Editor’s note: Ice conditions varied from one region of the state to another. Southern Michigan had been hit with warm, rainy weather, which rendered some lakes unsafe for travel. Fishing will resume as solid ice returns. 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
The Clinton River out at Harley Ensign opened back up because of the warm water discharge. Most of Lake St. Clair had an inch or so of water covering the ice. The action was good for bluegills, sunfish and pike near the Raft Restaurant. Anglers did well on bluegills and jumbo perch off the end of Cotton Road, but the action slowed a bit. Those walking out from the Crocker Road DNR ramp caught some perch on jigging spoons with or without minnows and wax worms in six to eight feet of water near Gino’s. Most were six to 8 inches long with a few as big as 10 inches. Perch were caught from the Clinton River Cut-Off to the Raft Restaurant. Most were small, but about half the anglers did manage to take some decent sized fish.
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003.
Irish Hills Area
Ice conditions were poor on lakes in Jackson County, forcing the cancellation of the Midwest Open Ice Fishing Tournament, scheduled for Feb. 10 on Wamplers Lake. With colder temperatures in the forecast the ice should stiffen back up soon.
Knutson’s Sporting Goods, (800) 292-0857 or (517) 592-2786.
There was up to 6 inches of ice on inland lakes in Oakland County, but warm rainy weather made a mess of things. Fishing pressure was very light. A few panfish had been caught on Orion, Lakeville and Graham lakes and the action should resume with colder temperatures in the forecast. Predator and rabbit hunting have been slow to get started with the poor weather conditions.
Lakes Village Stop/Mobile Gas Station, (248) 693-4565.
Lake ice was covered with water, following rain and unseasonably warm temperatures. There cold weather in the forecast. Anglers are advised to use extreme caution when the lakes freeze back up. River fishing also has been very slow. The weather also took a toll on hunting pressure, too, which has been pretty light.
Ellinee Bait and Tackle, (269) 468-7522
The recent warm-up impacted ice conditions on inland lakes in Kent County. Much of the snow had melted and the ice was wet and slushy. Anglers will need to use caution as the wet areas may refreeze, but the ice will not be as strong. Murray Lake was producing a good number of bluegills.
D and R Sports, (269) 372-2277.
Grand Rapids Area
Anglers were still getting some steelhead on the Grand River near the Sixth Street Dam, including fish up to 15 pounds. A few walleyes have been caught, too.
Al & Bob’s Sports, (616) 245-9156.
Ice conditions were shaky following rain and warm temperatures. Anglers had been catching good numbers of pike and crappies.
Gillett’s Bait and Hardware, (269) 672-5371.
Saginaw Bay Area
After the big thaw, ice conditions on Saginaw Bay were slushy with a lot of water on top in most places. Some perch were being caught off White’s Beach in 8 to 10 feet of water. Anglers going four to five miles off Pinconning Road, Coggins Road, Erickson Road and Linwood Road were catching walleyes. Watch out for the first pressure crack; it’s active and can spread to as much as 8 feet. There has been lots of fishing activity around the Spark Plug in 24 to 28 feet of water with some nice walleyes and perch being caught. Perch also have been caught off Vanderbilt Park in the afternoons and evenings.
Franks Great Outdoors, (989) 697-5341.
Ice fishing was spotty along most of the Saginaw River with a lot of sub-legal fish being caught and released at most locations. A few keepers were taken along the edge of the channel in 18 to 20 feet of water, downstream of the Independence Bridge and near the mouth. After the big thaw, anglers will have to be very careful of the river ice. The current will pick up and the river will probably get pretty muddy.
Riverview Bait Shop, (517) 755-0989.
Water levels are up on the Grand River and ice jams have caused flooding in the Portland area. Fishing pressure has been light to none.
Grand River Bait & Tackle, (517) 482-4461.
Fishing has slowed on Hamlin Lake. Those targeting panfish were struggling to find them and most only caught a bunch of small perch. Those targeting pike managed to find a couple of legal-sized fish either spearing or with tip-ups. A few bluegills have been caught off the South Bayou. Walleye anglers were having little to no luck.
