Michigan Outdoor News Fishing and Hunting Report – Dec. 21, 2018

 Editor’s note: Ice is forming on rivers and lakes across the state, but not at the same rate. While there was good ice in areas of the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula last week, lakes in southern Michigan were still not safe for foot travel. With warmer temperatures in the forecast anglers are advised to use extreme caution when on the ice. Check the ice as you go with a spud and never fish alone. Wear a life jacket and always carry ice picks when traveling on the ice.


Lake St. Clair

Lake St. Clair had thin ice in most of the canals and marinas. Ice thickness is highly variable ranging from skim to maybe 1.5 inches, so the ice was not safe. All the docks are out, and the protected launches are iced in. The Harley Ensign launch is iced in as well after overnight winds shifted and blew the ice in. Warm temperatures predicted for the weekend will not help ice formation. 

Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.

Lake Orion

Ice was forming on inland lakes in Oakland County but there was none safe for fishing yet. Rain and warmer temperatures were in the forecast. Muzzleloader season has been fair. Hunters report seeing light numbers of deer during daylight.

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

Trenton Area

A few boat anglers were out fishing the canals on the Detroit River. Some nice bluegills were being caught on a jig and wax worm. Fair numbers of perch and crappies also were caught, but anglers were sorting through the small perch. 

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

Trenton Lighthouse, (734) 675-7080.

Horse Island Tackle, (734) 692-9839.


Coloma Area

There was about 3 inches of ice in the channels on Lake of the Woods. Anglers report catching good numbers of crappies. With warm weather in the forecast it didn’t look like the ice was here to stay. River fishing has been slow and the muzzleloader deer season has been pretty quiet.

Ellinee Bait and Tackle, (269) 468-7522


Ice was forming on lakes in Barry County, but it varied from lake to lake. Up to 3 inches was reported on some and as little as 1 inch on others. The larger lakes still had open water. Anglers sneaking out on Carter and Thornapple lakes were catching good numbers of bluegills. With warm weather in the forecast the ice wasn’t expected to hold up for very long. The muzzleloader season has pretty good. Deer numbers are in good shape. 

Al and Pete’s Sport Shop, (269) 945-4417.


Saginaw Bay Area

Ice was forming on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay, but there was no safe ice to report. Warmer temperatures and some rain was in the forecast. When they can get out, boat anglers were still getting a few walleye when trolling but pressure was pretty light. Ice also was starting to form along the shore and at the boat ramps on the Saginaw River, but there was no safe ice to report. The river was still a bit muddy from the recent rain, which made walleye fishing a bit difficult for boat anglers. Muzzleloader season was pretty good and the late archery season should be good, too..  

Franks Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.

Weidman Area

Ice was forming on lakes in Isabella County. Some lakes still had open water and others had up to 3 inches. Bluegills and walleyes were caught on Deerfield Park, Isabella and Chippewa lakes, but there was rain and warm weather in the forecast. The firearms deer season was good and the late muzzleloader season has been good, too. Rabbit hunters are finding a lot of cottontails and coyote hunters are having some luck, too. 

Schafer’s Bait & Sporting Goods, (989) 644-3501.

Ludington Area

Ice was forming on lakes in Mason County but nothing was safe for foot traffic. Perch fishing has been very good in the open water on Pentwater Lake. Those fishing minnows or spikes on perch rigs in 40 feet of water reported good action. Steelhead fishing has been fair in the Pere Marquette River, but successful anglers are putting in their time. Firearms deer season was slow and muzzleloader hunters report seeing light numbers of deer. There was about an inch of snow on the ground.

Captain Chuck’s Fishing, Hunting and Archery, (231) 843-4458.


Caseville Area

Walleye fishing has been pretty good in the harbor and off the breakwall at Caseville. Some are poking holes in skim ice off the docks and others are finding open water, especially later in the day. Minnows and jigging spoons are producing the best action. Bluegills and perch were being caught on wax worms and spikes fished through 3 inches of ice at Bayport. Firearms deer season was pretty good, but hunter numbers appeared down. Several big bucks were tagged in Huron County. Waterfowl season ended with a splash. 

