Report From the Dock
Ice fishing season is under way in most areas of the state. The shallower lakes have frozen faster than the deeper ones, so extreme caution is advised. Lakes do not freeze evenly. Carry a spud and check the ice as you go. Call ahead for an update on ice conditions. Never fish alone. Wear a life jacket. Carry ice picks and have a long length of sturdy rope in your sled in case someone does fall through.
Ice conditions were mixed in southern Michigan with between 2 and 6 inches on most of the smaller inland lakes. A few anglers were sneaking out but most were waiting for solid ice to form.
In the northern Lower Peninsula, lakes like Burt, Van Etten, Cadillac, Mitchell, the south arm of Charlevoix, and Houghton had between 4 and 10 inches of ice. Most of the smaller lakes had at least enough ice for walking.
On Upper Peninsula lakes, anglers were reporting up to a foot of ice and some were taking snowmobiles and quads out. Be sure to call ahead for updated ice conditions and always check the ice as you go. Watch out for freeze cracks and pressure heaves.
Steelhead fishing remains decent on most of the bigger rivers including the St. Joe, Grand, Pere Marquette, Manistee, Au Sable, and others.
Lake St. Clair
The ice wasn’t safe yet on Lake St. Clair where there’s only between 2 to 4 inches. With colder weather in the forecast the lake should tighten up soon.
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.
Anglers were sneaking out on some of the smaller inland lakes in northern Oakland County where there was between 2 and 6 inches of ice. Be sure to check the ice with a spud as you go since the lakes aren’t freezing evenly. Rabbit and squirrel hunting has been good at Bald Mountain and Pontiac Lake state recreation areas. There was just a couple inches of snow on the ground. The urban deer management archery deer hunt continues in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties through the end of January.
Lakes Village Stop/Mobile Gas Station, (248) 693-4565.
Ice was forming in the western basin of Lake Erie but recent high winds have broken it up. The bays at Sterling State Park and Bolles Harbor had between 2 and 5 inches of ice and a few anglers were walking out. Anglers are urged to use extreme caution and to check the ice with a spud as they go. The perch bite has been good, but most of fish have been small. Anglers were sorting for the bigger ones.
Domka Outdoors, (734) 244-5240.
St. Joseph Area
A few steelhead have been caught on the St. Joseph River. Spawn, beads, waxworms, spinners, and flies have all taken fish. Inland lakes were tightening up, and – with cold weather in the forecast – should be good for foot traffic in the coming days.
Silver Beach Fishing, (269) 338-3182.
Anglers are fishing on Paw Paw Lake and report catching fair numbers of panfish and northern pike. Extreme caution is urged as lakes are not freezing evenly. Hunting pressure has been light. There are good numbers of coyotes in the area.
Ellinee Bait and Tackle, (269) 468-7522.
There was good ice on most inland lakes in the area, but some are still a little thin, so be cautious. Crappies and bluegills are hitting on Thornapple Lake. Bluegills are hitting on Carter lake, too. There was about 2 inches of snow on the ground. Rabbit and squirrel hunting has been good and predator hunters are running coyotes.
Al and Pete’s Sport Shop, (269) 945-4417.
Saginaw Bay Area
There was up to 6 inches of ice in the shallows on Saginaw Bay, but there is still open water farther out in the bay. Anglers are walking out close to shore and catching a few decent perch in 2 to 3 feet of water. Good numbers of northern pike have been caught, too. A few walleyes have been caught through 3 to 4 inches of ice on the Saginaw River. Coyote hunting has been pretty good. Squirrel and rabbit hunting has been slow.
Linwood Party and Sporting Goods, (989) 697-3825.
Frank’s Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.
There was up to 5 inches of solid ice on Coldwater and Littlefield lakes. Most of the other lakes have between 6 and 8 inches. Anglers report a good walleye bite on Coldwater and Stevenson lakes and a few pike on Stevenson, too. Panfish are hitting on most of the other lakes in the area. There was about 7 inches of snow on the ground. Coyote hunting has been very good.
Schafer’s Bait & Sporting Goods, (989) 644-3501.
There was about 5 inches of ice on one side of Hamlin Lake and 3 inches on the other. Up to 2 feet of snow is not helping the ice firm up. Anglers are catching pike on the north bayou and bluegills and crappies on the south bayou. Fair numbers of perch and pike have been caught on Pere Marquette Lake. Rabbit, squirrel, and coyote hunting pressure has been light.
Captain Chuck’s Fishing, Hunting and Archery, (231) 843-4458.
There was between 4 and 6 inches of ice on Burt Lake, but less on Mullett. Perch and walleye fishing has been pretty good on Burt but anglers are reminded to always use caution. There was up to a foot of snow in the woods. Coyote hunting has been pretty good.
Pat & Gary’s Party Store, (231) 238-6776.
East Jordan Area
Ice was running up to 6 inches thick on the south arm of Lake Charlevoix. There is no ice on the main lake. Northern pike and walleyes are keeping anglers busy around Ironton. A few perch have been caught, too. Most of the smaller lakes like Six Mile have up to 6 inches of ice. Anglers report catching walleyes and perch on Six Mile, and splake are hitting on Thumb Lake under 6 to 8 inches of ice. There was about 8 inches of snow in the woods. There are a lot of coyotes in the area and predator hunting should be good.
Tom’s Bait & Tackle, (231) 536-3521.
There was between 7 and 10 inches of ice on lakes Cadillac and Mitchell. Anglers are catching more fish on Mitchell, but the bigger fish have been caught on Cadillac. Anglers are catching good numbers of perch and crappies along with fair numbers of walleyes. Minnows or waxworms threaded on a tear drop are catching the perch and crappies. Walleyes are hitting jigging spoons tipped with a minnow or a minnow head. A few steelhead are still being caught in the Manistee and Pere Marquette rivers. There was about 8 inches of snow in the woods. Coyote hunting has been very good.
