground, but warm temperatures were in the forecast. Hunting pressure has been light.

Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.

Irish Hills Area

There was no safe ice in Jackson County and fishing there has stalled. There was just a dusting of snow on the ground and warm temperatures in the forecast. Coyote hunting has been very good. One hunter shot a 51-pounder during a local coyote bounty hunt.

Knutson’s Sporting Goods, (800) 292-0857 or (517) 592-2786.

Lake Orion

Ice fishing has ended in Oakland County and anglers are gearing up for the open-water season. There was about 5 inches of wet, heavy snow on the ground and mild weather in the forecast so it wasn’t expected to stick around for very long. Coyote hunting has been fair, but hunting pressure has been light. A few cottontail rabbits have been taken at the bald Mountain Recreation Area.

Lakes Village Stop/Mobile Gas Station, (248) 693-4565.

Trenton Area

Perch fishing has been good on the Detroit River. Anglers dunking minnows and wax worms are catching good numbers of fish, especially  in the marinas and canals. Some bigger fish were being caught. Walleye fishing has been slow, but the fish are starting to stage in Lake Erie and should start pushing up the river soon. Steelhead fishing has been pretty good in the lower end of the Huron River. A few walleyes are starting to trickle in, too.

Bottom Line Bait & Tackle, (734) 379-9762.

Trenton Lighthouse, (734) 675-7080.

Horse Island Tackle, (734) 692-9839.


Sturgis Area

There was no safe ice on lakes in St. Joseph County and anglers there are waiting for the open water to arrive. There was just a dusting of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been very light.

Klinger Lake Trading Post, (269) 651-2679.

Union Area

Ice was melting fast on inland lakes in  Cass County. Most anglers have put away their ice fishing gear and are getting ready for the open-water seasons to arrive. There was a little snow on the ground, but with warm temperatures in the forecast it wasn’t expected to stick around very long. Hunting pressure has been light, but there are a lot of coyotes in the area.

Halls Bait and Tackle, (269) 641-2304.

Coldwater Area

Ice fishing has all but ended in Branch County. There was no safe ice on any lakes and the forecast called for relatively mild temperatures so anglers weren’t counting on much of a return of winter conditions. Hunting pressure also has been light. A few die-hard hunters were still hunting coyotes, but overall the pressure was light.

Hoskins Bait House, (517) 369-1330.

Kalamazoo Area

There was no safe ice in Kalamazoo County and ice fishing there has ended. Good numbers of brown trout, coho salmon and whitefish are hitting off the piers on Lake Michigan when the wind isn’t blowing. Rivers were running high and muddy last week and fishing has been slow. When the water levels drops and the water clears, steelhead fishing should be decent on the St. Joseph and Kalamazoo rivers. Hunting pressure has been very light with wet sloppy conditions blanketing the area.

D and R Sports, (269) 372-2277.

Grand Rapids Area

Anglers in the Grand Rapids area are playing a waiting game. The Grand River was running high and fast and stream anglers were waiting for it to calm down to resume steelhead fishing. There was no safe ice anywhere in southern Michigan so lake anglers are waiting for open water.

Al & Bob’s Sports, (616) 245-9156.


Saginaw Bay Area

Boat anglers were catching decent numbers of walleyes in Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. Most of the ice was gone, with the exception of a few chunks floating around at the north end of the bay. Anglers should be aware of the floating ice. Most launches are in on the Saginaw River and one was in at Linwood Marina, but launching there was dependent upon wind direction. Anglers trolling stickbaits reported catching decent numbers of walleyes in 13 to 18 feet of water. Hunting pressure has been light for coyotes and rabbits in Bay and Arenac counties

Franks Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.

