Ice fishing continues around the state, but anglers should still exercise caution especially with much warmer weather moving in this weekend. Anglers should also pay close attention to strong winds which can shift the ice and cause pressure cracks.
NORTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Otsego Lake: Has good ice however the snow was too deep for ORV’s. There are some areas where there is 6 inches of slush, especially on the north end and around the shoreline. Fishing picked up with anglers taking walleye in 7 to 15 feet with perch minnows or blues. Most of the fish were 12 inches but there were a few up to 22 inches. Pike were taken when jigging minnows in 8 to 10 feet.
Higgins Lake: Had a good 6-8 inches of snow including some areas that are deeper because of drifting. The smelt action was fair off the North State Park and Big Creek in 40 to 60 feet at dusk.
More perch were caught around the islands however be ready to sort through the small ones. Lake trout were taken with blues on tip-ups or when jigging just off the bottom in 80 to 110 feet. More whitefish were caught on wax worms, wigglers or eggs on the bottom in 110 to 120 feet.
Houghton Lake: Anglers are still heading out however use caution and watch for two pressure cracks. There is the large one that runs from the West DNR launch to Johnsons Point and now another that has formed off that and runs north to south northeast of Heights Marina. Also, the ice off Long Point is soft and is not safe. The panfish bite was still soft but anglers are getting some. Hot colors were glow, pearl, orange or green. The fish are not schooled up, so anglers were moving from hole to hole after catching a few. Pike were hitting emerald shiners on the bottom.
Tawas: Walleye were caught off Jerry’s Marina in 22 feet. A few lake trout were caught near the reef. Those spear fishing have taken a couple pike. On the Rifle Bar off Booth Road, walleye, whitefish and lake trout were caught in 8 to 20 feet.
Au Gres: Walleye, pike and perch were caught south of the breakwall. Walleye along with a couple steelhead were caught north of the breakwall. In Wigwam Bay, walleye including some limit catches were taken in 8 to 15 feet. Anglers were fishing off Hale Road, Pine River or Palmer Road. Perch fishing was spotty.
Au Gres River: Anglers were catching a lot of small walleye.
NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
The drowned river mouth lakes such as Muskegon, White, Pere Marquette, Pentwater and Portage were giving up good catches of perch. On area rivers, some reaches have ice and were unfishable.
Traverse City: Anglers on the East Bay caught lake herring however there were still some areas where the ice was questionable. In the West Bay, perch were caught on small jigs tipped with minnows or wax worms in 40 to 60 feet off Clinch Park. Some nice fish were caught however anglers were sorting through a lot of small ones.
Crystal Lake: Continues to produce pike for those using tip-ups with minnows. A few perch and rock bass were caught on minnows, wigglers and wax worms. Burbot were caught in deep water off the Yacht Club.
Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell: Ice fishing continues. Catch rates were slower but the regulars were still getting some nice panfish along with a few walleye and pike.
Manistee River: Steelhead fishing is still slow, although a few were taken up near Tippy Dam.
Hamlin Lake: The ice is NOT safe for vehicles. Fishing improved as anglers were getting 10-15 panfish along the east side which included bluegill, crappie, sunfish and the occasional perch. Most of the perch were small. Crappie anglers fishing between Indian Pete’s Bayou and the Narrows were taking 5-10 fish per trip in 30 to 37 feet. A couple decent catches of bluegill and sunfish were taken from the North Bayou.
Those fishing the walleye grounds off Duneview Road managed to get a couple legal size fish though many were too small. Pike anglers did well along the upper lake with tip-ups or when spearing though some were too small.
Little Bay De Noc: Heavy snowfall made travel on the ice very difficult. Under the deep snow is a foot or more of slush in the low areas. Those venturing off the trail were getting stuck so be warned if you plan to fish the low traveled areas. Best walleye areas were on the south side of the Escanaba River using tip-ups or jigging rapalas in 28 to 40 feet. This was also a good area for big northern pike. The other walleye area was near Gladstone and pushing toward the east bank using the same in 25 to 35 feet. Perch catches were spotty with the majority of anglers targeting the Butler Island area in 5 to 10 feet with minnows and wigglers. Many were fishing much shallower than the weeks before mainly because of access. Whitefish anglers reported fair catches off Sand Point with minnows or spawn in 70 to 80 feet.
Munising: Deep snow one to two feet or more in areas has made travel on the ice difficult. Shoreline areas seem to have the most slush. The ice in Trout Bay was very “iffy” and had areas with pack ice. Catch rates were slow with only a couple coho and splake taken. Whitefish were caught near Powell Point, but many were small. Perch anglers had some luck however the fish were small. Lake trout were caught near White Rocks and Wood Island Reef. No reports on smelt but anglers are getting 2 to 3 burbot per trip.
Cedarville and Hessel: Had good ice however deep snow and slush have been an issue for ORV’s if you get off the main snowmobile trail. Anglers caught some perch between 5-8 inches using perch minnows and wigglers off Cedarville. Pike were spotted moving through the Snows Channel, but no reports of any fish harvested. From Hessel, perch between 5-10 inches were caught when jigging minnows and wigglers. Those targeting splake had no luck.