Editor’s note: Ice conditions are variable across the state ranging from no ice in southern Michigan to a foot or more on many lakes in the Upper Peninsula. Anglers are urged to always use caution when venturing out on ice. Call ahead for an update on ice conditions. Carry a spud and check the ice as you go, especially as warm temperatures move in and ice begins to melt. Never fish alone, wear a life jacket and carry ice picks.
Lake St. Clair
Fishing has been pretty good on Lake St. Clair when anglers are able to get out on the water. Some limit catches of walleyes have been reported, but strong winds and gale warnings have kept boat anglers off the big water. Toms are strutting and gobbling.
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.
Both the perch and the walleye bites have slowed in the Detroit River. A few walleyes are starting to show up, but high winds and cold temperatures have delayed the run and made fishing difficult. Shore anglers were getting a few small perch in the cuts and canals.
Bottom Line Bait & Tackle, (734) 379-9762.
Trenton Lighthouse, (734) 675-7080.
Horse Island Tackle, (734) 692-9839.
Luna Pier Area
Lake Erie was producing limit catches of some very nice walleyes, but strong winds and gale warnings kept boat anglers off the big lake. Toms are strutting.
Luna Pier Harbour Club, (734) 848-8777.
Steelhead fishing has been fair on the Kalamazoo River at the Allegan Dam. Spawn, spinners, flies and wax worms have all been working. Coho, brown trout and an occasional steelhead have been caught on Lake Michigan at St. Joseph when the weather allowed. High winds have kept most anglers grounded. St. Joseph River had a few anglers out targeting steelhead last week, but the bite was slow once again. We need rain and warmer temperatures to bring some fresh fish into the river system. Toms are gobbling and strutting. The spring turkey season should be good.
Webber & Sons Marine and Tackle, (269) 673-6294.
Grand Rapids Area
Steelhead fishing has been slow on the Grand River. A few fish have been caught at the Sixth Street Dam, but the catch rate has been low. Toms are strutting. The spring turkey season should be good.
Al & Bob’s Sports, (616) 245-9156.
The water was running about 39 degrees on Gun Lake and no one was out fishing. With below freezing temperatures overnight, the lake has had skim ice in the mornings. High winds in the afternoons haven’t helped. Gobblers are on the move and strutting and gobbling.
Gillett’s Bait and Hardware, (269) 672-5371.
Saginaw Bay Area
Only a few boats were out on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay due to high winds. Those heading out from Linwood caught decent numbers of walleyes in 15 to 17 feet of water when trolling bodybaits. East of Bay City, perch fishing in the rivers and cuts was hit-or-miss. In the Saginaw River, yellow perch fishing in the lower river and just off the river mouth has been phenomenal with limit catches of 25 fish the norm. A lot of the fish were 12 to 14 inches. Minnows on a perch rig without beads seemed to work best. Perch anglers were shore fishing at the cement plant in Essexville and at Smith Park.
Franks Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.
Steelhead fishing has been excellent on the Pere Marquette River. Beads, spawn, wax worms and jigs have produced a good bite. Egg patterns are catching fish in the flies-only area. A little warm rain will bring in some fresh fish. Inland lakes had very little ice and none was safe for foot travel last week. Toms are starting to strut and break out of bachelor groups.
Baldwin Bait & Tackle, (231) 745-3529.
Ed’s Sport Shop, (231) 745-4974, www.edsports.com.
Grand Haven Area
Boat anglers had been catching a few perch on Lake Michigan south of the piers in 60 to 75 feet of water. Those using minnows reported the best action. However with the high winds, no boats were out. and pier fishing was slow. Toms are gobbling and strutting.
Lakeview Marine & Tackle, (616) 842-2770.
At last check, the surface water temperatures on Lake Michigan was 36 degrees. Those trolling spoons and Rapalas around the pier heads caught light numbers of steelhead or brown trout when the wind allowed them to get out. Docks were in at the city launch, but the restrooms and fish cleaning station were still closed. The dock is in at the launch at Copeyon Park.
Captain Chuck’s Fishing, Hunting and Archery, (231) 843-4458.
Perch fishing has been pretty good in Mud Creek and in the ditch along the road at the public access site. Minnows have produced the best bites. Lake trout are hitting off the breakwall in Caseville and suckers are moving into the local creeks and rivers. Toms are strutting and gobbling. There are a ton of birds in the thumb.
Walsh Gun & Tackle, (989) 856-4465.
Walleye fishing has been very good in the St. Clair River. Boat anglers are jigging with minnows and shore anglers are casting three-way rigs tipped with minnows. A few cohos and steelhead are hitting, too. Atlantics, chinooks and cohos have moved into the harbor at Lexington. Toms are strutting and gobbling.
Anderson’s Pro Bait, (810) 984-3232.
East Jordan Area
Perch are hitting through 18 inches of ice on Lake Charlevoix where there was 12 inches of snow. Good bite has been reported by anglers fishing at the red can off Medusa in 70 to 90 feet of water. Steelhead fishing has been slow.
Tom’s Bait & Tackle, (231) 536-3521.
