Michigan Outdoor News Fishing & Hunting Report – March 1, 2019
Editor’s note: Most areas of the state were reporting safe ice conditions, but anglers are reminded that no ice is completely safe. Always use caution when heading out on the ice. Call ahead for an update on ice conditions. Test the ice ahead of you with a spud. Never fish alone. Wear a life jacket, and carry ice picks and a rope.
Lake St. Clair
Perch fishing remained pretty good on Lake St. Clair. Anglers reported a good bite, but were sorting through them for the keepers, when fishing at metro Beach, in front of Gino’s Surf, in Anchor Bay and at Fair Haven. The fish weren’t active all the time and anglers were having to move to find fish. Ice in the areas fished near shore was still relatively stable, but strong winds have shifted some of the ice in the main lake. Anglers should be very cautious about venturing out too far into the main lake, especially on windy days.
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.
Ice fishing has been pretty good. Anglers on Lake Orion and Stringy Lakes report catching good numbers of panfish and fair numbers of northern pike. East and West Graham lakes and Heart Lake in the Bald Mountain Recreation Area also were producing a decent panfish bite.
Lakes Village Stop/Mobile Gas Station, (248) 693-4565.
Luna Pier Area
Those fishing the Metro Park Marina on Lake Erie reported catching bluegills and yellow perch, but were sorting out the small ones. Minnows, wax worms and spikes were all attracting attention.
Luna Pier Harbour Club, (734) 848-8777.
Ice was in good shape, but fishing has been slow. Those putting in their time are catching fair numbers of panfish on Paw Paw Lake, Lake of the Woods and Magician Lake. There was just a couple inches of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light.
Ellinee Bait and Tackle, (269) 468-7522
There was up to 6 inches of ice on lakes in the area. The bite has been slow, but a few bluegills have been caught on Shavehead Lake. Anglers report a fair bluegill and crappie bite on Long Lake and light numbers of pike have been caught on Baldwin Lake. A few panfish and pike have been caught on Eagle Lake, too, and one angler reported catching a few nice perch on Little Cory.
Halls Bait and Tackle, (269) 641-2304.
Grand Rapids Area
The Grand River was running a bit high, but anglers reported catching some nice steelhead below the Sixth Street Dam. Most are using spawn, but wax worms and beads were also taking a few fish.
Al & Bob’s Sports, (616) 245-9156.
Ice has been running between 4 and 12 inches thick on Gun Lake. Beware of the bubblers. Fishing has been pretty good on Gun. Crappies, bluegills, walleyes and pike have all been active, especially the crappies. Anglers report catching good numbers of pike and perch on Fish Lake, pike on Crooked Lake, and some decent bluegills on Long Lake and Tuernsey Lake in Cloverdale. There wasn’t much snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light, but those heading out are taking a few coyotes.
Gillett’s Bait and Hardware, (269) 672-5371.
Saginaw Bay Area
Ice conditions are holding tight on Saginaw Bay. The pressure cracks are moving daily, due to winds and current. If you’re running a sled or a quad be sure to stop 20 to 30 feet before a crack and check it with a spud to find a safe crossing. Walleyes are hitting spoons and jigs tipped with a minnow or minnow head fished in 15 to 22 feet of water. Those fishing off Coggins Road and up off the Pinconning Bar also caught walleyes. Limit catches were taken five to 10 miles out from Finn Road in 15 to 25 feet of water. The best perch bite has been in 5 to 8 feet of water, mostly from Linwood north, and off Vanderbilt Park in 10 feet of water. Minnows have been the bait of choice.
Franks Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.
The Saginaw River had a lot of anglers. However, beware of the ice in the mid-channel because it was “iffy” in spots. Anglers are catching a lot of small walleyes. A couple of bigger ones were taken between Essexville and the mouth of the river. Some nice perch have been caught in the evening at the mouth near the edge of the channel and the Yacht Club. Anglers can see walleye on the graphs and cameras, but the bite was slow.
Riverview Bait Shop, (517) 755-0989.
River fishing has been good on the Pere Marquette when the edges aren’t frozen with shelf ice. When they can get out, anglers report good steelhead fishing. Ice was running between 12 to 18 inches on most lakes in the area. Bluegills and crappies have been caught on Big Bass, Big Star and Wolf lakes. The best pike action has come to anglers fishing on Idlewild Lake, but most of the fish have been small. There was up to 18 inches of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light.