Pilgrim Village Fishing Shop, (231) 775-5412.
Houghton Lake Area
Fishing has been good on Houghton Lake where there was up to 8 inches of ice in many areas. Anglers report catching a good mixed bag of fish including bluegills, perch, walleyes, and northern pike. Predator hunting has been decent, but high winds and single-digit temperatures have made hunting a little tough.
Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.
There was up to 8 inches of ice on Lake Margrethe where anglers report catching good numbers of pike and walleyes in 20 feet of water. Walleyes and panfish are hitting on Manistee Lake. Walleyes are being caught on jigging spoons and minnows while panfish are hitting tear drops and waxworms or spikes. Otsego Lake has produced a good bite for perch and walleyes. There was between 4 and 6 inches of snow in the woods. Predator hunting has been pretty good. Hound hunters report the best action so far. Callers are just getting started.
Skip’s Sport Shop, (989) 348-7111.
Old Au Sable Fly Shop, (989) 348-3330
Higgins Lake Area
Higgins Lake finally has frozen over, and there is between 4 and 6 inches of ice. Anglers are advised to use extreme caution when venturing out. Rainbow trout and brown trout are hitting in front of the conference center in 2 to 4 feet of water. Pike fishing has been good at the south end of the lake and reports of a few perch being caught have come from anglers fishing off the American Legion camp. There was up to 7 inches of snow in the woods. Predator hunting has been quiet.
Sportsman’s Barn, (989) 821-9511.
There was up to 6 inches of ice on most of the inland lakes in the area. Walleyes are hitting on Foote Dam Pond and perch are keeping anglers busy on Van Etten Lake. Good numbers of northern pike are being speared in some of the marinas along the Au Sable River. Steelhead and Atlantic salmon are hitting in the Au Sable. Spawn and beads are both producing good results. There was about 3 inches of snow in the woods. Coyote hunting has been fair.
Wellman’s Sport Center, (989) 739-2869.
There was between 5 and 8 inches of ice in the interior of Munuscong Bay. Walleyes and perch are hitting minnows. Perch have produced the hottest bite. Down at Cedarville, the ice was forming but anglers need to use extreme caution as there was about 5 inches of ice at best. Waxworms and minnows are catching perch, and a few splake are hitting at Hessel. There was about 2 feet of snow in the woods, more to the north. Coyote hunting has been very good.
Wilderness Treasures, (906) 647-4002.
Drummond Island Area
There was between 8 and 12 inches of ice in Scotts and Maxton bays around Drummond Island. Anglers re spearing northern pike in the shallows in both bays. Perch fishing has been slow because anglers can’t get out to the middle grounds, yet. There was about 6 inches of snow in the woods. Rabbit and coyote hunting have been fair.
Johnson’s Sport Shop, (906) 493-6300.
There is between 7 and 14 inches of ice on Manistique Lakes. Anglers venturing out are urged to use caution and beware of freeze cracks. Anglers report catching a mixed bag of bluegills, perch, walleyes, and northern pike. The ’gills are hitting tear drops and waxworms. Minnows are attracting perch and walleyes, and the pike are hitting sucker minnows. The Frostbite Pike Contest will take place Jan. 29.
Mick’s Bait Shop, (906) 586-6040.
Anglers report catching decent numbers of northern pike and perch and a few walleyes on Lake Independence where there was about a foot of ice. Good numbers of walleyes are being caught under a foot of ice on Teal Lake. There was about 18 inches of snow in the woods. Cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare are keeping hunters busy.
Jonny’s Outdoors, (906) 235-2894.
Ice was running between 8 and 10 inches thick north of Gladstone on Little Bay de Noc. There was 4 inches or less at the south end of the bay. Good numbers of walleyes and perch have been caught along with fair numbers of northern pike. Minnows have produced good results for the walleyes and perch, and suckers or chubs are attracting pike. There was up to 2 feet of snow in some areas and access to some inland lakes is limited. Most of the inland lakes have about 10 inches of ice. Predator hunting has been fair.
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.
Keweenaw Bay still has open water. There have been some colder temperatures in the area and the water is cooling, but no ice yet. Anglers on Huron Bay report catching a mixed bag of walleye, pike, and a few whitefish between Pine Point and the township park, under 6 to 8 inches of ice. One angler caught a northern that was over 20 pounds. Inland lakes have up to 12 inches of ice and anglers report good walleye and bluegill action on Vermilac. Alberta pond is producing brook trout and perch. There was 8 to 12 inches of snow in the woods. Predator hunting and trapping have both been productive.
Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.
Travel conditions remain good on Lake Gogebic with an average of 10 inches of ice on the main lake and 10 to 15 inches of snow. Recent fresh snow and wind has caused some drifting. The perch bite remains slow with anglers working 20 to 24 feet of water. Anglers are marking lots of fish but they’re not biting very well. Walleye reports are mixed. The best action has come from anglers in 6 to 8 feet of water and out in 25 to 27 feet. Jigging spoons and tip-ups are both catching fish.
Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.
There was up to 8 inches of ice on inland lakes in the Keweenaw Peninsula and anglers are catching decent numbers of fish. Walleyes and perch are hitting minnows fished on Portage and Gratiot lakes. There was up to 12 inches of snow on the ground. Predator hunting has been good.
Northwoods Sporting Goods, (906) 482-5210.
Iron River Area
Inland lakes are holding about 12 inches of ice. Perch fishing has been good on most lakes and a few walleyes have been caught, too. Try Chicagon, Stanley and Michigamme for starters. There was up to 8 inches of snow in the woods.
Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.