Baldwin Area

Steelhead fishing has been excellent on the Pere Marquette River. There are a lot of fish in the lower river. Beads, spawn, wax worms and jigs have all produced good results. Nymphs and egg sucking leeches have been productive in the flies-only section of the river. Shore ice on the inland lakes is starting to break up. Mild temperatures during the day isn’t helping the situation much. There was just a dusting of snow on the ground. Rabbit and coyote hunting pressure has been light, but picks up on the weekends.

Baldwin Bait & Tackle, (231) 745-3529.

Ed’s Sport Shop, (231) 745-4974, www.edsports.com.

Lansing Area

Very few anglers were out fishing in the Grand River, which was running high. The walleye bite had slowed down and light numbers of pike were being caught on minnows or crankbaits in the downtown area. Walleye and pike seasons on Lower Peninsula inland waters ended March 15. Rabbit hunting has been decent, but hunting pressure has been light.

Grand River Bait & Tackle, (517) 482-4461.

Montague Area

Muskegon Lake was ice free, except for the area off Cottage Grove. The state park launch on the north end of the lake and most of the city launches on the south end are open. Boat anglers were catching decent numbers of perch in 40 to 50 feet of water on the west end of the lake. A few walleyes were being caught in the channel and near the river mouth. Water levels were dropping on the Muskegon River. Anglers need to watch out for debris coming downstream, which is hard to see when the water is stained. Those casting have caught some very nice steelhead. Rabbit and coyote hunting pressure has been light.

Johnson’s Great Outdoors Tackle Shop, (231) 893-6688.

Ludington Area

Boat anglers able to get out on Lake Michigan report catching good numbers of brown trout and a few coho salmon when trolling along the beach in 10 to 15 feet of water. Pier anglers also were catching some browns. On the Pere Marquette River, anglers were catching steelhead though the return of cold weather will slow the bite. Try fishing the deeper holes until it warms back up. Hunting pressure has been light but some coyotes are still being taken. Captain Chuck’s Fishing, Hunting and Archery, (231) 843-4458.


Caseville Area

There was no safe ice on Lake Huron. A few diehard ice anglers were fishing through the ice of the floating docks and catching good numbers of perch. There was open water along the breakwall and in the Pigeon River and anglers reported a good bite for lakers and whitefish. There was a foot of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light

Walsh Gun & Tackle, (989) 856-4465.

Port Huron

Boat and shore anglers have been catching excellent numbers of walleyes and whitefish in the open water on the St. Clair River. Minnows have produced the best results. There have been no reports of smelt yet, but they could start showing up any day. There was no safe ice in Lexington and Sanilac harbors. There was just a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Coyote hunters report good success and a few guys are running rabbits with beagles.

Anderson’s Pro Bait, (810) 984-3232.


Indian River

Fishing pressure slowed on Burt Lake as some anglers were having a hard time finding fish. Others reported catching decent numbers of walleyes in 7 to 18 feet of water. Anglers are reminded that walleye season there ended March 15. Fair numbers of perch were caught too, but many were small. Ice at the access sites was showing some damage and there was open water. Ice thickness varies across the lake and anglers need to use caution near the river mouths and near the pressure cracks, which have started to buckle. Hunting pressure has been light.

Pat & Gary’s Party Store, (231) 238-6776.

East Jordan Area

Ice was in great shape on Lake Charlevoix. Anglers were catching good numbers of perch and walleyes in the  south arm of Charlevoix,  at the Narrows, around Holy Island and off Hemingway Point. Perch fishing has been very good on Lake Michigan at Harbor Springs where one angler recently caught one that was 161⁄2 inches long. Steelhead fishing has been very good on the Jordan River. One angler caught and released a 34-inch brown trout. There was about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Coyote hunting remains pretty good.

Tom’s Bait & Tackle, (231) 536-3521.

Traverse City Area

Ice in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties was in pretty poor shape, but was starting to refreeze. Then the area got about 8 inches of snow so ice conditions remain poor and ice fishing was not recommended. Steelhead fishing has been good on the Boardman River. Fresh fish are moving into. Spawn, spinners and wax worms are all catching fish.

