Report from the Dock
There was thin ice on some of the small shallow lakes at the western end of the Upper Peninsula and a few anglers were spudding their way out and back. Extreme caution is urged when heading out on the ice since it does not freeze evenly.
Call ahead before you go out on the ice and be sure to use a spud and check the ice thickness as you go. Never fish alone, wear a life jacket, and carry ice picks and a rope.
Steelhead fishing remains a viable option on the St. Joe, Grand, Pere Marquette, Manistee, Boardman and a host of other rivers across the state. Wax worms, wigglers, spawn, flies, beads, spinners, and crankbaits have all caught fish.
Skim ice was forming on some of the smaller lakes in lower Michigan but nothing was safe for foot traffic. With temperatures in the 40s and 50s in the forecast the immediate future didn’t look good for ice.
A few boaters are still getting out on lakes Erie and St. Clair and on Saginaw Bay and catching good numbers of walleyes and perch.
Lake St. Clair
Walleye action remains very good on Lake St. Clair from the mouth of the St. Clair River up to Metro Beach. A few boats are still getting out, but the season is winding down fast. Bandits have been the bait of choice.
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.
Irish Hills Area
Skim ice was forming on inland lakes in Jackson County, but temperatures in the 40 and 50 were in the forecast so it wasn’t likely to stick around for long. Most anglers are getting their ice gear in order so they’ll be ready to go when safe ice forms. The late archery and antlerless seasons have been decent. There are still a lot of deer in the area.
Knutson’s Sporting Goods, (800) 292-0857 or (517) 592-2786.
Anglers were catching walleye and some perch around Fermi and Stony Point. Those trolling Bandits in 23 to 26 feet of water reported the best success. The action has been slow and steady with a few anglers catching limits. Up on the Huron River, anglers report catching light numbers of steelhead below the Flatrock Dam.
Domka Outdoors, (734) 244-5240.
St. Joseph Area
There was no safe ice on inland lakes in the area and above freezing temperatures were in the forecast. Light numbers of steelhead have been caught in the St. Joe and Kalamazoo rivers. Spawn, wax worms, flies, beads, and spinners have all had their moments to shine. Deer numbers are in good shape and the late archery and late antlerless seasons should be good. Hunting pressure has been light.
Silver Beach Fishing, (269) 338-3182.
Grand Rapids Area
Steelhead have been caught in the Grand River but numbers have been light as has the fishing pressure. Muzzleloader deer season was good and the late archery and late antlerless seasons also should be good, weather permitting.
Al & Bob’s Sports, (616) 245-9156.
Saginaw Bay Area
Anglers were having success catching walleyes in Saginaw Bay in about 15 feet of water along the north shore of the bay. Perch have been caught in 17 to 21 feet of water off Linwood Road. Anglers are moving around to find active fish. Stickbaits and jigs both performed well for walleyes. Deer numbers remain in good shape and the late archery and antlerless seasons should be good.
Linwood Party and Sporting Goods, (989) 697-3825.
Franks Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.
Anglers jigging for whitefish in the channel between Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan were finding the action to be very slow. Those having success were using small jigging spoons. There are still a lot of deer around and the late archery and late antlerless seasons should be good.
Fish-on Charters and Bait, (616) 402-4307.
Grand Haven Area
Pier anglers on Lake Michigan targeting steelhead were finding the action to be slow. No whitefish reports yet. Deer hunting remains good with the late archery and late antlerless seasons running through Jan. 1.
Lakeview Marine & Tackle, (616) 842-2770.
Lake trout are being caught in Lake Huron. Anglers casting minnows or 3⁄4-ounce Cleos from the breakwall report good success. Walleye fishing has been good, too. Deer hunters are still having good luck in the late archery and late antlerless seasons. Hunting pressure has lightened up a little.
Walsh Gun & Tackle, (989) 856-4465.
Anglers are catching light numbers of walleye and steelhead in the St. Clair River from Port Huron to Marine City. Jig-and-minnow combos have produced the best bites. Anglers are also catching light number of yellow perch at the mouth of the Black River (St. Clair County) and near Algonac. Minnows have been the hot bait. The late archery and late antlerless seasons have been fair. Hunting pressure has been light.
Anderson’s Pro Bait, (810) 984-3232.
There was no ice on Burt or Mullett lakes yet, but the water temperature was dropping and there was cold weather in the forecast so it should start icing up soon. There was 3 to 4 inches of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light.
Pat & Gary’s Party Store, (231) 238-6776.