Baldwin Bait & Tackle, (231) 745-3529.
Ed’s Sport Shop, (231) 745-4974, www.edsports.com.
The ice on Hamlin Lake is not safe for vehicles. Fishing has improved as anglers reported catching 10 to 15 panfish per trip along the east side. This included bluegills, crappies, sunfish and occasionally perch. Most of the perch were small. Crappie anglers fishing between Pete’s Bayou and the Narrows were taking 5 to 10 fish per trip when fishing in 30 to 37 feet of water. A couple of decent catches of bluegill and sunfish were taken from the North Bayou. Those fishing the walleye grounds off Duneview Road managed to get a couple of legal-size fish, though many were too small. Pike anglers did well along the upper lake with tip-ups or when spearing.
Captain Chuck’s Fishing, Hunting and Archery, (231) 843-4458.
There was a foot or more of ice on Lake Huron. Anglers are spearing good numbers of northern pike off Mud Creek. Perch and walleyes have been caught on minnows at The Slot off North Island in 12 to 14 feet of water. In Caseville, anglers are catching lake trout, perch, walleyes and whitefish off the breakwall. There was about 8 inches of snow on the ground. Coyote hunting has been pretty good.
Walsh Gun & Tackle, (989) 856-4465.
Fishing has been slow at Port Huron. Anglers with access to some of the local ponds report catching some pike. In the harbors on Lake Huron at Lexington and Port Sanilac anglers are catching fair numbers of laker, Atlantic salmon and steelhead. There was just a dusting of snow on the ground last week. Rabbit hunting has been fantastic.
Anderson’s Pro Bait, (810) 984-3232.
Traverse City Area
Grand Traverse Bay froze over for the third time in 20 years and anglers are catching good numbers of lake trout, cisco and perch. Biologists ask that anglers do not practice catch-and-release with lake trout, and stop fishing for them after catching a two-fish limit. Perch are hitting at the south end of West Grand Traverse Bay in 50 to 90 feet of water. Fair numbers of smelt are hitting at night on Crystal Lake in 60 to 70 feet of water. There was up to 2 feet of snow on inland lakes so travel is limited to snowmobiles. Fishing has been fair. Steelhead fishing has been good for small steelhead up to 5 pounds on the Boardman River. Coyote hunting has been pretty good.
WildFishing Guide Service, www.wildfishing.com.
Steelhead fishing remained slow on the Manistee River and fishing pressure has been light. A few fish have been caught up near Tippy Dam.
Pappy’s Bait & Tackle, (231) 848-4142.
Ice fishing has slowed a little on lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, but persistent anglers were still catching panfish, walleye and pike along the weedbeds and breaks in both lakes.
Pilgrim Village Fishing Shop, (231) 775-5412.
Houghton Lake Area
Anglers heading out on Houghton Lake are advised to use caution and watch for two pressure cracks. There is the large one that runs from the West DNR launch to Johnsons Point and another that has formed off that and runs north to south northeast of Heights Marina. Also, the ice off Long Point is soft and is not safe. The panfish bite was still soft but anglers are getting some. Hot colors were glow, pearl, orange or green. The fish are not schooled up, so anglers were moving from hole to hole after catching a few. Pike were hitting emerald shiners fished on the bottom.
Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.
Higgins Lake Area
There was six to eight inches of snow on Higgins Lake, including some areas that are deeper because of drifting. The smelt action was fair off the North State Park and Big Creek in 40 to 60 feet of water. The best bite was at dusk. Perch were caught around the islands however be ready to sort through the small ones. Lake trout were hitting blues on tip-ups or when jigging just off the bottom in 80 to 110 feet of water. Good numbers of whitefish were hitting wax worms, wigglers or salmon eggs fished right on the bottom in 110 to 120 feet of water. Predator hunting has been decent, but hunting pressure has been light.
Higgins Lake Sport & Tackle, (989) 821-9517.
Otsego Lake has good ice, however the snow was too deep for ORV traffic. There are some areas where there is six inches of slush, especially on the north end and around the shoreline. Fishing picked up with anglers catching walleyes in 7 to 15 feet of water with perch minnows or blues. Most of the fish were around 12 inches but there were a few up to 22 inches. Pike were taken when jigging minnows in 8 to 10 feet of water.