WildFishing Guide Service, www.wildfishing.com.

Manistee Area

When they could get out, boat anglers trolling for trout and salmon caught decent numbers of brown trout in the near shore waters of Lake Michigan. A few coho were also mixed in. Those vertical jigging in the channel caught a few walleyes. Good numbers of chrome-colored steelhead were being taken in the lower section of the Big Manistee River.

Riley’s, (231) 723-3354.

Cadillac Area

Ice was falling apart quickly on lakes Cadillac and Mitchell and the ice fishing season has come to an end. Any remaining ice should not be considered safe. Anglers are heading to the Manistee River where the steelhead bite has been pretty good.

Pilgrim Village Fishing Shop, (231) 775-5412.


Houghton Lake Area

Ice fishing was steady on Houghton Lake. Be sure to watch for old spearing holes, which may not be visible because of snow cover. Use caution near the pressure cracks, the Middle Grounds and near any inlets. The bluegill, sunfish and crappie bites have been good with limit catches reported for those using tear-drops. Green, white and purple were good colors. Walleye fishing slowed as the end of the season drew near (March  15) so anglers downsized and were using small Swedish pimples.

Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.

Higgins Lake Area

Shore ice is starting to break up on Higgins Lake. The north state park access site was the only place to get on the lake. Anglers are cautioned to avoid the area around Treasure Island and off Point Detroit. Smelt anglers are walking out from the state park and catching fish in 20 to 30 feet of water in the late afternoon and after dark. Lake herring were also caught. Lake trout and whitefish were hitting in 100 feet of water or more. Perch were still being caught in 20 to 30 feet of water, but anglers were having to do some serious sorting to find a few keepers.

Higgins Lake Sport & Tackle, (989) 821-9517.

Hubbard Lake Area

Ice conditions were poor on Hubbard Lake and ice fishing has stalled. The area got about six inches of snow, which made conditions worse by covering up the pressure cracks and insulating the lake from building any more ice. Hunting pressure has also been light.

Side Door Bait and Tackle, (989) 736-6418.

Atlanta Area

Ice was falling apart in Montmorency County and ice fishing has ended. Steelhead have moved into the AuSable, Rifle and Ocqueoc rivers. There was about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Rabbit and coyote hunting pressure has been light. Elk should start dropping their antlers any time so shed hunters will be out in force.

Elk Country Outfitters NEMI, (989) 306-0720, www.ElkCountryOutfittersNEMI.com.

Onaway Area

There was up to 20 inches of ice on Black Lake, but shore ice was starting to deteriorate in some areas. Anglers are urged to be very cautious, especially around the shoreline. Those heading out are catching good numbers of perch on the north end of the lake in 10 feet of water. Minnows have produced the best bite. There was up to 12 inches of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light, but a few coyotes have been shot.

Parrott’s Outpost, (989) 733-2472.


Pickford Area

Winter is alive and well in the Upper Peninsula. There was still up to 18 inches of ice on Munuscong Bay but in some spots like around islands and river mouths, anglers are urged to use caution as ice is starting to melt. Good numbers of walleyes, perch and pike have been caught. Anglers are reminded that walleye and pike season ended on March 15. The perch are hitting minnows fished around Grassy Island. Mild daytime temperatures were in the forecast so anglers should be very careful when heading out. Fishing has ended on Lake Huron at the Les Cheneaux Islands where there was a lot of open water. There was about a foot of snow in the woods and coyote hunting has been good.

Wilderness Treasures, (906) 647-4002.

Drummond Island Area

Ice was running up to 30 inches thick in the bays around Drummond Island. Perch have been caught in Scotts Bay in 5 to 18 feet of water. Cisco are hitting in the Middle Grounds around Peck and Rutland islands in 15 to 18 feet of water. There was about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Rabbit and coyote hunting pressure has been light.

Johnson’s Sport Shop, (906) 493-6300.

