Editor’s note: Lakes are freezing across the state, but most were not safe for foot travel. Call ahead for current ice conditions. Always use caution when heading out on the ice. Use a spud to check the thickness, especially early in the season, since ice doesn’t always freeze evenly. Never fish alone. Wear a life jacket and always carry ice picks when traveling on the ice.
Lake St. Clair
All of the canals on Lake St. Clair had skim ice and many of the bays were just beginning to lock in. Strong winds have kept any unprotected areas from freezing. Snow in the forecast was not expected to lead to favorable conditions for making good ice but the cold nights will help.
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.
Irish Hills Area
Lakes in Jackson County were freezing, but none were safe yet for fishing. Larger lakes like Wamplers still had open water. A recent snowstorm didn’t help. Late-season deer hunting has been fair, but hunting pressure has dropped off.
Knutson’s Sporting Goods, (800) 292-0857 or (517) 592-2786.
There was no safe ice in Oakland County at last check, but a cold forecast had anglers prepping their gear. A couple of steelhead were caught on the Clinton River, but fishing pressure has been very light. Deere hunting is winding down with just late doe and bow seasons open. Hunting pressure has been light.
Lakes Village Stop/Mobile Gas Station, (248) 693-4565.
Anglers in Allegan County were gearing up for ice fishing, but there was no safe ice yet at last check. A few steelhead have been caught in the Kalamazoo River below the dam. Spinners, spawn, flies and wax worms have all had their moments. Hunting pressure has been light.
Webber & Sons Marine and Tackle, (269) 673-6294.
Skim ice was forming on lakes in Branch County, but ice fishing had not yet started. Up to 5 inches of snow has fallen and won’t help the ice-making process much. Hunting pressure has been light. A few rabbit and squirrel hunters report pretty good success.
Hoskins Bait House, (517) 369-1330.
There was about 3 inches of ice in the channel on Gun Lake and most ice anglers were hoping to get out. Some of the smaller private pounds were frozen over and light numbers of panfish had been caught. There was about 3 inches of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light.
Gillett’s Bait and Hardware, (269) 672-5371.
Saginaw Bay Area
Ice is forming on the more sheltered shorelines of inner Saginaw Bay but was not yet thick enough for ice fishing. Ice has also covered most of the smaller rivers in the area including the Pine, Pinconning, Kawkawlin, Quanicassee and Sebewaing, but, again, it was not thick enough for ice fishing. On the Saginaw River, there was no ice and walleye anglers were still catching some fish, but frigid temperatures are keeping the boat anglers home. Muzzleloader deer season was pretty good. Hunting pressure has been light for the late bow season.
Franks Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.
Ice was forming on lakes in Lake County but there was no ice fishing yet at last check. Upwards of 10 inches of snow landed in the area so that will not help solid ice form. There was cold weather in the forecast so anglers are keeping their fingers crossed. Steelhead fishing has been good in the Pere Marquette River, but pressure has been light Egg-related baits have produced the best results. Late-season deer hunting has been slow and hunting pressure has been light. Coyote numbers are high.
Baldwin Bait & Tackle, (231) 745-3529.
Ed’s Sport Shop, (231) 745-4974, www.edsports.com.
Grand Haven Area
The whitefish activity has slowed as the run is just about over. Anglers were starting to catch a good number of perch in Lake Michigan. Late-season deer hunting has been fair, but hunting pressure has been light.
Lakeview Marine & Tackle, (616) 842-2770.
Ice is forming on inland lakes in Mason County, but no one was fishing at last check. Fair numbers of steelhead have been caught in the Pere Marquette and Big Manistee rivers. Spawn, spinners, beads and wax worms are producing good results. Hunting pressure has been light, but rabbit hunters were itching to get started.
Captain Chuck’s Fishing, Hunting and Archery, (231) 843-4458.
Ice was forming in the harbor and around the breakwall. There was up to 4 inches recently and with cold weather in the forecast, anglers were starting to get out. Lakers, walleye, steelhead and a few perch have been caught along the breakwall. There was about 4 inches of snow on the ice and in the woods. Late-season deer hunting has been pretty good. There are still some good buck in the area.
Walsh Gun & Tackle, (989) 856-4465.