Traverse City Area
No one was ice fishing yet, but some of the smaller lakes had ice forming before a foot of snow arrived last week. Steelhead fishing has been decent on the Boardman, Betsie, and Big Manistee rivers. Fish are in their winter patterns so target the deeper holes with wax worms and small spawn bags. Late season deer hunters are still seeing deer, but hunting pressure has been light.
WildFishing Guide Service, www.wildfishing.com.
Ice had started forming along shore on lakes Cadillac and Mitchell when Mother Nature greeted the area with a foot of snow. The snow froze on the surface of the water, but it’s very soft ice. There was warm weather in the forecast and the hope is that the soft ice will melt and start over again after the warm spell. The late archery and late antlerless seasons have been decent. Hunters are seeing fair numbers of whitetails.
Pilgrim Village Fishing Shop, (231) 775-5412.
Some of the smaller lakes and shallow bays had ice, but foot traffic was not recommended. With above freezing temperatures in the forecast what little ice there was is likely to melt. Hunting pressure has been light, but coyote and grouse hunting has been fair. Deer hunting pressure has been very light with few reports of success.
Skip’s Sport Shop, (989) 348-7111.
Old Au Sable Fly Shop, (989) 348-3330
Houghton Lake Area
There was no safe ice on Houghton Lake. Ice was forming, but temperatures in the 40s were in the forecast so most of the ice is likely to melt. There was about 2 to 3 inches of snow on the ground. Late archery and late antlerless seasons have been fair.
Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.
Hubbard Lake Area
Anglers willing to get out on Hubbard Lake on a boat prior to freezing up may find aggressive walleye in 15 to 25 feet of water off points and rocky areas. Try casting Puppet Minnows or jigging Rapalas.
South Shore Party Store, (989) 736-6418.
Some ice was forming on shallow lakes in the area, but none was safe for foot traffic. There was warm weather in the forecast. Hunting pressure has been light. Grouse numbers are in good shape. The season runs through Jan. 1. The regular elk season should be good.
Elk Country Outfitters NEMI, (989) 306-0720, www.ElkCountryOutfittersNEMI.com.
Atlantic salmon have been caught in the lower Au Sable River from Foote Dam to the mouth at Lake Huron. Steelhead continue to show up for over-winter staging. Try minnows, spawn bags, or egg-pattern flies in deeper holes behind shallow gravel stretches. Hunting pressure has been light.
Wellman’s Sport Center, (989) 739-2869.
There was up to 4 inches of ice on Munuscong Bay, but there is a foot of snow on top so it is not safe for foot traffic yet. A few boat anglers are still getting out and catching decent numbers of walleyes. Hunting pressure has been very light.
Wilderness Treasures, (906) 647-4002.
Manistique Lakes have between 1 and 3 inches of ice and there is a couple inches of snow on top. Anglers are advised to wait for solid ice as the lakes do not freeze evenly. Hunting pressure has been very light and action has been slow.
Mick’s Bait Shop, (906) 586-6040.
Ice was forming in the near-shore sheltered and shallow areas of Little and Big Bays de Noc, but much of the bays remained open water. Anglers are advised to wait until the bays stiffen up before heading out on foot. Late archery season has been slow and hunting pressure has been light.
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.
Some of the inland lakes in the L’Anse area have frozen over. Anglers are walking out on Laws, Burns, Vermilac, and Alberta Pond where there was between 3 and 5 inches of ice. Anglers are advised to use extreme caution as the lakes do not freeze evenly. Anglers report catching mixed bags of bluegills, crappies, walleyes, and pike. Skim ice is forming on Keweenaw Bay but nothing safe for foot traffic yet. There was a few inches of snow on the ground. Late season deer hunters are still at it, but action has been slow.
Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.
Anglers were sneaking out on some of the shallow bays on Lake Gogebic and catching a few walleyes and perch. Heavy snow arrived last week and conditions are now very sketchy. Anglers are advised to wait for solid ice to form. Late grouse and deer hunting seasons should be decent.
Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.
Iron River Area
Anglers have been able to get out on some of the smaller lakes like Iron, Stanley, Emily and Fortune where there was between 3 and 5 inches of ice. Warm temperatures were in the forecast but there was about 8 inches of snow on top of the ice so anglers are hoping the ice stays strong. Anglers are advised to use extreme caution when heading out. A few walleyes and light numbers of crappies have been caught. The late archery season should be good.
Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.
— The DNR contributed to this report.