Don’s Sport & Marine, (989) 732-4157.
Van Etten Lake has produced some nice fish including perch up to 13 inches. A few steelhead are hitting in the lower end of the Au Sable River. Crankbaits are producing the best results. There was about a foot of snow on the ground. Rabbit and predator hunting pressure has been light.
Wellman’s Sport Center, (989) 739-2869.
Walleye fishing remained good in Munuscong Bay, although the snow was starting to pile up on the ice. Heavy snow and slush has been an issue down on Lake Huron at Cedarville and Hessel, too, if you get off the main snowmobile trail. At Cedarville, anglers reported using wigglers and minnows to catch perch, but most were running small. Pike were spotted moving through the Snows Channel, but there were no reports of any fish being caught. Over at Hessel, perch between 5 and 10 inches long were being caught by anglers jigging minnows and wigglers. Those targeting splake had no luck.
Wilderness Treasures, (906) 647-4002.
Drummond Island Area
Heavy snow up to 2 feet deep with a thick layer slush beneath it has made travel for fishing the bays around Drummond Island very difficult. A few anglers are sneaking out on their snowmobiles and catching light numbers of perch in Scotts Bay. Pike fishing has been slow. Rabbit and coyote hunting pressure has been light with up to 3 feet of snow in the woods.
Johnson’s Sport Shop, (906) 493-6300.
Ice was running up to a foot thick on Manistique Lakes, but there was heavy snow and slush on top, making lake travel difficult. Snowmobilers can still access the lakes, but not four-wheelers. Bluegills and crappies have been keeping anglers busy in Wolf Bay on South Manistique Lake. Fair numbers of walleyes are hitting on both South Manistique and Big Manistique, particularly off the County Line launch.
Mick’s Bait Shop, (906) 586-6040.
Deep snow one to two feet or more in areas has made travel on the ice difficult. Shoreline areas seem to have the most slush. The ice in Trout Bay was very “iffy” and had areas with pack ice. Catch rates were slow with only a couple of coho and splake taken. Whitefish were caught near Powell Point, but many were small. Perch anglers had some luck however the fish were small. Lake trout were caught near White Rocks and Wood Island Reef. No reports on smelt but anglers are getting two to three burbot per trip.
Curly’s Hilltop Grocery, (906) 387-3056.
Heavy snow made travel very difficult on Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc. Under the deep snow is a foot or more of slush in the low areas. Those venturing off the trail were getting stuck so be aware if you plan to fish the less-traveled areas. Best walleye areas were on the south side of the Escanaba River. Tip-ups and jigging Rapalas fished in 28 to 40 feet of water produced the best results. This was also a good area for big northern pike. The other walleye area was near Gladstone and pushing toward the east bank using the same baits in 25 to 35 feet of water. Perch catches were spotty with most anglers targeting the Butler Island area in 5 to 10 feet of water with minnows and wigglers. Whitefish anglers reported fair catches off Sand Point on minnows or spawn fished in 70 to 80 feet of water.
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.
BayShore Resort Bait & Tackle, (906) 428-2950.
Iron Mountain Area
Fishing pressure has been light with deep snow and slush making access and travel difficult on lakes in Dickinson County. There was more heavy snow in the forecast. Predator hunting pressure has been light, too.
Northwoods Wilderness Outfitters, (906) 774-9009.
Fishing has slowed in Keweenaw Bay. The shallows have produced the best action. Brown trout action has been hit or miss around the falls, where there was 2 feet of ice. Four-wheeler travel has been tough with heavy snow and slush on the bay. Fair numbers of splake have been caught on spawn in 40 feet of water. The whitefish bite has been slow. Herring are just starting to show up. Ice is good out to the Huron Islands. Predator hunting pressure has been light.
Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.
Fishing pressure was light on Lake Gogebic. A few anglers were still working 24 to 30 feet of water for both perch and walleyes. Wigglers, spikes and sucker minnows have all produced. With snowfall measured in feet not inches recently, watch out for heavy drifting and ice heaves. The heavy snow may also begin to create areas of slush, so anglers should be careful.
Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.
Iron River Area
There was up to 14 inches of snow on top of 6 inches or so of slush, making travel on most lakes in the area very difficult. Fishing pressure has been light
Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.
The DNR contributed to this report.