Curtis Area

There was between 10 and 14 inches of ice on Manistique Lakes with heavy slush on top. With warm weather in the forecast anglers are urged to use extreme caution. The perch bite has been pretty good, especially on Big Manistique Lake, but the walleye bite slowed as the end of the season (March 15) drew near.  Decent numbers of bluegills were hitting on South Manistique. There was still up to 18 inches of snow on the ground, but rabbit and predator hunting pressure has been light.

Mick’s Bait Shop, (906) 586-6040.


Marquette Area

When the bubblers were free of ice, good numbers of coho along with the occasional brown trout or splake were caught in Lake Superior’s Marquette Harbor. The ice blew in and anglers were no longer able to access the bubblers by boat or the ice as it was not safe to walk on. Over in Munising Harbor, anglers report catching decent numbers of coho salmon and smelt. Catches varied from group to group with some reporting no fish while others reported fair catches. For coho, they are using a Swedish pimple or assorted jigging spoons. Schools of smelt were more prevalent in the late afternoon and into the evening, but a couple of anglers did well during the day. The best option for smelt is a Hali jig or a tear-drop jig tipped with wax worms. Whitefish catches remain light, however most anglers were targeting coho and smelt. Most whitefish appear suspended in anywhere from 10 to 40 feet of water depending on where the schools of smelt are. Night anglers reported fair catch rates for burbot with most running between 22 and 24 inches long.

Gander Mountain, (906) 226-8300.

Escanaba Area

Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc still had ice in many areas,  but was also showing signs of receding and areas of open water have appeared in various spots. Anglers will need to use caution as some vehicles have broken through the ice in shallow areas. Walleye anglers reported light catches. Those fishing the Ford River reported stained water with no visibility. The best reports came from the head of the bay in 14 to 22 feet of water, and out from the Escanaba ship docks just south of the Escanaba River in 30 feet of water. Jigging Rapalas and tip-ups were both producing good results. Perch catches were light for those fishing the Kipling Flats in 23 to 30 feet of water with minnows and wigglers. Those looking for the large perch were using small Rapalas in deeper water. Several anglers reported catching whitefish while jigging for perch. Anglers are reminded that pike and walleye seasons ended March 15.

Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.

BayShore Resort Bait & Tackle, (906) 428-2950.

Iron Mountain Area

Fishing pressure has been light on lakes in Dickinson and Iron counties. There was at least 2 feet of ice on lakes in the area. Northern pike fishing was good on Cowboy Lake and Badwater Lake. A few anglers are fishing on Lake Antoine, but many angles took their shanties off during the last warm spell. There was about 10 inches of snow in the woods, more further north. Hunting pressure has been light.  A few rabbit hunters report pretty good success.

Northwoods Wilderness Outfitters, (906) 774-9009.


L’Anse Area

Anglers report catching a mixed bag on Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Bay. Good numbers of lake trout, brown trout, steelhead, coho, splake and a few king salmon have been caught. In the evenings, anglers are catching smelt and herring. There was still two feet of ice in Keweenaw Bay and about 3 feet on Huron Bay. Panfish are hitting in Chassel Bay and Alberta Pond.

Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.

Bergland Area

The perch bite has heated up on Lake Gogebic. Anglers working wigglers and spikes in 25 to 29 feet of water are reporting good action, but it has been spotty. Lake travel is good for those riding snowmobile. Recent heavy snow will cause some difficult travel in areas for those using ATVs. Expect that conditions may be nice and firm in the mornings and soft to wet by the afternoon.

Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.

Iron River Area

Fishing pressure has slowed a little, but those getting out report pretty good pike, perch and bluegill action on Chicagon and Hagerman lakes. Ice was running up to 30 inches thick on most inland lakes. There was about 2 feet of snow in the woods. Rabbit hunting has been good. Coyote numbers are still high, but hunting pressure has been light.

Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.

The DNR contributed to this report.

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