Captain Chuck’s Fishing, Hunting and Archery, (231) 843-4458.
Walleye fishing has been very good behind in Lake Huron, where there was still up to 10 inches of ice. A good bite was reported behind North Island and near The Slot. Anglers also reported spearing some nice pike in Wildfowl Bay. The Pigeon River was muddy and no one was fishing there or in the harbor. Coyote hunting has been good.
Walsh Gun & Tackle, (989) 856-4465.
Rain and warm weather put a damper on fishing at Port Huron. There was still 8 inches of ice up at Lexington Harbor, but fishing there was slow. Only one steelhead and two Atlantic salmon were caught in a tournament there. Coyote hunting has been decent. Rabbit hunting has been “phenomenal.”
Anderson’s Pro Bait, (810) 984-3232.
Anglers on Burt and Mullett lakes reported good action. Anglers were catching walleyes along the east side of both lakes. Panfish, including crappies, were also caught. The bluegill action was fair to good in Burt Lake. On Mullett Lake, perch have been caught off Aloha State Park, and some nice pike have been caught there, too.
Pat & Gary’s Party Store, (231) 238-6776.
East Jordan Area
Fishing has been good on Lake Charlevoix. Walleyes are hitting in the South Arm in 15 to 30 feet of water. Anglers report a good cisco (herring) bite off Hemingway Point in 80 to 100 feet of water, and perch are hitting minnows fished in Dutchman’s Bay in 25 to 30 feet of water. There’s also a real good perch bite in the bay at Harbor Springs in 60 to 80 feet of water. Bobcat hunting has been good, coyote hunting pressure has been light.
Tom’s Bait & Tackle, (231) 536-3521.
Ice fishing continues to be decent on lakes Cadillac and Mitchell with anglers catching good numbers of bluegills and crappies, a few perch, and occasionally a walleye or pike.
Pilgrim Village Fishing Shop, (231) 775-5412.
Houghton Lake Area
There is a huge pressure crack on Houghton Lake that runs from the west DNR boat launch to Johnsons Point. Anglers cannot cross the pressure crack to get to the Middle Grounds safely and will have to use other access areas. Caution needs to be used due to the rapidly changing weather conditions. The snow is gone, and anglers will need ice cleats for easier travel. Anglers report a very light bite for bluegills and crappies. Late afternoon was best. The walleye bite seemed to be better in the mornings in 9 to 12 feet of water. Wonderbread and anything white with a splash of color seems to be the ticket. Pike seem to be suspended so if your tip-up is a foot off the bottom and you are not getting a bite, try moving it up.
Lyman’s on the Lake, (989) 422-3231.
Higgins Lake Area
Conditions on the Higgins Lake are slippery. Anglers may want some ice cleats. Use caution near the inlets and outlets. Lake trout have been caught by anglers jigging or using tip-ups with minnows in 80 to 100 feet of water. A few rainbow trout also have been caught but not many anglers were fishing for them. Perch were taken around the Sunken Island and on either side of the shelf that runs from the west launch to the Sunken Island. Fish either side of the shelf in 20 to 50 feet of water. A few pike were mixed in with the perch off Sam-O-Set Road in 20 feet of water.
Higgins Lake Sport & Tackle, (989) 821-9517.
Hubbard Lake Area
Anglers were getting some nice perch in the North and East bays of Hubbard Lake. Walleye and pike were also caught, many on tip-ups.
Side Door Bait and Tackle, (989) 736-6418.
Otsego Lake had light fishing pressure over the. Many areas were hard to get to with four wheelers because of slush and water on the ice. Those who did go out caught walleyes and pike with blue minnows fished in 7 to 12 feet of water. Most of the walleye were sub-legal.
Don’s Sport & Marine, (989) 732-4157.
There was a lot of snow and slush on Munuscong Bay, on top of 12 inches of ice. Those who can get out are catching good numbers of walleyes and perch. Walleyes are hitting in 5 to 6 feet of water throughout the bay. Perch are spread out through the bay, too. Ice conditions were sloppy on Lake Huron’s Hessel Bay, where fishing pressure was extremely light. Coyote hunting has been good and rabbit hunters report a lot of cottontails in the eastern UP.