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

Port Huron

Walleye fishing has been very good in the St. Clair River. Those jigging with minnows are catching limits of fish, but fishing pressure has been very light. A few Atlantic salmon have been caught in Lexington Harbor before ice moved in. Waterfowl hunting was very good this fall. Muzzleloader deer hunting has been slow. Early firearms season was great, but the deer disappeared by the second week. 

Anderson’s Pro Bait, (810) 984-3232.


Manistee Area

The bite was slow on the Manistee River as water temperatures dropped to the mid 30s. Steelhead anglers floating spawn and beads have managed to take a few nice fish. 

Riley’s, (231) 723-3354.

Kalkaska Area

Some of the smaller lakes like Manistee and Crawford had up to 7 inches of ice and anglers were catching fish. Perch, bluegill and walleye action has been good. Otsego Lake was producing some nice panfish, too, but rain and warm temperatures were on the horizon. The muzzleloader season was slow. 

Jack’s Sport Shop, (231) 258-8892.

Cadillac Area

Ice anglers are starting to head out in the shallow bays on lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, but extreme caution is advised as ice thickness was spotty.  

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


Houghton Lake Area

There was up to 5 inches of ice in the shallows on Houghton Lake, but there was open water in the middle of the East Bay. Anglers should stay away from the middle of the lake, as well. Most are getting out from the northern end of the East Bay, off the south DNR launch and in front of the northeast DNR launch. They have caught pike, walleyes, crappies and bluegills. They were using tip-ups with golden shiners for pike, jigging spoons with minnows for the walleyes, and wax worms or spikes for the ’gills. Muzzleloader deer season was slow. 

Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.

Higgins Lake Area

Has open-water fishing only. A few shore anglers caught some rainbow trout off the North State Park last week and off King Road, which is on the east end of the state park. Most are using a treble hook with wax worms or spawn. The muzzleloader season was pretty slow and hunting pressure was light.

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

Onaway Area

There was up to 5 inches on Tomahawk Creek Flooding where anglers are catching northern pike and a few bass. There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground. Muzzleloader hunting was pretty good. 

Parrott’s Outpost, (989) 733-2472.


Drummond Island Area

Ice was forming in the bays on Drummond Island. A few anglers are getting out and catching northern pike in 5 feet of water. There was rain and warmer temperatures in the forecast. Bunny hunting is getting started with about 6 inches of snow on the ground. Muzzleloading season was decent and one hunter shot a 10-point buck on opening day. 

Johnson’s Sport Shop, (906) 493-6300.

Curtis Area

There was 5 to 8 inches of ice on Manistique Lakes and anglers reported catching a mixed bag of walleyes, pike, perch, bluegills and a few crappies. There was about 5 inches of snow on the ground. Muzzleloader hunting has been slow. 

Mick’s Bait Shop, (906) 586-6040.


Marquette Area

Lakes were freezing up in Marquette County and anglers were starting to edge out on some of the shallow lakes. Perch fishing was pretty good on Teal Lake and a few walleyes were caught, too. The muzzleloader season was good. 

Gander Mountain, (906) 226-8300.

Escanaba Area

A few anglers are starting to sneak out on Lake Michigan’s Little bay de Noc, but they are staying in the shallows close to shore. Light numbers of walleyes have been caught.
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.

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

Iron Mountain Area

There was up to 7 inches of ice on lakes in in Dickinson County. Perch and bluegills have been caught on Lake Antoine and bluegills have been hitting on Cowboy Lake. Gills and crappies have been caught on Gene’s Pond. The firearms season had mixed success and the muzzleloader season was slow. Hunters did report seeing good numbers of deer.

Northwoods Wilderness Outfitters, (906) 774-9009.


L’Anse Area

Ice was running up to 6 inches of ice on most of the shallower lakes in the area. Lake Vermilac is producing bluegills and perch and Alberta Pond is producing trout, bluegills and perch. Jigs and minnows are attracting good attention. There was about 3 inches of snow on the ground. Muzzleloader season has been good, but some bucks are already starting to drop their racks.

Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518. 

Iron River Area

There was up to 5 inches of sloppy ice on most of the shallow lakes in the area. Anglers are catching walleyes, crappies and a few perch. Muzzleloader season was slow.

Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.

The DNR contributed to this report.

Categories: Hunting News, Michigan Fishing Reports, News

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