Frankfort: The water was open and ice free. When they can get out, boat anglers trolling bodybaits between the pier heads caught a few brown trout. Betsie River: The steelhead bite slowed with the onset of snow and cold temperatures. Onekama: The water is open and ice free but there was no fishing activity to report.
Tackle Box, (231) 352-7673.
Manistee: Surface temperature readings were about 36 degrees. The city launch has three docks in but the restrooms and fish cleaning station are still closed. Pier anglers caught a couple of steelhead and brown trout on spawn. When they could get out, boat anglers caught coho, steelhead and brown trout in the basin and outside the piers in 9 to 12 feet when trolling spoons and Rapalas. Big Manistee River: Has fresh fish but the bite has slowed with the cold weather. Target the deeper holes until it warms back up.
Riley’s, (231) 723-3354.
Houghton Lake Area
Houghton Lake has open water, but cold overnight temperatures are creating skim ice every morning. Fishing pressure has been very light. Steelhead fishing has been good on the Big Manistee, Rifle and Boardman rivers. Toms are strutting and chasing hens.
Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.
There was between 12 and 18 inches of snow on the ice and conditions were not safe. Ice is pulling away from shore on most lakes in the area. Gobblers are breaking out of their bachelor groups and elk are dropping their antlers.
Elk Country Outfitters NEMI, (989) 306-0720, www.ElkCountryOutfittersNEMI.com.
A few steelhead and Atlantic salmon and light numbers of brown trout have been caught in the Thunder Bay River and when trolling at the mouth of the river. The Post Office launch is open but the launch in the harbor was not open.
Clem’s Live Bait & Tackle, (989) 354-2070.
Fishing slowed on Lake Huron at Cedarville and Hessel. Anglers reported catching some perch between 8 and 10 inches long, but many others were throwbacks. Anglers were using minnows, wigglers, spikes and spoons. A couple of splake were caught on spoons at the pier. The area still had ice however strong currents are creating unstable ice conditions in some areas so extreme caution needs to be used.
Wilderness Treasures, (906) 647-4002.
Drummond Island Area
A fair number of perch have been caught in Maxton Bay where there was between 24 and 30 inches in 13 to 18 feet of water. Minnows and tear drops have produced the best action.
Johnson’s Sport Shop, (906) 493-6300.
Ice was still holding up fairly well on Manistique Lakes. Anglers are reminded to use extreme caution when heading out on the ice, especially at this time of year when conditions can change in a hurry. Anglers were catching some perch on Big Manistique and fair numbers of perch and bluegills were hitting on South Manistique.
Mick’s Bait Shop, (906) 586-6040.
The bubblers were ice free but there is still a lot of ice in and around Marquette Harbor and it could blow back in any day. Coho fishing was hit-or-miss with some days producing limit catches while other days were only a fish or two. Brown trout, splake and a couple of chinook have been mixed in with the coho catches. Fishing has been slow on the Carp and Chocolay rivers with only a couple of steelhead or brown trout being caught over the last couple weeks. Water levels are still very low. Au Train River: Coho fishing was
Gander Mountain, (906) 226-8300.
Anglers were still ice fishing on Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc, however a foot or more of fresh snow has covered many of the dangerous areas. Extreme caution needs to be used. Perch fishing was fair at best with fish caught in the Kipling area. Anglers were using wigglers or minnows in 30 to 35 feet of water. It seems the fish had moved out from the usual areas and were scattered.
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.
BayShore Resort Bait & Tackle, (906) 428-2950.
Iron Mountain Area
Ice was running up to 30 inches thick on lakes around Iron Mountain with 10 inches of new snow on top. Fishing pressure has been light. A few bluegills have been caught on Badwater Lake. Cold weather in the forecast will keep winter conditions around for the immediate future. Deer seem to be coming through the winter relatively unscathed.
Northwoods Wilderness Outfitters, (906) 774-9009.
Fishing has been slow in Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Bay, unless you are looking for smelt. Good smelt action has been reported by anglers fishing off Sand Point in 30 to 100 feet of water. Jig something shiny if the smelt are not there right away as it will usually bring them in. This would be a good time to bring a youngster out as the fish are frequently right below the hole during the day. Put a flasher fish right above the school and every time you catch one they move higher in the water column, which can be exciting for a young angler. Try a light action rod with a Hali lure on the bottom and one or two small teardrop jigs above it, all tipped with a wax worm. A spring bobber is very helpful as smelt have a light bite.
Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.
Lake Gogebic ice conditions are holding up well with reports of some nice perch being caught. The best action has come to those fishing wigglers and spikes in 26 to 29 feet of water. Expect 20 to 24 inches of ice with snow cover on top. Midday temperatures in the 20s and overnight lows in the single digits should keep conditions stable. If temps warm into the 30s to 40 during the day expect wet conditions from the remaining snow cover.
Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.
Iron River Area
Ice was running up 24 inches thick on most lakes in the area and the ice fishing season was hanging on. Anglers are catching perch on Chicagon Lake and a few lakers and whitefish on Chicagon and Ottawa. There was a foot of snow on the ground.
Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.
The DNR contributed to this report.