Walleye fishing remained very good at the south end of Lake Huron and in the St. Clair River. Atlantic salmon have been caught in Lake Huron’s Lexington and Sanilac harbors. Most were shore anglers jigging a small marabou jig. Late-season deer hunting has been decent, but hunting pressure has been light.
Anderson’s Pro Bait, (810) 984-3232.
Traverse City Area
Ice was forming on some of the smaller lakes in the Traverse City area like Arbutus and Spider, but up to 18 inches of snow put a damper on the ice-making process. A few steelhead are being caught in the Boardman River. Spinners, spawn and wax worms have attracted a good amount of attention. The heavy snow has limited hunting pressure although a few whitetails and a few grouse have been killed.
WildFishing Guide Service, www.wildfishing.com.
Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell are now frozen but the ice was not yet safe for foot traffic. With cold temperatures in the forecast, anglers were hoping to be out by this week. Hunting pressure has been light.
Pilgrim Village Fishing Shop, (231) 775-5412.
Houghton Lake Area
Ice was forming on Houghton Lake, however the thickness is not consistent and there were still some areas with open water. A couple of anglers were venturing out and fishing in shallow waters only in the East Bay, but extreme caution needs to be used. The late archery season has been pretty good. One local hunter shot a big 8-point on Dec. 13 that had already shed half of its rack.
Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.
Hubbard Lake Area
Ice is forming on Hubbard Lake, but the ice was not safe for foot traffic. Late-season deer hunting has been slow and hunting pressure has been very light. There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground last week.
Side Door Bait and Tackle, (989) 736-6418.
Those spearing whitefish reported slow catch rates. Atlantic salmon have been caught in the lower Thunder Bay River. The best fishing was in the slower water below the 9th Street Bridge. Try the fishing platform near LaMarre Park. Late-season deer and grouse hunting has been slow and hunting pressure has been light.
Clem’s Live Bait & Tackle, (989) 354-2070.
Decent numbers of steelhead and light numbers of Atlantic salmon are being caught in the lower Au Sable River, but fishing pressure has been light. Late-season deer and grouse hunting has been fair and pressure has been light.
Wellman’s Sport Center, (989) 739-2869.
Drummond Island Area
There was 4 inches of ice on Scotts Bay. A few anglers were fishing in 4 feet of water and catching a few perch and pike, but the water was murky. There was about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Rabbit hunting has been pretty good, but overall, hunting pressure has been light.
Johnson’s Sport Shop, (906) 493-6300.
There was between 2 and 5 inches of ice on Manistique Lakes. A few anglers were venturing out over shallow water but extreme caution is urged. They reported catching a mixed bag of walleyes, pike and a few perch. There was about 6 inches of snow on the ground. A few folks are still bowhunting and report seeing decent numbers of does and fawns. Overall, hunting pressure has been very light.
Mick’s Bait Shop, (906) 586-6040.
A few anglers are starting to sneak out on the north end of Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc up near Kipling. There was up to 4 inches of ice. A couple of walleyes have been caught. Hunting pressure for deer and grouse has been light. There was about 6 inches of snow on the ground at last check with more in the forecast..
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.
BayShore Resort Bait & Tackle, (906) 428-2950.
Iron Mountain Area
Ice was forming on lakes in Dickinson County but none was safe for travel yet. There was about 6 inches of snow on the ground. The muzzleloading season was fair.
Northwoods Wilderness Outfitters, (906) 774-9009.
Anglers are venturing out on some of the smaller inland lakes in Baraga County where there was between 3 and 7 inches of ice. The panfish bite has been pretty good along any remaining weeds on Otter Lake, Alberta Pond and Vermilac Lake. Skim ice was starting to form on Huron Bay. There was about 3 inches of snow on the ground. The muzzleloading season was good. Deer numbers have improved. Late grouse hunting has been slow and hunting pressure has been light.
Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.
Anglers are ice fishing on Lake Gogebic’s Bergland Bay and at the north end of the lake. However, heavy snow has caused water to push up on the ice causing some slush and safety issues. Anglers will need to use extreme caution especially with the onset of heavy snow in the area. Hunting pressure has been light.
Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.
Iron River Area
Walleyes and yellow perch are keeping anglers busy on some of the smaller lakes in Iron County where there was between 4 and 6 inches of ice. Some of the bigger lakes still had open water. There was about 10 inches of snow on the ground. A few hunters are still bowhunting but pressure has been light.
Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.
The DNR contributed to this report.