Ice fishing continues in the Northern Lower and the Upper Peninsula. The 2016 licenses went on sale March 1. This gives anglers one month to purchase their new license before they are required on . The new guides are also available at all license vendors. The new guide covers fishing regulations for the next two years (2016 & 2017) so be sure to hold on to your copy.
Southeast Lower Peninsula
Huron River: A couple steelhead were caught near Flat Rock and a few walleye were taken below the Belleville Dam.
Detroit River: Had no floe ice coming down at this time. Shore anglers caught some perch. A few boats fishing the canals around Gibraltar caught perch. A couple steelhead were caught near the Trenton Power Plant.
Lake St. Clair: Practically all the ice has blown out. There is skim ice on some of the canals but no safe ice. The boat ramps at the Harley Ensign DNR site are ice free, but no boat activity so far. Windy conditions have the lake very muddy.
St. Clair River: Has floe ice drifting down from Lake Huron. The Harsens Island ferry was shut down last weekend due to ice jamming. Shore fishing could be limited by ice floes. Boat anglers should pay close attention to changes in wind direction that could cause ice to block access to the boat launches.
Caseville: The Pigeon River at Caseville is breaking up and there’s no fishing activity. The ice out by the breakwall has broken up.
Saginaw Bay: Did not have much ice left and what was there was not good ice.Nothing to report on the west side of the bay as the ice was either gone or no good. Boats going out from the mouth of the Saginaw River and trolling out by the Range Light did well for walleye when using husky jerks. Those fishing the Hot Ponds caught pike and carp. The Quanicassee River was wide open. There was no fishing from Sebewaing to Wildfowl Bay as the ice was either bad or actually breaking up. A few were ice fishing off Mud Creek. If you find a school of perch you can limit out but most anglers were only getting four or five fish or getting skunked.
Saginaw River: Had pretty good walleye fishing especially during the warm spell. Boat anglers were somewhat hampered by the high winds. Fish were caught near the Independence Bridge, the Cass Avenue Launch, Zilwaukee, and Ojibway Island. Some walleye were also taken at the confluence where the Shiawassee and the Tittabawassee join and form the Saginaw. Vertical jigging with fire-tiger jigs and twister tails was productive or try jigs and minnows.
Tittabawassee River: Was somewhat slower. Those fishing near Center Road had little success. Up at Gordonville Road, boat anglers did pretty well up at the Dow Dam when casting fire-tiger rapalas.
Southwest Lower Peninsula
There is no safe ice and with much warmer weather moving in next week, ice fishing season is over in this part of the state. With heavy snow and freezing rain the boat ramps will be tricky until the next warm-up. The rivers are higher than normal and the steelhead are not only biting, but becoming more aggressive.
St. Joseph River: Should have good steelhead action especially as the temperatures start to rise.
Kalamazoo River: Should also have good steelhead action. Try spawn, flies, small spoons or even a wax worm in the deeper holes until it warms up.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Steelhead activity has been increasing at both the Sixth Street Dam and along the shoreline. Those using spawn have had some success. Walleye fishing was productive as well.
Grand River at Lansing: The occasional steelhead has been caught at the Webber Dam and downstream. Try spawn and jigs. Pike and walleye catches were sporadic below the dams. Staff will be opening the fish ladders next week weather permitting.
Muskegon River: The number of steelhead caught did increase with the warmer weather. Some walleye were also caught by those using husky jerks.
White River: Anglers are starting to get steelhead.
Northeast Lower Peninsula
Grand Lake: Has sporadically continued to produce a decent number of walleye and jumbo perch. Walleye sizes vary from 17 to 21 inches.
Fletchers Pond: Catch rates slowed for bluegill and pike.
McCormick Lake: Is slowly producing few brown trout.
Higgins Lake: Still has ice this week but conditions will change quickly next week as temperatures inch up into the 50’s. Lake trout were still being caught in 80 to 120 feet along the north end and the south end. Use blues and golden shiners on tip-ups set five to 10 feet off the bottom. Some were jigging Swedish pimples, Do-jiggers or jigging raps. Perch were caught in 30 to 60 feet near the Main Island, Sunken Island, off Big Creek, the North State Park, Garrish Park, Pt. Detroit and a half mile out from the west launch. Anglers need to use extreme caution near Pt. Detroit because of natural springs. A couple quads went through the ice in about three feet of water.