Wilderness Treasures, (906) 647-4002.
Drummond Island Area
There was 18 inches of snow and 2 to 3 inches of slush beneath that. A few pike have been caught in Scotts Bay by tip-up anglers and spearers. Overall fishing pressure has been light. There was 2 feet of snow on the ground and a crust on top. Rabbit hunting pressure has been very light.
Johnson’s Sport Shop, (906) 493-6300.
Fishing has been pretty good on Manistique Lakes, where there was slush on top of 9 to 12 inches of ice. Caution is advised. Anglers are catching good numbers of walleyes, pike and perch on Big Manistique Lake and walleyes, pike and bluegills on South Manistique.
Mick’s Bait Shop, (906) 586-6040.
Ice conditions in Munising Bay are good. Anglers are scattered throughout the bay from Christmas, White Rocks and Murray’s Bay to Sand Point. Fishing in general was slow, with a few catches of whitefish, coho and undersized splake. The coho have been about 17 inches and are running slightly larger than last season. A few anglers jigging for lake trout north of the West Channel and near Grand Island were catching fish up to 10 pounds. Perch anglers did poorly with mainly small fish reported so far. Night anglers have been trying for smelt and burbot, but no smelt were reported to date. For whitefish, try jigging with a single egg or wax worm. Splake were hitting jigs tipped with minnows.
Curly’s Hilltop Grocery, (906) 387-3056.
Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc has good ice, however snow drifts were still causing some problems for those traveling across the ice. Walleye catches were spotty. Deeper water has been more productive with fish caught on Rapalas with minnows in 35 to 45 feet of water. Perch catches were also spotty. The better catches came from the Kipling area with minnows or wigglers fished in 27 to 40 feet of water. Whitefish anglers in Escanaba reported fair catches off Sand Point using minnows or spawn in 70 to 80 feet of water.
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.
BayShore Resort Bait & Tackle, (906) 428-2950.
Iron Mountain Area
There was only about 10 inches of snow on the ground, but it had a crust following recent rains, and there was more snow on the way. Travel on inland lakes was starting to get tough. When anglers could get out they were catching good numbers of bluegills and crappies on Cowboy Lake, Lake Antoine and Sawyer Lake. A few walleyes have been caught on Cowboy Lake, too, and a lot of pike have been caught on Badwater Lake, although most have been on the small side. Hunting pressure has been light with the unfavorable snow conditions.
Northwoods Wilderness Outfitters, (906) 774-9009.
Keweenaw Bay had fair lake trout action for those jigging cut bait in 150 to 225 feet of water. Many were small with a few keepers mixed in. Coho fishing was slow in 15 to 30 feet of water. The splake action was fair with numerous sub-legal fish taken on tip-ups or when jigging in 30 to 60 feet. The whitefish bite was slow in 50 to 70 feet. Smelt fishing was good in 30 to 90 feet of water just before and after dark when jigging wax worms. Large schools of lake herring have been spotted all around the bay however they did not want to bite.
Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.
Lake Gogebic fishing report was fair. Milder temps brought out anglers and some fish as well. Both perch and walleyes have been hitting with reports of anglers marking lots of fish but not all are hitting. Walleye anglers are working 10 to 15 feet of water with the best success during low light periods. Others were catching fish in 24 to 31 feet of water. Perch are being caught in 21 to 28 feet of water. There was a lot of new snow in the area with more in the forecast so a snowmobile is recommended for travel.
Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.
Iron River Area
There was about 2 feet of snow on inland lakes in the area and more snow was in the forecast. Ice was running well over a foot thick, but access was getting difficult because of heavy slush due to recent rain. Walleyes, panfish pike and muskies have been caught on most of the local lakes including Fortune, Chicagon and Hagerman. Hunting pressure has been light.
Luckey’s Sport Shop, (906) 265-0151.
The DNR contributed to this report.