Report from the Dock
Steelhead fishing remains a good bet on most traditional steelhead streams up and down the Great Lakes. Good reports have come from anglers fishing on the St. Clair, Au Sable, Carp, Silver, Betsie, Boardman, Manistee, Muskegon, Grand, St. Joe, and other popular rivers.
The fish are past the spawn stage and are favoring insects and minnow imitations. Try wax worms, wigglers, beads, or spinners. Even crankbaits are taking steelies on some waters.
The word that sums up ice fishing? Dismal.
From slush-covered lakes in parts of the Upper Peninsula to solid ice that has either melted away completely or at best melted down to thin ice in the south, ice fishing has stalled, big time.
Warm temperatures and rain arrived as the new year moved in and ice conditions declined. There is still some solid ice in parts of the Upper Peninsula but most ice in the Lower has deteriorated to unsafe conditions.
Extreme caution is urged when heading out on the ice. Remember, ice does not freeze evenly.
Call ahead before you venture out and be sure to use a spud and check ice thickness as you go. Never fish alone. Wear a life jacket or float suit, and carry ice picks and a rope.
Lake St. Clair
Ice started to form in the bays and canals on Lake St. Clair, but balmy temperatures and rain put an end to ice fishing for now. Call ahead when cold weather returns to check on ice conditions.
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.
Irish Hills Area
Ice was forming on inland lakes, but warm weather and rain put a halt to winter for the time being.
Knutson’s Sporting Goods, (800) 292-0857 or (517) 592-2786.
Walleye fishing remains pretty good on the Detroit River, but fishing pressure has been very light.
Bottom Line Bait & Tackle, (734) 379-9762.
Trenton Lighthouse, (734) 675-7080.
Horse Island Tackle, (734) 692-9839.
St. Joseph Area
There was no safe ice on inland lakes in St. Joseph County. The steelhead bite remains pretty good on the St. Joe River, but fishing pressure has been light.
Silver Beach Fishing, (269) 338-3182.
Inland lakes were frozen for a few days, then warm temps and rain moved in and halted ice fishing.
Ellinee Bait and Tackle, (269) 468-7522.
Grand Rapids Area
Steelhead fishing has been good on the Grand River up to the Ninth Street Bridge. Wax worms, wigglers, spinners, and crankbaits all have caught fish.
Al & Bob’s Sports, (616) 245-9156.
Saginaw Bay Area
Shore ice was forming on Saginaw Bay until warm temperatures, high winds and rain arrived and put a damper on things. Anglers are advised to call ahead to check the conditions.
Linwood Party and Sporting Goods, (989) 697-3825.
Franks Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.
There was up to 7 inches of ice on inland lakes in the area and fishing was very good for a few days. Then warm weather and rain arrived and the ice started to melt. Anglers should call ahead for updates.
Schafer’s Bait & Sporting Goods, (989) 644-3501.
Steelhead fishing has been decent on the Muskegon and Grand rivers. Try waxies, wigglers, beads, spinners, or cranks. There was no safe ice on inland lakes.
Fish-on Charters and Bait, (616) 402-4307.
There was a little ice on Lake Huron, with up to 4 inches in the shallows, but with warm weather and high winds in the forecast it wasn’t expected to last long. Anglers are advised to call ahead to check on the ice conditions. Good numbers of perch had been caught through the ice at Bayshore and in Caseville. There was no snow on the ground. Coyote hunting has been good.
Walsh Gun & Tackle, (989) 856-4465.
Ice had formed in the harbors and on the Black River at Port Huron but warm weather, high winds, and rain put a damper on things and melted what little ice there was. Fair numbers of walleyes have been caught in the St. Clair River and a few silver fish are starting to show up. Hunting pressure has been light.
Anderson’s Pro Bait, (810) 984-3232.
East Jordan Area
There was no good ice on Lake Charlevoix. Inland lakes had ice, but there was a lot of water on top. Fishing had been good with good numbers of northern pike being caught in the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix before warm weather moved in. Anglers are advised to call ahead for updates and to use extreme caution when heading out. Use a spud and carry ice picks.
Tom’s Bait & Tackle, (231) 536-3521.
