Editor’s note: Ice conditions continued to be mixed from one region of the state to another. There was fair ice in southern Michigan, mostly fit for foot traffic only. Conditions are improving and much better as you move north, but many of the larger, deeper lakes and bays in some parts of the northern Lower were still not safe for vehicle travel. Always use caution when heading out on the ice. Check the ice ahead of you with a spud. Call ahead for an update on ice conditions. Never fish alone. Wear a life jacket, and carry ice picks and a rope.
Lake St. Clair
Anglers were fishing in the canals and marinas along the shore of Lake St. Clair, but extreme caution is advised as the ice thickness varies. Good numbers of panfish have been caught. When the shore opens up, a few boat anglers are fishing in the open water and catching fair numbers of walleyes
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.
Irish Hills Area
There was between 3 and 7 inches of ice on most lakes in Jackson County. Weather reports had cold nights and warm days in the forecast. Crappies are hitting on most lakes in the area including Devil’s, Randal, and Marble. Coyote hunting and trapping has been good, but numbers were down in Knutson’s recent coyote contest. There was very little snow on the ground.
Knutson’s Sporting Goods, (800) 292-0857 or (517) 592-2786.
There was 3 to 5 inches of ice on many lakes in Oakland County, less on the larger, deeper lakes. Anglers were fishing, but caution is advised. The panfish bite has been good on some of the smaller lakes in the Bald Mountain Recreation Area and anglers report a good northern pike bite, too. A few rabbits have been taken at Proud Lake and Bald Mountain recreation areas. There was a couple inches of snow on the ground. Coyote hunting has been good.
Lakes Village Stop/Mobile Gas Station, (248) 693-4565.
Walleye fishing remains pretty good in Lake Erie. Bolles Harbor was still open and boat anglers have been catching good numbers of fish at the Dumping Grounds. Crankbaits fished in 20 feet of water have produced good results. The ramp at Sterling State Park has frozen over, but was not safe for ice fishing. There was no snow on the ground.
Domka Outdoors, (734) 244-5240.
Ice conditions are improving with colder temperatures seeping into the area. Anglers are fishing on most of the area lakes, but fishing success has been spotty. There was between 5 and 8 inches of ice and anglers are reminded to always use extreme caution. Carter Lake has produced a pretty good bluegill bite and light numbers of pike have been caught, too. Panfish action has started to take off on Thornapple Lake. There was no snow on the ice and a couple of inches of crusty snow in the woods. Those calling coyotes report good success and rabbit hunting has been good, too.
Al and Pete’s Sport Shop, (269) 945-4417.
Ice was running between 4 and 5 inches thick on most lakes in the area. Light numbers of panfish have been caught on Long, Clear and Pleasant lakes. A few walleyes have been caught on Clear and pike fishing has been pretty good on Pleasant. Coyote and rabbit hunting has been light.
Halls Bait and Tackle, (269) 641-2304.
Ice conditions are improving on lakes in Branch County, where there is about 5 inches of ice on most lakes. Crappies, perch and pike have been hitting on Gillead, Randall and Cary. There was no snow on the ice or in the woods. Hunting pressure has been light.
Hoskins Bait House, (517) 369-1330.
Ice has finally formed on Gun Lake. Anglers report fishing on between 4 and 8 inches of ice and catching fair numbers of crappies, walleyes and pike. The best action has been in 10 to 15 feet of water, 7 feet down along the breaks and holes. One angler caught a nice batch of 10-inch bluegills on Payne Lake. There was just a dusting of snow on the ground. Coyote and rabbit hunting pressure has been light.
Gillett’s Bait and Hardware, (269) 672-5371.
Saginaw Bay Area
There was up to 5 inches of ice near shore on Saginaw Bay, stretching out about out a quarter mile between Standish and Bay City. Anglers are able to ice fish in up to 8 feet of water, but the walleye bite has been fair at best. Extreme caution is advised as the ice has not frozen evenly. Anglers are also advised to beware of a west or southwest wind, which will push the ice out into the open water. Most of the boat ramps have iced up so boat anglers were having trouble accessing the open water.
Linwood Party and Sporting Goods, (989) 697-3825.
Franks Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.
Ice was running between 4 and 8 inches on most lakes. Anglers report good bluegill and crappie action on Idlewild, Big Star, Little Star and Wolf lakes. Hunting pressure has been light.
Baldwin Bait & Tackle, (231) 745-3529.
Ed’s Sport Shop, (231) 745-4974, www.edsports.com.