Houghton Lake: This may very well be the last weekend of ice fishing especially with the warm weather and rain moving in next week. Watch the shore ice and be careful around the large pressure crack. There has been a morning bite however the afternoon was better for walleye and perch. Anglers did well with pink or fire-tiger jigging raps and Do-jiggers tipped with a minnow head. Bluegills were hitting on wax worms. Some nice crappies have been caught. The pike are still active. Those using tip-ups with golden shiners caught more fish but those using sucker minnows caught bigger fish.
Lake St. Helen: Catch rates slowed with the onset of colder temperatures and strong winds. The bite should pick-up by the weekend and into the beginning of next week but no one knows how long the ice will last.
Tawas: Still had some ice fishing in the “armpit” northwest of Jerry’s Marina, but the action was spotty. Perch and walleye fishing were slow but a couple lake trout were caught. The ice is gone in front of the Pine River and there was not much left at Palmer Road.
Tawas River: Had open water. Steelhead anglers caught a few fish on spawn.
Au Gres River: Down at the Singing Bridge, the river was open and a fair number of steelhead were caught. The river ice at Au Gres was not safe.
Northwest Lower Peninsula
Lake Charlevoix: Anglers were catching some walleye.
Lake Skegemog: In Kalkaska County was producing perch however anglers were sorting through dozens of smaller fish for a few keepers. Most were using minnows and plastics.
Green Lake: Smelt fishing was fair. The size of fish being caught has been an improvement from the last couple of years.
Lake Cadillac: Continues to offer ice fishing at least through the weekend. Much warmer temperatures and rain next week will start the melting process.
Lake Mitchell: Crappies are being highly sought after on Mitchell and other smaller lakes in the area.
Manistee Lake: The ice was holding with some soft spots so spud as you go. Good numbers of perch were caught near Penny Park when working the north shoreline with minnows and wigglers. Pike were caught on minnows and tip-ups. The Arthur Street launch was open and ice free.
Big Manistee River: Most anglers are catching steelhead and brown trout. Those fishing up near Tippy Dam were catching more browns.
Pentwater River: A few anglers caught steelhead.
Lake Gogebic: The walleye action has slowed but some jumbo perch were caught.
Menominee River: Had open water fishing on the walkway below the Hattie Street Bridge. Anglers were targeting walleye and trout.
Little Bay De Noc: Ice conditions in the northern Bay remain good although pressure cracks have created some problems. Anglers should use caution if taking vehicles on the ice. Saunders Point is open water so avoid the area. The majority of anglers have fished from the Escanaba River north because of ice conditions in the southern Bay. Walleye anglers reported catches in Gladstone Bay when using minnows with tip-ups in 25 to 35 feet. The head of the Bay was best using tip-ups with sucker minnows in eight to 25 feet. Perch anglers reported the best catches north of Butler Island with minnows or wigglers in eight to 24 feet. Overall catches were down but a little better than last week. The late ice should be good but use extreme caution as conditions will change much faster this year because the ice is not as thick.
Munising: Catch rates were slow. A few splake measuring up to 19 inches were caught. The whitefish action was slow. Anglers were ice fishing off the Anna River and Sand Point. A few tried fishing the west channel and off the green can near Christmas for lake trout but it was slow. Most are using a single egg or minnows. Ice conditions in the channel were not safe due to pack ice. Stay away from this area. No reports of any coho or smelt activity.
Munuscong Bay: Is about the same with Grass Island remaining good for perch, pike and walleye. Good fishing was also reported west of Pine Island.
Cedarville and Hessel: Perch fishing in Hessel Bay remains fair to good. Splake fishing is good especially in Wilderness Bay along the north shore. Use extreme caution and do not go out any farther than a quarter mile. Be very careful wherever you go on the ice. Perch fishing improved in Muskie Bay and pike fishing is always good.