Traverse City Area
Inland lakes skimmed over and started to freeze, then warm weather moved in and the ice melted. There was still a foot of snow on the ground, but with warm weather and rain in the forecast it wasn’t expected to last. Anglers are advised to use extreme caution and to call ahead for ice conditions. Steelhead fishing has been pretty good on the Boardman, Betsie, and Manistee rivers. Wax worms and beads are producing good results. Coyote hunting has been good.
WildFishing Guide Service, www.wildfishing.com.
Walleye fishing has been good during low light conditions on lakes Cadillac and Mitchell. There was up to 6 inches of ice, less in some areas with a foot of snow on top so use extreme caution. With warm weather and rain in the forecast, anglers are advised to call ahead for updated ice conditions. Predator hunting has been good.
Pilgrim Village Fishing Shop, (231) 775-5412.
Ice was running up to 4 inches thick on Lake Margrethe, Otsego Lake, and other inland lakes in the area but it’s covered with slush. A couple anglers were getting out in west bay on Margarethe but reported very little success. Anglers are advised to call ahead for an update on ice conditions because there was warm weather and rain in the forecast. There was about a foot of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light.
Skip’s Sport Shop, (989) 348-7111.
Old Au Sable Fly Shop, (989) 348-3330
Houghton Lake Area
Houghton Lake had 4 to 8 inches of ice in East Bay with a foot of snow on top. A few walleyes, pike, and bass have been caught. There was still open water in the middle of the lake and extreme caution is advised. There is about 10 inches of snow on the ice with warm weather and rain in the forecast. Call ahead for ice updates. Predator hunting has been good, but hunting pressure has been light.
Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.
Higgins Lake Area
There was no safe ice on Higgins Lake. Michigan’s 12th largest inland lake was starting to freeze over but with warm temperatures and rain in the forecast no one was expecting ice in the near future. Anglers are advised to call ahead for updates. Hunting pressure has been light, but coyote activity is heating up.
Sportsman’s Barn, (989) 821-9511
There was about 7 inches of ice on Munuscong Bay with about 30 inches of snow on top. Fishing pressure has been light. When anglers do get out, good numbers of perch have been caught. Splake have been caught on Hessel Bay where there was 18 inches of snow on the ice. Predator hunting has been very good.
Wilderness Treasures, (906) 647-4002.
Drummond Island Area
Ice was tightening up in the bays around Drummond Island but with warm temperatures in the forecast anglers would do well to call ahead before venturing out. Coyote and rabbit hunting have been pretty good.
Drummond Island Outfitters, (906) 493-6300.
St. Ignace Area
Anglers were getting out on Brevoort Lake and catching fair numbers of walleyes and panfish. Coyote hunting has been very good.
Ace Hardware, (906) 643-7721.
Inland lakes are frozen, but fishing pressure has been light with a lot of snow on top of the ice. Warm temperatures have melted some of the snow so now there is a lot of slush. Use extreme caution and check the ice as you go. Coyote hunting has been good.
Jonny’s Outdoors, (906) 235-2894.
Ice was still forming on most of Little Bay de Noc, but there was between 4 and 6 inches close to shore. Anglers were walking out and catching good numbers of walleyes at the north end of the bay and perch down by Escanaba. There was about 6 inches of snow on the ice with high winds causing some drifting.
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.
There was up to 6 inches of ice at the head of Huron Bay and a few anglers were heading out. There was still open water farther out in the bay. Extreme caution is advised. A good walleye bite has been reported in the evenings. Inland lakes have up to 8 inches of ice with slush on top, but anglers are getting out and catching good numbers of panfish and pike on most lakes. Keweenaw Bay still had open water but is starting to freeze. No one was fishing on Keweenaw Bay yet. Coyote hunting has been good.
Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.
Fishing pressure has been light along the Keweenaw Peninsula. Ice was running up to 6 inches on Chassel Bay and a few anglers had their shacks out. There was about a foot of snow on the ice, but with warm weather in the forecast most of the snow is expected to melt. Inland lakes are locked up but there were no reports coming in yet from successful anglers.
Northwoods Sporting Goods, (906) 482-5210.
Iron River Area
There was six inches of ice or more on most inland lakes in Iron County and fishing has been good. Some of the bigger lakes like Ottawa and Golden were still a little soft. Panfish and pike have been caught on most lakes and the walleye bite has been good in the bays on Chicagon and Fortune lakes. There was warm weather in the forecast but not enough was expected to start melting the ice. Hunting pressure has been light
Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.