Ice was running up to 12 inches thick on lakes in Isabella County. Fishing has been a little on the slow side. Bluegills have produced the best action of late with a decent bite being reported from anglers fishing on the Martini Chain of Lakes. Walleye and crappie fishing has been slow, but pike action remains pretty good. There was about 5 inches of snow on the ice and 8 inches in the woods. Rabbit and coyote hunting have been good.
Schafer’s Bait & Sporting Goods, (989) 644-3501.
There was between 4 and 7 inches of ice on Pere Marquette Lake and perch fishing has been pretty good. Anglers are sorting through the small ones to find the keepers, but the action has been good Those fishing with minnows, wigglers, wax worms and spikes report catching fish off Buttersville and Copeyon. Steelhead fishing has been quiet on the Pere Marquette River. There was just a dusting of snow on the ground and hunting pressure has been light.
Captain Chuck’s Fishing, Hunting and Archery, (231) 843-4458.
There was 5 to 10 inches of ice in the Waterfowl Bay and Mud Creek area in Lake Huron and anglers are getting after the walleyes. A few perch and pike have been caught, too. Minnows are producing the best action. Lake trout are hitting off the breakwall in Caseville where there is 3 to 5 inches of ice. The whitefish are starting to move in and that fishery should start producing any day. Light numbers of big perch are hitting in the harbor where there was 4 to 7 inches of ice over 10 to 12 feet of water. Numbers are light, but the fish have been big. Bluegills are hitting at Bayshore. There was 3 to 4 inches of snow on the ground. Coyote hunting has been very good.
Walsh Gun & Tackle, (989) 856-4465.
Fishing has slowed a bit at Port Huron as anglers start preparing for the upcoming open-water season. A few anglers are getting out in the cuts and canals and catching panfish. Light numbers of steelhead, coho, walleyes, whitefish and burbot have been caught in the St. Clair River just north of the Black River. Minnows have produced the best bite. Steelhead and brown trout have been caught at Lexington, but the ice has deteriorated and anglers can no longer get out to the fish. There was no snow on the ground. Rabbit hunting has been pretty good.
Anderson’s Pro Bait, (810) 984-3232.
Traverse City Area
Fishing success and ice conditions have improved. There was 10 to 12 inches of ice on South Lake Leelanau and anglers there are catching fair numbers of walleyes on tip-ups baited with a minnow. Fish have been caught in waters between 15 and 50 feet deep, depending on the time of day. East and West Grand Traverse bays are wide open and a few boat anglers are jigging up lake trout there. The best bite has been on jigging spoons fished in 110 to 150 feet of water. There was up to 24 inches of snow in the woods. Squirrel hunting has been good, but hunting pressure has been light. Coyote hunting also has been good and ‘yote numbers are up in the area.
WildFishing Guide Service, www.wildfishing.com.
Ice was running up between 9 and 13 inches on most of the smaller lakes in the area. Some of the bigger lakes like Elk are still tightening up. Skegemog Lake is producing a pretty good perch bite in 7 to 12 feet of water. Minnows and wigglers are producing the best action. Some decent pike have been caught there, too. Bear Lake has produced a good brown trout bite on tip-ups with a blue shiner or jigging with spoons. Guernsey Lake and Starvation Lake are also producing a good brown trout bite. Hunting pressure has been light. Coyote hunting has been good.
Jack’s Sport Shop, (231) 258-8892.
Ice was in good shape on lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, but fishing has slowed a bit. Fair numbers of crappies are hitting on Lake Mitchell and light numbers of walleyes are hitting along the drop-offs on both Mitchell and Cadillac. Pike fishing has been hit-or-miss with a lot of hammer handles being caught. There was 13 to 15 inches of ice on the lakes and anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of snow on top. Rabbit hunting has been fair. Hunting pressure has been light.
Pilgrim Village Fishing Shop, (231) 775-5412.
Houghton Lake Area
Ice is cooperating. Snow is cooperating. But the fish are being a little stubborn. The best success has been at sunrise and sunset. The middle of the day has been slower. Bluegills and crappies are hitting but anglers have to drill a lot of holes to stay on top of the schools. Good action has been reported inside the weedbeds.
Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.
Higgins Lake Area
Smelt action has been pretty good on Higgins Lake. The best action has been in 40 to 60 feet of water Some have been caught during the day, but the most have been caught at night. Lake trout fishing also has been good including one 30-pound, 40-inch fish that was caught on a tip-up. Lakers are hitting in 805 feet of water or more. Anglers report catching pike; fishing has slowed down a little, but decent numbers are still being caught including one 4-inch, 20-pounder. Perch fishing is improving, but a lot of little ones have been caught. There was 8 to 10 inches of ice on Higgins with about 4 inches of snow on top.
Sportsman’s Barn, (989) 821-9511
Mullett Lake is producing a decent mixed bag of walleyes, bluegills, perch and pike. Anglers report a pretty good splake bite on Clear Lake and pike fishing has been good on Tomahawk Lake. Fishing has been slow on Black Lake. Ice is running between 8 and 12 inches on all of the lakes with 5 to 6 inches of snow on top. Hunting pressure has been light. A few hunters are still chasing coyotes and enjoying good success.
Parrott’s Outpost, (989) 733-2472.
Walleyes fishing has been good on Munuscong Bay. Anglers report catching fish all over the bay, along with good numbers of perch and northern pike, too. Jigs and minnows have been the hot bait. Ice was running up to 18 inches with a several inches of snow on top. There is a walleye tournament on Munuscong Bay, March 13-14. Down on Lake Huron, the ice thickness varied, but good numbers of perch and pike have been caught at Cedarville. A few splake have been caught, too. Extreme caution is advised as there was still open water in many areas. There was about 2 feet of snow in the woods. Predator hunting has been good.
Wilderness Treasures, (906) 647-4002.
Drummond Island Area
Ice conditions are pretty good around Drummond Island. Pike spearers report good success along the shore in Scotts Bay where there is 18 inches of ice over 6 feet of water. Good numbers of perch have been hitting at the mouth of Harbor Island where there is 12 inches of ice over 20 feet of water. The perch are averaging 8 to 10 inches with a couple over 12 inches. There was about 6 inches of snow on the ice and 20 inches in the woods. Coyote hunting has been good, but hunting pressure has been light.
Johnson’s Sport Shop, (906) 493-6300.
Fishing has been pretty good on Manistique Lakes. Ice was running between 8 and 24 inches, but there are some slush pockets so caution is advised. Several bigger pike have been speared on Big Manistique. Anglers report catching a mixed bag of walleyes, pike and panfish on both South Manistique and Big Manistique lakes. There was about 6 inches of snow on the ice and up to 3 feet in the woods. Hunting pressure has been light.
Mick’s Bait Shop, (906) 586-6040.
Fishing has improved on Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc. The entire bay is finally frozen and walleye anglers report good action. The bigger fish have been caught to the south. A good bite has been reported south of the Ford River including walleyes up to 13 pounds. Pike fishing has been very good, too. Perch are hitting north of Gladstone with fish up to 14 and 15 inches being caught. There was up to 18 inches of ice at the north end of the bay, 12 around the Escanaba River, and less the farther south you go. There was just a couple inches of snow on the ice.
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.
Iron Mountain Area
Fishing has been fair around Iron Mountain, but access to most lakes is difficult. There was a heavy, wet snowstorm; people drove through it and plowed it to the sides, then frigid weather came and the rutted slush stiffened up. Ice was safe for foot traffic and snowmobiles. There was very difficult access to the Mine Ponds because the roads tore up, then froze. Walleyes have been caught on the Brule Backwaters. A couple of anglers reported poor ice conditions on Paint Pond. A few panfish have been caught on Lake Antoine. There was about 2 feet of snow on the ground and about 10 inches of slush on the ice. Hare hunting has been decent.
Northwoods Wilderness Outfitters, (906) 774-9009.
There was good ice, between 8 and 10 inches, out to the Pump House just outside of Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Bay. Anglers are jigging up good numbers of splake and coho salmon. There also have been a few reports of some nice sized browns being caught, including one that weighed 11.6 pounds. There’s about 12 inches of snow on the ground, but hunting pressure has been light.
Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.
Lake Gogebic ice and travel conditions remain good with no recent amounts of snow. The bite has been slow the last few days with anglers reporting marks on Vexilars rising to the bait, then dropping back off. The walleye bite has been slow with some catching fish while jigging in 27 to 32 feet of water and others still working shallower water in 9 to 14 feet. The best action has been during low-light periods. The perch bite has slowed with a lot of lookers and not so many takers. Some anglers had fair reports when fishing in 24 to 29 feet of water over the mud. Wigglers and spikes have produced good results for those willing to put in the time.
Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.
Iron River Area
Panfish action has been good on most lakes in Iron County including Chicagon, Fortune and Michigamme. Tough travel conditions have been reported by anglers on many lakes due to rutted slush freezing solid. There was a forecast for 40-degree daytime temperatures in the near future so anglers were hoping the surfaces would melt down a little and smooth out. There is 15 to 24 inches of ice on the lakes. Caution is advised as some lakes, like Chicagon, were still soft in the middle. There was a couple of feet of snow in the woods and rabbit hunting has been difficult for beagles. Coyote hunting has been pretty good.
Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.